But with their grown children moving on, they were ready for a complete change of lifestyle.
"Once the kids left, we knew we'd be ready to move," Jennifer Bartley recalled. "This 'lock and leave' lifestyle is perfect for us."
Moreover, the traveling couple wanted to turn the page to a new and elegant chapter in their lives as empty nesters. They donated, and at one point, discarded, just about every piece of furniture from their Howard County house to begin anew in their 2,800-square-foot unit overlooking the waterfront.
"My [design] inspiration was the Ritz hotel in Paris," Jennifer Bartley said of her chic and graceful French provincial decor.
With the help of interior designer Mary Wolf, she bought books on French style and set about choosing fabrics, paint, wallpaper and, most importantly, carpeting and furniture.
From their private vestibule on the third floor, double doors lead to a foyer, hall, and finally, the home's magnificently furnished open interior.
Glimmering crystal, mirrors and silver candlesticks catch the late afternoon light and bounce from the chandelier to a glass-topped pedestal dining table. Gilt-edged, tone-on-tone richly upholstered furniture sits on French Aubusson rugs on white marble flooring.
"I change accessories seasonally," explained Jennifer Bartley. Holiday colored pillows, silk flowers, candles and throws easily complement the light taupe shade of the wall paint and wallpaper, which are all Farrow and Ball designs.
In the far corner of the room, potted topiaries sit atop a vintage armoire from an antiques store in Frederick. A 6-foot-by-5-foot gilt-framed mirror hangs on a wall above an Empire-style sofa and reflects an original Jürgen Görg painting of nudes that was a birthday present from Bill Bartley to his wife.
Bill Bartley, president and CEO of EVAPCO manufacturing companies, said the second half of his wife's gift was an evening dinner reservation at Charleston restaurant in Inner Harbor East.
Amid the elegance of French decor, there is a whimsical side to the design of the couple's two-bedroom home. Jennifer Bartley has furnished the family/TV room with pieces from the hand-painted MacKenzie-Childs collection purchased at Neimann Marcus. The furniture and accessories showcase brightly painted pottery and ceramics, floral and animal fabrics from nature and the check pattern for which MacKenzie-Child is known.
The home features a study that the couple refers to as "our little nook." In one wing of the unit is the master suite with a marble bath and individual walk-in closets and dressing rooms.
"This is my favorite room," said Jennifer Bartley of the bedroom, delicately accented with Yves Delorme French linens on a large bed that rests below a crystal chandelier. Crystal accessories also sit on a hand-painted vanity with a matching satin-topped stool.
The view from the bedroom's window presents a stunning vista of the water and manicured gardens below.
The three-story waterfront residences, built of brick in a form of Beaux Arts style, overlook impeccably landscaped gardens that include a variety of topiary encircling a large lighted fountain.
"I focused on this unit for the view. I bought the fountain!" Jennifer Bartley jokes.
Knowing how lucky they are to be a part of city life while basking in elegant accommodations, Jennifer Bartley never takes her surroundings and new life style for granted.
"We worked very hard to get all of this; it fits us, and this is where we plan to stay," she said.
Making the dream
Dream element: Jennifer and Bill Bartley's third-floor condominium at the Ritz-Carlton Residences overlooks Baltimore's Inner Harbor, offering views of the city skyline. Residents of the Ritz enjoy all of the amenities of a five-star hotel along with the perks of an urban lifestyle.
Dream exterior: A brick promenade along the property's periphery, as well as a front entrance courtyard with a large portico and uniformed staff, imparts both a country villa atmosphere along with an upscale ambience.
Dream interior: The Bartleys have chosen an elegant French provincial interior decor modeled after the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Paris. Neutral fabrics, gilt wood, crystal and silver and gilt tones compliment magnificent Empire-style furniture, sprinkled with period antiques.