It was 2007 and couple Derrick Booze and Bob Kan were each looking to make a move—Booze from an apartment in the Cedarcroft area; Kan from one in Ruxton. That was when their close friend, designer Ted Pearson, suggested they tour a three-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath townhome at Overlook Clipper Mill.
"Ted said, 'You've got to come look at this place,'" recounts Booze. "'I think you'll both love it.'"
With its expansive, light-filled spaces, unique contemporary floor plan, stylish Italian-designed kitchen and LEED-certified features, it was, as Pearson predicted, love at first sight.
Kan and Booze also loved the idea of permanently blending their lives.
"We couldn't wait to combine our belongings," says Booze.
Today, their home is filled with highly personal pieces (Kan, a retired orthopedist, displays his first doctor's bag on the bottom shelf of an antique table in their bedroom; a piece of calligraphy by Booze's late brother, Mario, is framed on a wall in the guest room) as well as objects and artwork the couple has collected from around the world.
"We've picked up things as we've gone along," says Booze, who works at Martin Greenbaum Carpet, "but we've really tried to pare it down. I don't like a lot of clutter. The things that have the most meaning to us are the photographs of family."
A focal point in the living room is a one-of-a-kind harpsichord Kan ordered from Hubbard Harpsichords of Massachusetts. Several years ago, Kan painstakingly built the instrument from scratch in the first-floor workroom of his home. "I built one before and sold it," says Kan. "Then my daughter, Lisa, [from a previous marriage] said, 'I wanted it after you died, dad.' Probably the dumbest thing I ever said was, 'I will build you another one.' This harpsichord has 5,000 pieces and took me a year-and-a-half to build!"
Perhaps the most profound influences on the space are the memories Kan brought from a lifetime ago: Kan is a Holocaust survivor who was orphaned at age 10 and lived in hiding with a Dutch family during the latter part of World War II. At the age of 20, he came to the United States in 1955 on a full scholarship to Case Western Reserve University.
His homeland remains close to Kan's heart, and windmills—the iconic symbol of Holland—can be found in photographs throughout the space, including one vista of windmills that was the very view Kan could see from the home where he lived in hiding. The black-and-white image is now prominently displayed on the kitchen wall.
"Looking at the windmill picture, I always think of that magnificent van Wijnen family that hid me during the last year and a half of the war," reminisces Kan.
Kan's peripatetic upbringing left him longing for a real home of his own. "I moved from one place to the other," he says. "Starting from my family home, I moved 14 times before coming to the U.S. and then 13 times [in the U.S]. Hopefully, my current home is my final one. I love living here."
Booze shares the sentiment. "To live well, have a nice home and family has always been a dream of mine. I would have been happy to just have a decent life, but I was given a little more. I never imagined I'd be living in a place like this."