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City and sand: For couple living near lake, it’s the perfect lifestyle

Most people enjoy getting to know their neighbors. When it’s Lake Erie right outside your door, it takes some time to get acquainted.

“The lake has a million personalities. When it’s angry, it gets crazy,” said Chris Mattioli, who shares this recently expanded home with his wife, Leanne, and their 7-month-old daughter, Halston.

For that reason, landscaping, windows, walls and exterior materials such as the gray insulated vinyl siding were chosen with high winds and storms in mind. But the lake and its ever-changing moods also inspired the interior design of the home.

“Our kitchen finishes, such as the countertop with intense gray streaks, were chosen the day we had a huge storm sweep in. The calm ivory master suite was designed on a 90-degree vibrantly sunny day, and our upper gathering room was inspired by the beautiful autumn sunsets,” said Leanne, a North Tonawanda native.

What once was an 1,100-square-foot seasonal cottage is now close to a 3,000-square-foot year-round residence. Leanne coined the location “city and sand.” And the Mattiolis, who own three businesses, love coming home to it.

Its location on Lake Erie in Hamburg fits their lifestyle. It’s about a 10-15 minute drive to downtown. They enjoy views of the Buffalo skyline and fireworks on both sides of the border. Last Friday from their upper deck, they could hear Marilyn Manson playing the Outer Harbor.

Working with an architect, the couple not only built up but also out onto an additional lot they purchased.

Leanne described the expanded house as a modified saltbox. The bunker-style side facing the road provides privacy and sound protection. The side facing the beach features expansive windows and a large stone patio for entertaining that includes a platform wired for live music. Chris, an Amherst native who in 2003 launched an online dating site for athletic, fitness-minded singles, also plays in two bands – Beatlemagic, a Beatles tribute band, and Nelson Starr and the Benjamins.

The house cost $205,000 in 2008 – $250,000 including the price of an additional lot. The Mattiolis, who moved here from a larger home in Wheatfield, estimated they have put in more than three times that amount for the expansion. Among the upscale features: Quartzite kitchen countertops, custom sinks and a home-automation system that includes remote-powered custom wrought iron gates; cameras and plasma screens that project views of the lake throughout the home; sound system; and thermostat controls. The 1930s-style master bathroom, inspired by one Leanne saw in a Buffalo home, features an air tub as well as a steam shower with pebble foot-massaging floor.

To further integrate the indoors with the out, they change some furnishings with the seasons. During the warm-weather months, sand-friendly leather replaces chenille seating in the living room, and patterned rugs are rolled up until the late fall.

Style-wise, midcentury pieces mix with newer minimalist ones, while the couple put an emphasis on timeless materials, fixtures and decor.

“I wanted classic. I don’t want it to go out of style,” said Leanne, who along with Chris owns a pet spa in Amherst. She also owns a women’s boutique in Wilson.

Her mother, Darlene Powers, said that Leanne has a sentimental side that comes through in the decor.

A piano in the living room belonged to Leanne’s grandfather, Adam Opacinch, who owned Adam’s Accordion Studio in Dunkirk. Upstairs in the “Sunset” gathering room, the reupholstered sofa and matching barrel chair also came from her grandparents. Old hatboxes in the master walk-in closet are printed with the Bonwit Teller logo. The fabric valances in baby Halston’s room were made from the draperies that hung in Leanne’s bedroom after she was born in 1975.

It all ties together for this busy couple.

As Leanne explained: “We’re always on the go, with never time to vacation. This home is allowing us to make the most of every free moment. The ever-changing landscape of crashing waves and blazing sunsets makes each day unique and memorable.”


The blueprint

When it came to expanding a seasonal cottage into a year-round home, the Mattiolis knew they wanted open spaces, timeless styling and ample views of the ever-changing landscape.

Here’s a peek inside the place they share with their 7-month-old daughter, Halston, and four rescue dogs:

The layout: Open plan overlooking Lake Erie with large living/dining area, kitchen, guest bedroom and full bath on first floor. Second floor has center “Sunset” gathering room separating master suite on one side; baby’s bedroom, full bath and guest room/office on the other. Deck off the Sunset Room may become a solarium. Master suite includes walk-in closet, 1930s-style bathroom and laundry. “Man cave” in basement. Large stone patio for entertaining.

Floors: Pergo XP laminate flooring emulates whitewashed planks and stands up to beach sand and dog claws. Area rugs change with season. Ceramic tile in bathrooms and kitchen.

Furniture: Midcentury pieces mixed with new, including tufted leather sofa and chairs from West Elm catalog. Mirrored case goods. Inherited family pieces.

Window treatments: Neutral-toned Hunter Douglas shades – some light-filtering, others room-darkening.

Wall colors: Muted, with Sherwin-Williams’ buff in the living room, Medici ivory upstairs and ecru in the kitchen with robin’s egg blue cabinets. Lemon meringue in guest bedroom. Light blue in upstairs bath. Shell pink in master bathroom. Ceilings are white.

“I wanted to make the water the showcase,” Leanne said, of the beachfront view out the windows.

Details: Large framed floor mirror in living room. Peacock-themed dinnerware and accessories in kitchen/dining areas. Big vases of vintage-inspired flowers, including fluffy mums. Ceiling fans throughout. Custom sinks, including hammered aluminum in master bath.

“Every sink has to have personality,” Chris said.

– Susan Martin


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