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From the Homefront: A living room finally designed for ‘living’

Dr. Carlos L. and Dana Martinez of the Town of Lancaster never used their living room until they decided to do some redecorating in preparation for house-guests and activities surrounding their son’s wedding later this year. Now it’s one of their favorite rooms. Their children – ages 24, 27 and 30 – enjoy it too when they come over.

Interior designer Pamela Witte, of White Orchard Home Furnishings in Orchard Park, helped them create the space. The freshly painted room – in shades of gray and white – features a power recliner sofa (that does not look like a recliner), upholstered chairs in complementary prints, a white shag area rug, a sheepskin rug used as a sofa throw, an ottoman, round coffee table, several accent pieces and – two items that were there before – a baby grand piano and grandfather clock.

Framed artwork finishes off the room. Some came from Carlos Martinez’s native Puerto Rico. Others reflect Dana Martinez’s love of the water.

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“I just find being near the water very peaceful,” she said.

Like many couples, they each have their favorite spot to sit. She prefers the chair that is covered in a leaf-print fabric. He prefers the right end of the sofa.

“That’s where the bright light is,” said Carlos Martinez, who reserves that spot for his “fun” reading. He does his work reading in his home office across the hall.

“On weekends, we listen to music in there,” he added, noting that he enjoys jazz, classical and ’70s music.

Recently, Dana Martinez – office manager at her husband’s rheumatology practice – talked about this transformation in the home they built and have lived in since 1992, after their daughter was born.

Q. You rarely used the living room before redecorating it?

A. Nobody ever sat in here. It was very formal and stuffy. It was the formal couch, and the piano was over in the corner that looked to the wall. There were old tapestry fabric valances. I don’t know what I was thinking at the time but I thought it was appropriate for a formal living room. But we literally never sat in here. I said to Carlos, ‘We need to brighten this up – put some sunlight in here and make it a pleasant place to sit.’ So I went into Pamela’s store and found three pieces of furniture (a sofa and two chairs) all at one time. I didn’t even have to wait for it to be ordered. The furniture came before we even painted the room.

Q. What about the rug?

A. I thought it was just fun. It added personality.

Q. How do you use the room now?

A. It’s just a quiet place to sit. We have a glass of wine. I read. I knit. He sits and reads the paper. I bought my husband a turntable for Christmas – they’ve made a comeback – so we listen to music. We all learned to play the piano years ago so now our kids come and play while we all sit in here.

Q. Have you ever had a recliner before?

A. No. We’ve never had one, but I saw this and liked it because it’s not your typical recliner that takes up a lot of space. It’s a space saver, so it doesn’t recline too far back.

Q. What about the grandfather clock?

A. I bought the clock – and the piano – in memory of my father after he passed – to pass along to the kids.

Q. No TV?

A. (Laughs) No TV. When we first did the room, the kids came over and said, “OK, now all you need is a TV.” I said, “No, that’s just the point!” I don’t want the TV in here. The TV is in a whole different part of the house. I just want quiet space.

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