By Kristi L. Nelson
The Knoxville News-Sentinel, Tenn.
Real-estate agent Cindy Bradley has known for years how she’d want to get older, should she end up alone. She saw it on a sit-com about three widows and a divorcee.
“My friends and I had always laughed when the ‘Golden Girls’ were on, and I would always say, ‘Don’t worry — when we’re old, I’ll buy us a quad pod!'” Bradley said.
Then one day last year, Bradley was looking at an empty lot behind her office, Signature Homes on Cedar Lane, and inspiration hit. Later, she sat down and sketched out on a paper napkin plans for what she nicknamed the “Golden Girls House,” where four women could live together but have their own space.
“I had a widowed client who told me how afraid she was of living alone, and how lonely she was,” said Bradley, 60. “I thought, you know, with 10,000 of us a day turning 65, we have to change the conversation about how we house seniors. So I thought, ‘OK, how do I want to live if something happens to my husband? … I like to be alone, but I don’t want to live alone.”
Architect Bob Alcorn and builder Gerald Cress made her plans a reality. The result, completed in November, is a 3,000-square-foot house on the lot, with four master bedroom suites, each with a private sitting room and bath. Residents will share a large living room, dining room, kitchen and screened-in porch.
Bradley designed the one-level house with “aging in place” in mind. Doorways all are wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs; corners all are rounded. A bar in the kitchen is low, for sitting during food prep. Shower stalls are open and include a built-in bench, hand-held sprayer and grab bar disguised as a shelf.