For more than a year, Bill Blunden has been committed to a project of the utmost importance: creating the perfect living space for himself and his wife, Brenda Lewison, at Judson Park.
The couple – she, a retired editor and award-winning photographer, and he, a semi-retired architect — approached the project cautiously. “We had been looking at Judson Park for several years and considering how we could modify a space for our needs,” Bill, 86, recalls. But nothing they saw seemed right.
When Judson Sales Director Pam Trevis approached them with the idea of merging two adjoining single-bedroom units into one expansive apartment, the couple was intrigued – and even more so when they learned they could design the space themselves. “As an architect, Bill was in a great position to design a good floor plan,” Brenda, 80, says. “So we were very excited about moving forward on the project.”
The couple sold their Cleveland Heights home in 2019 and expected to move to their renovated space in May 2020. COVID, of course, had other plans: Early lockdowns put a temporary stop to construction, and materials and supplies have remained hard to secure. The upshot is that Bill and Brenda are still working on their project while living in a temporary apartment in nearby Little Italy.
Still, they have no regrets. “The fortunate thing is, there is really no pressure,” says Brenda. “We have a fabulous loft in Little Italy and – considering it was the pandemic – we’ve had a very happy year.”
Contributing to that happiness are the couple’s shared values: an abiding embrace of all that is beautiful in the world around them. With her photographer’s keen eye for detail, Brenda offers the perfect complement to Bill’s big-picture aesthetics. Whether natural or architectural, “our visual environment is central to our pleasure in life,” Bill says.
That shared passion also helped pave their way to Judson Park and its historic surroundings. “It is in a gorgeous neighborhood,” Brenda notes, “and that will be one of the big pleasures of life there. Bill and I are big walkers. We are always analyzing the buildings and public spaces we see. We love that we can walk out the door of Judson Park and be in a beautiful neighborhood that is safe for walking; that is one of the special attractions of living there.”
Compatibility comes with a cost, the couple agrees. “The bane of a really happy marriage is that you’re not inclined to share your time with others,” Brenda admits. “We never expected to live in a senior living community, but at this point, we both realize that it is in our best interests to develop more relationships that are interesting and rich. And when we considered all the wonderful things that Judson offers – a phenomenally rich environment with so many activities, so easily available – we embraced it.”
“We are both extremely healthy,” Bill adds, “but one of the reasons we are moving now is that we want to do it while it is still a choice, not a necessity. We know that as we age, our lives can become more limited. But at Judson, there are still new friends to make, new activities to discover. It offers us all the friendship and security we need as we grow older.”
Meantime, their Judson Park space has continued to take shape. In one of the former one-bedroom apartments, Bill has designed an open floor plan with kitchen, dining and living space, along with the “handy,” a quirky-yet-convenient area where the washer, dryer, and refrigerator will dwell. “It works for us,” says Brenda about the unusual arrangement. “Moving the refrigerator out of the kitchen contributes to a lot more counter and cabinet space and creates a more pleasurable view for us and our guests.” In the other former apartment, Bill has designed two baths, two bedrooms (one configured as a den), and a walk-in closet. Throughout the new apartment, enormous window-walls provide plentiful natural light with a view of treetops and the sky.
“There were many complications for Bill to accommodate,” says Brenda about the lengthy construction process. “But his resolutions to those challenges have created a wonderful apartment. I know we’ll be happy at Judson Park.”
This was a highly considered decision by Bill and Brenda, a three-year process of moving forward. “It took us a long time to feel the timing was right, but Pam and the Judson staff have been wonderfully respectful and patient with us,” says Brenda. “We are really happy to be coming to Judson.”