When empty nesters, Steve and Carolyn Bloomfield, were ready to make the move from the traditional Mt. Lookout home where they raised their two sons, to a new style of living, they had a checklist.
“We wanted all the things you want when you are our age,” Carolyn says. “You want to simplify your life. You want a walkable community. You want one-floor living.”
Steve adds, “You want to be able to close the door and travel.”
Fortunately, at that time, the couple was on the inside track on a new condominium development that checked all their boxes. Steve is a principal of Bloomfield/Schon + Partners, an architecture and development firm that has revitalized a number of historic commercial buildings in Greater Cincinnati.
In 2008, right around when the Bloomfields were ready to make their move, Steve and his partner, Kenneth Schon, were about to venture in to their first new construction residential project: a 13-unit building that sits on the corner of Erie and Shaw, just a block away from Hyde Park Square.
Once development talks were underway, and as renowned contemporary designer Jose Garcia got involved, it became apparent that this was the right location for the couple’s new home. They tagged one half of the top floor in the four-story building for their own.
“Jose has got to be one of the best residential designers in town,” says Steve. “He has an extraordinary understanding of materials and space.”
For example, when it came to selecting material for the floors, Garcia invited Steve to travel with him to a quarry near the Pennsylvania/ New York border to check out some blue stone. As a result, that stone covers every inch of the couple’s 3,000 square feet of flooring.
LET THERE BE LIGHT
The centerpiece of the unit is an open-air atrium that floods the space with light and life. A 12-foot-tall crabapple tree is the anchor, surrounded by several plantings, sculptures and a fountain. Touching the four sides of this atrium are: the entry, the kitchen, living and dining areas, and a hallway that serves as a gallery for just a few of the many pieces of artwork in the couple’s collection.
While this condo’s sweeping view overlooking Hyde Park Square and surrounding churches, schools and homes, certainly draws your attention outside, a striking collection of original artwork—mostly contemporary—provides plenty of visual stimulation inside as well.
“Before, our paintings were more traditional. Many of them were inherited,” Steve says. “We started collecting more once we moved here.”
The couple made the move in 2009, on the date of their 40th wedding anniversary. They brought with them a few pieces of furniture, including a Stickley bench that has been passed down through generations on Carolyn’s side, and a Chinese chest that Steve says was his “great, great—maybe even another great—aunt’s.” A few chairs and some bedroom furniture made the trip as well, but much of the furnishings are new, and in keeping with the contemporary flair of the home.
Another piece of furniture of note is the 8-foot-long table that serves as a desk in Steve’s work area. The table was made from a pin oak tree that stood on the site where the building now stands.
And while there are no walls separating the two rooms, Carolyn often claims her space in the adjacent den/library where she frequently knit —or where they both gather for the occasional night of television.
Beyond those spaces, in more private wings of the home, are the primary suite with a spacious bathroom, closet and laundry area, and a two bedroom guest suite.
MADE FOR WALKING
Taking full advantage of their location, Carolyn, who is a retired nurse, walks on a regular basis to the bank, the library and stores on the square. When her grandchildren: Ellie, 4, and Rafe, 6, stop by for a visit, Carolyn works off some of their energy by walking them to the playground at Hyde Park Elementary.
However, there’s some walking that the homeowner doesn’t miss a bit. “In our old house, our laundry room was in the basement,” Carolyn says. “After years of carrying laundry down two floors and back up again, having a laundry room off our bedroom is a dream come true.”
getting to know the artists…
The collecting of contemporary works began in earnest when Steve met the man he calls his “great adviser.” That would be Carl Solway, an art dealer based in Cincinnati who was a major force behind the contemporary art scene in this area and beyond.
“He was amazing,” Steve says. “He introduced me to all these artists he knew.”
One of the artists the Bloomfields met is Ben Durham, whose intricately detailed creations center around people he knew growing up.
Solway also introduced them to Jay Boloton, the artist behind two woodcuts in the library, as well as a larger piece on a wall opposite the atrium. Boloton is somewhat of a renaissance man. “He’s a musician, a writer, a visual artist, he’s written an opera and he is currently working on an animated film,” Carolyn says.
The Bloomfields are also fans of Northside artist, Merle Rosen, whose bold painting is placed on a red wall in the powder room. Rosen introduced them to sculptor Stuart Fink, whose pieces are found in a few locations within the condo.
So, it comes as no surprise when Steve says, “I love talking to the artists. We love knowing who these people are.”
READY FOR COMPANY
The couple’s son, Adam, works at Bloomfield/Schon, and lives in Mt. Lookout with Ellie, Rafe and his wife Tali. Their other son, Daniel, lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife, Katy Horan, and their daughter, 7-year-old Hazel. Katy is an artist, and her work graces the walls in Steve’s work area.
The couple entertains frequently, and when cooking is involved, it’s Carolyn who takes the lead with Steve acting as her sous chef. Carolyn loves the layout of her kitchen. “All the kitchens I had before this were much smaller. “This is like a super kitchen,” she says. “But thanks to its design, I need to take fewer steps.”
SOME WALKING IS OPTIONAL
When the Bloomfields want to take in the activity near the square, from the comfort of their home, they grab a cup of coffee and head to the covered terrace. “We like going out and looking around at the community to see what’s happening,” Carolyn says. “It’s never dull.”
And when wanderlust lures them to catch some sun by the ocean, or travel to an art show in Europe, it’s turn off the lights, lock the door and off they go.
Clearly this is a couple who is happy with the decision they made in selecting a home to match the checklist they made over a decade ago. Steve confirms that point saying, “It’s just really easy to live here.”
Developer Bloomfield/Schon + Partners; Contractor Turnbull-Wahlert
Designer Jose Garcia; Furniture Several pieces from Voltage
Appliances GE Monogram
Article by Karen Bradner | Photos by Greg Grupenhof
Article originally appeared in May 2022