The pattern was worn like an old entryway carpet — a new city every few years.
Despite their Midwestern roots, the couple had lived and worked in more than half a dozen cities in the U.S.
They'd finally settled down in Atlanta, in a neighborhood they loved with plenty of friends. But then he landed a job as chief financial officer with a major manufacturer in Lorain County.
"I'll be honest, we moved here and I was just kicking and screaming," she says. "I was not thrilled."
She reminisces briefly about life in Georgia, then looks out on the view of Lake Erie from her kitchen table. "I think for raising a family, honestly, we've grown to love this even more."
It's been six years since the couple moved to Northeast Ohio, and it seems they've grown just as attached to their Rocky River neighborhood. In fact, their first home was just a mile down the street from where the family lives now.
"It was a very charming old Tudor-style home," she says. But they had always wanted to live on the water, so last year they packed up and made the short move to the 6,842-square-foot home overlooking the water.
Built in 1998, the four-bedroom, seven-bathroom house still offers plenty of character thanks to a few carefully chosen Old World touches, including two antique cast-iron porthole windows, an interior leaded glass art window and a huge pair of 5-by-6-foot gray stone fireplace mantels.
Though she's an avid hobby decorator with her own design blog called Kensington Bliss, very little design has changed since this house has become home. A second-floor in-law suite was converted into two bedrooms, but otherwise even paint colors have stayed the same.
"We inherited this room," she says, gesturing to the indigo-painted family room now lined with paintings of boats, coastal towns and marinas that bring the water indoors. "It all just worked out."
Yet it's what's outside that drew her to this home. Situated in a ravine on an old creek bed, the house seems almost nestled into its surroundings.
Unlike their immediate neighbors, whose foundation is situated at eye level to their first floor, this is one of the few West Side properties that enjoy easy beach access. A gently sloping path winds down to the sandy beach below, where an old pier stands tall among the patio railings and bonfire circles the family enjoys during warmer months.
Today, the water is frozen as if in midwave, with choppy ice caps holding on to the powdery snow that blows across its surface. Even in winter it's beautiful. "Every day it'll melt and then refreeze," she says. "Every day it's a different scene out there."
It's the perfect setting for this young family, which includes three towheaded children ages 5, 7 and 8, who love to play by the water. A basement entrance prevents them from tracking sand throughout the house, with a foot-washing station just beyond the large French doors leading out back and down to the beach.
Even with a private beach, indoor activities are a must between the family's three energetic kids and the Cleveland weather. Originally built by the in-laws of former Cleveland Cavaliers general manager Danny Ferry, an indoor basketball court complete with NBA decals and a regulation hoop keeps everyone running. "My kids spend half their time down here; they love it," she says.
And it's not just for kids. "We put up a volleyball net and have adult parties, where we play this Wallyball game that is so much fun," she laughs. "Basically a bunch of adults who haven't played a sport in like 20 years."
A squat, arched door stands conspicuously out from its surroundings in the basement billiards room. It leads the way into a dark and cozy wine cellar lined with oak and stone. Sconces designed to look like old-fashioned torches provide soft lighting, and a large bottle of red wine rests alone on a shelf at eye level. A gift from the home's previous owners, the bottle is scrawled with a message in gold: "Here's to many years of health and happiness in your beautiful new home."