He never takes the stairs. Instead, a small elevator delivers him to his spacious home above the flower studio.
It’s a place he designed and decorated himself with never a backward glance. Fort Worth florist Bill Bostelmann has unshakable confidence in his own taste, and his home is a showcase of his personal brand of panache: eclectic art, furniture from his childhood, treasures from Mexico, yard sale finds and salvage from other periods of his life.
But this light-filled aerie overlooking the Trinity River on Fort Worth’s west side is more than his private space or a place to entertain friends. It’s also a ready-to-rent party venue that he says is an unbeatable marketing strategy, canceling all need for Flowers on the Square to support an advertising budget.
Unusual? Sure, but he says it works for him. In less than a year, more than 3,000 potential clients have attended events there, he says — and, no, he doesn’t mind the inconvenience.
When he rents the place for receptions, birthday and anniversary dinners, debutante parties and the like, he clears out and the caterers take over.
“I never worry about my stuff because I know the people who have rented [the place] or I know the people who recommend them,” he says.
“We had 165 here for a deb party the other night,” he explains, leading the way down a corridor with a barrel vaulted ceiling painted sky blue, past the great room with views of the river on one side, and a red sitting room that doubles as a guest room on the other.
We’re headed for the kitchen, one of Bostelmann’s favorite rooms. He entertains friends in his home at least once a week, often in this casual, homey space. Sometimes his entertaining is so serendipitous that someone rushes out to bring dinner from a nearby restaurant and Bostelmann flies to Braum’s for ice cream and poundcake to offer with fruit for dessert.
The idea is to enjoy the people in your life, and so he has friends in often. But the notion of renting this place for parties isn’t his first bite of pie in the sky.
For more than a decade, Flowers on the Square was located in an industrial district off West Seventh Street. Now that area has been leveled to make way for a multimillion-dollar mixed-use development.
Bostelmann lived above the flower studio then, just as he does now. He dubbed that first place West Bank, and there was a balcony with a fireplace and a view of the river — just as there is now. He calls this new location North Bank.
When clients and friends looking for a new party place asked him to rent West Bank, he opened the doors to a new business. But in 2012, he sold West Bank to a developer and began a search for a new location.
Learning that his old home would be demolished, he grabbed permission to salvage some things, including the commercial storefronts, doors, kitchen cabinets, carpeting, the kitchen stove and more.
He bought a site on White Settlement Road and set out to create an improved version of that first home/business building with its rubble stone and stucco exterior and balcony with fireplace and river views.
Naturally, he turned to his West Bank builder, Steve Chojnowski, owner of House Tailors.
“Steve built West Bank for me twice,” says Bostelmann; once before the 2000 tornado and once after. “We’ve worked together for so long, he knows what I want. I bet we didn’t talk more than five minutes at a time ...”
Chojnowski says he and Bostelmann designed North Bank and then took the plan to architect Rashmi Chandel for the construction drawings.
“Bill and I do speak in shorthand,” he says. “Bill starts a sentence and I finish it. The kitchen floor is ... very utilitarian, but the way Bill did it, it really makes a statement.”
Stepping into the spacious room is like stepping back in time. Large orange and green Azrock tiles cover the floor. This durable flooring was a popular choice for schools and hospitals in the 1940s and ’50s. “These colors are nutmeg and sage,” Bostelmann announces with a smile.
The vintage 1949 Chambers kitchen stove belonged to a client, Bostelmann explains. “She was remodeling her place on Park Avenue, changing the kitchen ... I begged her to keep the Chambers, but she didn’t want it. One day she called and said she’d saved it for me ... so I drove to New York and loaded it into the pickup and brought it back to Texas. I had it at West Bank, too. It made it through the tornado.”
The four kitchenware racks from Mexico, called trasteros, also survived that storm. Now they hang above the lower cabinets, just as they did at West Bank. There are no upper cabinets. New countertops are concrete.
Dinnerware is stacked on the lower shelves of a stainless-steel table that divides the work space from the dining area with its leather banquette against the wall.
“The work side is a big L with the fridge, the stove and the sink, and then there’s room for people to sit at the table or hang out. ... Everyone ends up in this room,” says Bostelmann.
On most Thursday nights, he and at least four friends gather here to watch Project Runway on the flat-screen TV mounted high on the wall. The round table is covered with a cloth and the chairs are vintage oak office chairs, the finish well-worn in places.
“Southwestern Bell was throwing these out,” he says. “Why? They’re fabulous.”
The large butler’s pantry is made for storage and staging, rather than china display, and connects the kitchen to the large covered balcony that hugs two sides of this home.
A large elk skull hangs against one wall. “I found it at a garage sale,” Bostelmann says. “Isn’t it beautiful?”
Large commercial doors salvaged from West Bank open from the tile-floored balcony to the great room. The wooden floor here looks as if it had another life, too. But this floor is new.
Oak planks were installed, then large diamonds stenciled in black paint. Several days later, after the paint had soaked into the raw wood and dried, the floors were sanded. Finally, the surface was sealed with Bostelmann’s own concoction of a half cup of mahogany stain mixed into a gallon of polyurethane.
The long, leather banquette that stretches the length of the rustic dining table is new, too, but the tall “accountants tables” are finds from Mexico. “I admired these for years,” Bostelmann says.
One of the two sofas near the fireplace is a 1928 vintage piece that first belonged to his mother. “I need to re-cover it again, but it’s got nice lines and there’s no reason not to keep it,” he says.
Across the hall, a sitting room is outfitted with two daybeds; the frames are upholstered in red leather. The Russian-inspired carpet belonged first to a client who didn’t like it. Bostelmann picked it up and used it in his West Bank bedroom. It survived the tornado, too, so he had it cleaned and used it again in this guest room.
“It turned out to be too small, so we put a wooden border around it,” he says.
The rustic doors for this room slide on an overhead track that reaches as far as the kitchen and can be used to close that area, too.
Bostelmann has punctuated every space with his growing and eclectic art collection: a large charcoal on freezer paper in the great room by architect Harvey Phillips, a photograph on silk, works by Ron Tomlinson and Ben Groff, a “Daddy-O” Wade in the hallway, a blue-chip lithograph of the Screwarch Bridge by Claus Oldenburg outside the kitchen, a William T. Wiley found at Goodwill, a small Picasso tucked away amid a host of paintings by unknown artists picked up for $8 here or $12 there and then beautifully framed.
Bostelmann, 65, is far from ready to start disposing of his treasures. He’s not finished collecting, he says, or traveling or entertaining or saving what he finds useful or beautiful.
“I’m having a good time,” he declares.
Bill Bostelmann has friends to his home each Thursday night for dinner. Sometimes guests bring or prepare the meal. On a recent Thursday, chef Lou Lambert prepared a feast, never suspecting that he was the guest of honor. Lambert says he “wasn’t bitter” when he thought friends had forgotten his birthday, but he never guessed that this was a belated but surprise birthday celebration — and he was the honoree.