The walls of Barbara Bledsoe's apartment burst with a deep red hue, a reflection of Bledsoe's own vitality. A few floors away, the clean lines, unadorned windows and long walls of sleek gray cabinetry whisper contemporary serenity in Jerry and Carol Hendrix's home. Up top, Dick and Doris Terrell revel in views of Fort Worth sweeping nearly 180 degrees from the penthouse.
The dwellings would fit comfortably in an up-and-coming downtown building freshly converted to apartments, or a glossy new high-rise complex. But they are all inside Trinity Terrace, a downtown continuing-care retirement community.
First built 28 years ago, Trinity Terrace added its City Tower two years ago to include more apartments and the penthouses. Apartments are scrupulously kept up-to-date, sometimes stripped to the studs between residents. The result is a property that provides all the perks of downtown living, more flexibility in layout and decorating modifications than a regular apartment, and the security of on-campus healthcare and long-term care.
The Bledsoe home
Barbara Bledsoe, who has had her two-bedroom apartment for almost a year, says she didn't have any trouble downsizing from 4,200 square feet in the Overton Park area to 1,629 here. "You don't need that much house -- ever," she says with a laugh.
The red paint was a fixture in her other home -- "either you like it or you hate it" -- and she had crown molding added here. Her collection of art and antiques, much of it carefully chosen from Fort Worth stores over the years, happily congregates in the new space. "I just could see where to put my furniture," says Bledsoe, an avowed Anglophile.
An Italian portrait circa 1840, purchased for $175 at a consignment shop (now it's worth five figures, she says), hangs above the fireplace. The ornate inlaid desk of burled walnut against one wall ("it's loaded with secret drawers") is Dutch, made in 1775 and purchased from an antiques shop on Camp Bowie Boulevard. "I've been collecting since I was old enough to know what an antique was," says Bledsoe, who at 79 pulls off the casual sophistication of jeans and a tucked-in white shirt, her dark hair cut short and chic.
She skillfully mixes patterns and styles in her bedroom, visible from the combined kitchen/living/dining space, as well. A Belgian coverlet patterned in big birds woven in navy and cream is a dramatic backdrop for a collection of pillows, some speckled with stars, against a golden bamboo headboard. A petite painted black chair, its back a wicker oval, came from Poindexter's in Fort Worth in the 1950s.
The east-facing balcony admits morning light, affording views and cooler evenings.
The Hendrix home
Walking into the Hendrix home after visiting Bledsoe's abode is a little like touring Buckingham Palace and then going directly to the Tate Modern in London -- at least aesthetically speaking. In fact, Carol Hendrix is a docent at the Modern Art Museum in Fort Worth, and the volunteer work she adores thoroughly informs her style. As visitors enter, she whisks away a glass-and-iron table centerpiece, leaving the northern views to dominate the room from uncovered windows cleanly divided into large rectangles by industrial mullions. A painting of fuchsia flowers against a gray streetscape by Texas Christian University grad Lorrie McClanahan hangs on a wall in the dining room. Mindful of function, Carol and her husband, Jerry, assembled carpet tiles from Flor to create contemporary floor coverings both here and in the living room that also accommodate their dog, Jake.
Function also is smoothly integrated into the living-room walls, where gray-painted KraftMaid cabinetry with simple silver hardware takes care of storage needs and an electric fireplace keeps the room from feeling too stark. Contractor Lee Martin and designer Jan Gallagher helped the Hendrixes realize their vision in the move from a similarly sized 1918 home, also made contemporary, about nine months ago.
"This space just translated to contemporary beautifully," says Carol, who is elegant in black and gray. "We did do a tremendous amount of electrical work" to ensure plenty of outlets and install track lighting. The Hendrixes also redid one of the two bathrooms, installing glass mosaic tile on the walls and a graphite-hued floor tile that, by happenstance, is both nonslip and contemporary.
The transition from dining to living room is marked by a rectangular art installation in Plexiglas and aluminum by Tom Hollenback from William Campbell Contemporary Art in Fort Worth. The edges glow neon orange without any lighting. Above a shelf in the living room, a balanced sculpture by Shep Miers from Conduit Gallery in Dallas looks like it must be glued together -- it's not.
The bookshelves integrated into the cabinetry hold small pieces -- pottery from the Santa Fe Indian Market, stacks of the Fort Worth Social Register.
The apartment has only one bedroom, but Carol says the 10-foot-by-13-foot terrace makes up for the second bedroom. "It gave me room to garden, so I didn't have to give that up," she says.
The Terrell home
Dick and Doris Terrell are away enjoying cool New Mexico evenings at their summer home, but when they get back to Fort Worth, they don't have to worry about what has happened to the yard or anything else.
The shift from 3,700 square feet on Colonial Parkway to 1,900 included some "drama and trauma," Doris concedes, but she found a way. Their children have things of their own and didn't necessarily want everything that the Terrells left behind, so the couple gave pieces to friends, "so I could see them being used."
With the help of Robin Shirey of Design Studio 2435 (formerly Accent Design Studio) in Fort Worth, the Terrells turned raw space into a new home. Dick's "man cave" in the Colonial Parkway home translated into a cozy alcove office just for him with the media equipment tucked into a large cream country French armoire in the living room. There's an open kitchen, and the Terrells also turned the penthouse powder room across from the kitchen area into a butler's pantry with extra storage and a wet bar.
Says Doris, "Here, you really don't cook and prepare dinners, but you do entertain. And the way the kitchen is arranged is beautiful for entertaining." Their kitchen is open to the living area, offering space for plenty of interaction between the Terrells and their guests.
The traditional decor in deep browns and creams is warm and inviting, set against 16th-floor views that move from north to west. The windows, softened with sheers, look over a terrace that spans one side of the apartment.
Pieces from their other home were incorporated -- and sometimes given new lives. A wood chest became a vanity topped with a cerulean blue sink in the guest bath, for example.
The Terrells, like the other tenants here, love the security and the wide range of activities that come with their new digs. A daily schedule of exercise classes, a large indoor pool, a white-tablecloth dining area and covered parking are among the amenities they enjoy.
Doris remembers one evening when "we were coming home from a trip. It was a Sunday. We just called and asked to have dinner brought up to the apartment. There's a small fee associated with that, but there's no tipping. It was very, very nice."