In December 2004, Lindsey and Yoel were living in New York, enjoying urban amenities but contemplating a move to Cleveland. The Sabbath-observant couple only would move back to Lindsey’s hometown if they could have abundant space and land and still walk to synagogue, says Yoel, a New Jersey native.
A unique Beachwood neighborhood of big, wooded lots and gracious colonial homes across the street from major shopping plazas and near Orthodox shuls beckoned. But with only 20-some homes in the Community Drive-Union Circle development, finding a house for sale there was a challenge.
One day Lindsey got the call. Her aunt had a friend who was selling her house in the Community Drive neighborhood. The couple promptly flew to Cleveland and bought the property, moving here six months later, after selling their one-bedroom New York apartment.
That sale bought them a charming two-story gray home with taupe trim sitting on more than an acre of land, part of the Elizabeth B. Blossom Subdivision Historic District in Beachwood. Listed since 1987 on the National Register of Historic Places, the development is located at the southwest corner of Cedar and Richmond Roads.
In 1936, Mrs. Dudley Blossom, whose estate was across the street where Legacy Village now stands, decided to develop the land for her children to build their homes after they finished college, according to the Cleveland Memory Project, a compilation by Cleveland State University Libraries. When the children did not return to the area, the land was sold to others.
Originally a private subdivision, the development had deed restrictions for 25 years forbidding the sale of land and homes to Jews and blacks, says Yoel, who with his wife now works for her family’s business. Today, the neighborhood is a very diverse one, Yoel adds.
Along with the home’s plentiful windows, quirky character, and interesting architectural features, most enticing to the young family is the 12-acre wooded private park jointly owned by the neighbors that abuts their backyard. Living here, they say, is the best of both worlds: walking across the street to buy a book or have a meal out, just as they could in New York, but also ambling out their back door into an idyllic rural setting.
Several years ago, Lindsey and Yoel, now parents and in their mid-30s, recognized their home’s tiny kitchen no longer fit the needs of a growing family. With plans from architect George Clemens of Chagrin Falls, who specializes in older homes, they built a 1,000-sq.-ft. addition. The new space, which includes a laundry room, babysitter’s bedroom, full bathroom, and spacious new kitchen, brings the home’s total size to nearly 5,000 square feet, says Lindsey.
The home now has seven bedrooms – several small ones are tucked under sloping upstairs ceilings – and 4-1/2 baths. Lindsey and Yoel decorated but did not remodel the home’s second-floor bedrooms; the previous owners had already updated the bathrooms.
While the addition was still under construction, the couple hired interior designer Debra Deutch-Rabinowitz. Along with reworking the kitchen layout, which now boasts two islands, the designer also improved the flow of the house.
She eliminated a closet across from the front door to provide unimpeded views to the back woods, expanded the dining room, and widened a back passageway. A porch became a year-round sunroom with a view of the backyard.
Also crucial to the home’s enhanced look is the work of architect Thomas P. MontAlto of Peninsula, who designed the kitchen garden, a side entrance, and a backyard succah structure. First, MontAlto suggested eliminating a stand of trees and a fence at the back of the property to open up sight lines to the 12-acre woods beyond. Now only a bed of myrtle demarcates where the yard ends and the communal wooded park begins.
Although the home is set back far from the road, MontAlto’s frontyard kitchen garden, created by the addition of two perpendicular, one-story walls of windows and open to the sky, provides a further buffer from street noise. Between the window walls and the house, raised beds and wooden planters bursting with vegetables, blooms and greenery flank either side of a flagstone path leading to the front door.
Family and guests typically enter the home through a side entrance accessed via a flagstone walk past the attached garage and through an inviting wood lattice gate to a small porch. Inside the house, the low-maintenance gray slate floor leads past the laundry room and a step-down monochromatic family room to the spectacular country kitchen.
Pale yellow walls, white woodwork, wide-plank blond wood floors, and two center islands – one for meat and one for dairy preparation – make the kitchen a kosher cook’s dream. White-painted beams stretch across the peaked ceiling, and a bank of high, narrow windows add more light and architectural detail.
Soft white panel-door cabinets, a backsplash of creamy subway tiles, and black granite counters line one wall of the room. Pale granite streaked with gold tops the islands’ walnut-stained cabinetry. Behind a rough-hewn blond table and curved-back walnut chairs with rush seats, tall windows look onto pastoral backyard vistas.
A door leads from the kitchen to the rounded flagstone patio with MontAlto’s take on a pergola. Its vertical pillars support overhead cross beams, ideal for the family’s red-draped succah each autumn as well as outdoor dining all summer.
Back inside, the kitchen opens into a wide passageway with a contemporary sofa perfectly placed for outdoor viewing, and tall windows and French doors lead to the patio. There’s also an original butler’s pantry with new dark wood cabinetry and an extra sink for washing Shabbat dishes.
In the adjacent dining room, a colorful contemporary oil painting by Howard Finster, whimsically titled “Van Gogh Sat Here,” with four versions of the artist’s famous chair, plays well against the mushroom-colored walls and yesteryear aesthetic. An elegant crystal chandelier purchased from the previous homeowners adds sparkle to Lindsey’s grandmother’s blond wood dining table and chairs. Granite slabs for hot dishes protect the original built-in cabinetry.
Off the dining room is the raspberry-hued living room, with chocolate sofas and beige chairs. A brown, rose and ivory rug ties the decor together. Behind it is the sunroom, with Lindsey’s grandmother’s formerly blond hutch cabinet painted a striking deep blue. White-painted brick walls and a sisal-covered floor are juxtaposed against contemporary brown and blue upholstery, red print chairs, and a bright blue abstract painting by Babette Hirschberger.
The upstairs bedrooms, accessed from the front or back stairs, provide plenty of room for kids – the couple has two small boys with another baby on the way – and guests. The serene master bedroom, an elegant study in cream, beige and black, toile and plaid, was redecorated as a wedding gift from Lindsey’s parents. It, too, looks out over the large backyard. Adjacent is the gray and white master bath with footed tub and twin pedestal sinks.
Although the spacious addition took a difficult year to complete, with Lindsey and Yoel living at her parents’ during several months of the construction, the couple loves the end result. People in Cleveland drive all the time everywhere, laments Yoel. In their Beachwood home, the couple has found the best of worlds, a little country in the heart of the city.