Inquire about any piece of furniture, accessory or painting in the Bartolone home and Elizabeth Bartolone has a story about it.
The low-post bed in the guest room? "That was my grandparents' bed when they were first married."
The lineup of miniature buildings on top of the armoire in the living room? "Those are Russian churches. I've been there three times."
The painting in the dining room? "We bought it on a trip to Italy. He was in the middle of painting it and we asked if we could buy it. But we asked if he could not use so many bright colors. He said something along the lines of, 'Don't tell me how to paint!' "
But he backed off from the brights.
Elizabeth Bartolone and her husband, Paul, who works in the banking industry, bought this house in Amherst four years ago -- furnishing it with the things they love.
Most of those things were collected over time or are family pieces. "We don't like to go out and just buy things. We like to collect stuff," said Bartolone, who recently gave The News a tour of the home and discussed its decor before their children - Emma, a sixth-grader, and Sam, a fifth-grader - arrived home from school.
As for furniture, everything from their previous home in Williamsville fit into the new place. "We didn't have to buy anything when we moved here," said Bartolone, the original owner of the Homeward Bound furniture and accessories store that closed in 2014. She now is a freelance set designer for local production companies and also works at Pottery Barn Kids.
The Bartolones are the home's second owners. While it needed updating, the house, which was built in the late 1960s, is very sound structurally and features high quality materials. It was built for the first owner, who chose beautiful items such as crown molding, six-panel doors and tasteful marble for the fireplace, Bartolone said. She considers this house to be not so very old, since her previous residences dated back to the 19th- and early-20th centuries.
"Even though our house is relatively new, it is full of history - our history," she said.
After purchasing the house in the mid-$280,000s, the couple updated the baths and gutted the kitchen. The countertops are granite, with subtle flecks of silver and gold metallics and a touch of blue in one section near the sink. The appliances are from the Frigidaire Gallery of Smudge-Proof Stainless Steel collection. The shape of the handles on the appliances matches the shape of the brushed-nickel handles on the espresso-finish cabinets.
Another detail: The bubbled glass on the doors of the cabinets in the bar area imitates the textured glass of the hanging light pendants above the dining peninsula.
The new white oak floor in the kitchen has a wider plank and lighter finish than the red oak hardwood in the adjoining dining and living rooms but is still complementary.
The couple worked with local contractor Rocco "Rocky" DelGrosso.
"I wanted to make the kitchen as efficient as it could be. The Bartolones have two children, and the family wanted a snack bar for quick meals. It's also the centerpiece of the home. You can see it when you walk down the foyer, the back hall and from the dining room so it had to have beautiful presence. We worked together and came up with a good plan. I think we came up with something efficient, functional and beautiful - in a relatively confined space," said DelGrosso, owner of Krislyn Co.
Accessories and collections throughout the home include: Artwork from the annual Paint the Town art auction presented by the Buffalo History Museum. Framed silhouettes of their children from an artist at the Allentown Art Festival. Decorative pillows, including several from Pottery Barn. A buffalo head crafted from recycled cardboard hanging on a wall. Wood shoes on a mantel. Family photographs, deer antlers found in the backyard and several of her father's old hand tools on the bookshelves in the family room. Dog figurines, including one on her parents' piano in the living room.
"We don't have dogs so we have these dogs," Bartolone laughed.
Natural light fills the rooms of this home - especially in the sun room, which is furnished with rattan furniture, a striped area rug and a dining table found at an antique store in Vermont. They were told that the base is part weaving loom and part rope bed. They had its glass top cut to fit. The black-and-white checkerboard floor consists of individual 16-inch vinyl squares that can be lifted and replaced if damaged since this room gets all kinds of kids' traffic in all kinds of weather.
The paneled family room is the only dark room in the house but very cozy - the kind of place that looks as if it was designed for enjoying "a good cigar and good brandy," Bartolone said. A concolor fir Christmas tree from Russell's Tree & Shrub Farm sits near the front window and is decorated with favorite ornaments.
"We have a lot of mushrooms and gnomes going on," she said.
The rest of the holiday decorations came from a range of places but blend together from one room to the next: thrift stores (a white reindeer displayed under a glass dome alongside antique figurines); Bed, Bath & Beyond (the lighted faux garland on the staircase railing), and their own backyard (deer antlers found on the property).
Similarly, one room flows seamlessly into another throughout the home. The Bartolones chose the checkerboard floor in the sun room because it blends harmoniously with the granite countertops in the adjoining kitchen, for example.
"We don't have an open-concept home but the rooms have wide openings. We tried very hard to tie the rooms together through color," Bartolone said.