Share this article

print logo

1980s flashback home is a hot real estate listing in Williamsville

Viewing the real estate listing for the four-bedroom house on Contessa Court in Williamsville was like stumbling upon pictures from the set of a 1980s sit-com.

The house looked like it had been hermetically sealed the year it was built – 1988. It could have been decorated by the cast of “Designing Women” for an episode of “Miami Vice,” then unsealed again to host a “Saved by the Bell” reunion special.

From the outside, it looks like any other upscale, two-story house. But inside, each room is decorated at the height of 1980s contemporary glamour, using all the colors of the Rubik’s Cube and preserved in full neon glory.

There’s a purple, stone-washed leather sectional; a love seat shaped like a pair of red, pouting lips; and geometric patterns as far as the eye can see.

The sellers were a couple in their mid-50s, one of them a dentist, and were the home’s original owners. They had decorated it in the style of the times when they first moved in, and maintained the look throughout the years.

“They were cool, artsy people and they just wanted to downsize,” said Bonnie Clement, the Hunt listing agent who sold the house. “It was very, very well cared for. Absolutely immaculate. Everything is top of the line.”

The house was on the market for one day before the first people who viewed it snapped it up for $390,000. But fans of 1980s architecture and decor, which are coming back into vogue, were clamoring for a peek.

“I have never had so many calls about a house. People were begging me to let them in, but I couldn’t because we were already under contract,” Clement said.

The house even got national attention, when consumer website the Consumerist caught wind of the listing. It posted photos of the home’s interior, with characters from 1980s pop culture photoshopped into each room. Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey re-create their “Dirty Dancing” lift in the black, marble jacuzzi tub. Will Smith, the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, poses in a bedroom. And Sinbad gives the thumbs up from behind a semi-circular, purple and silver desk.

The buyers, who are moving here from out of town for jobs in education, haven’t made any decisions about renovations, their real estate agent said. But early indications show they’re leaning toward a more subdued look.

“There’s a lot of purple carpeting in there that I know they’re going to take out. There’s some faux finishing; that will go,” said Sarah Robitaille-Kubiak, the buyers’ agent, with Robitaille Real Estate. “I think they’re going to tone it down.”

The buyers also have asked the sellers to remove some detachable furniture, such as a set of purple, faux-marble bookshelves and banks of brass and white, lacquered bedroom drawers that give the appearance of built-in cabinetry.

Some of the 1980s decor is built into the house. There are glass block windows alongside the silver and black fireplace; brass-rimmed, mirrored sliding doors on the bedroom closets; and the custom-designed kitchen sports a breakfast bar with neon-wrapped pillars. But much of the home’s 1980s appeal comes from the colorful, pop artwork; ultra-modern furniture and futuristic window dressings that will leave with the former owners.

“Once the art and the belongings are out and they’ve got their own furniture in, it’s going to look like a completely different house,” Robitaille-Kubiak said.The buyers didn’t specifically ask to see modern, contemporary-style homes. They looked at quite a few old houses in the city, as well as many traditional and colonial homes, which make up the bulk of Western New York’s housing stock. They even bid on, and lost, a much older home in Snyder.

But while it wasn’t the 1980s time capsule factor that attracted the buyers, the modern style of the contemporary home did help seal the deal.