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Home of the Month: A renovated Buffalo carriage house exudes elegance

Linda Schineller had no intention of moving. Having years before sold the Snyder home in which she raised her daughters, she was renting a carriage house on Delaware Avenue. She was content and free of home maintenance chores.

“The owner even changed the lightbulbs,” she said.

Then her daughter, Amelia Nussbaumer, set the wheels in motion. She and her husband, Newell, had learned of another carriage house available – this one for sale, not for rent.

“I don’t want to own another home,” she told them.

That sentiment was about to change. She agreed to take a look at the place, built in the 1880s in the Queen Anne style. It needed work – a lot of work – but Schineller, like her daughter, knew the design and feel of the place were right for her.

“The feeling when I first came into the carriage house, before I bought it, is it immediately spoke to me. It said ‘it feels like an apartment in Paris’ – but not even an apartment. A romantic garret. I was going to write my books here,” said Schineller, who bought the carriage house in May 2013.


GALLERY: June’s Home of the Month


The books have not yet been written, but the carriage house has been renovated, a process that involved what she called “a community affair” – family, design-savvy friends, architect, contractor, garden designer and her own decorating skills and sense of place.

“We gutted the place but kept the bones,” said Schineller, director of marketing and business development at Hodgson Russ attorneys.

Among the changes and updates:

• The living room ceiling was opened up and white beams installed, although the one original beam was kept intact. The fireplace surround and mantel were dressed up with new marble. Marble also was added to the tops of built-in bookcases. Windows were replaced. The original pine floor, refinished.

• The galley kitchen redo involved painting existing cabinets white and having additional cabinets built to match the originals. Additional moldings and a wine rack were added. The new countertops are marble, the appliances stainless and the cabinet hardware is polished nickel.

• The one bathroom is completely new with a large shower replacing an old tub.

• A new staircase, coat closet, walk-in closet and laundry and storage rooms were added. The carriage house also features new wallcoverings – Thibaut is a favorite line – and paint throughout.

When it came to decorating, Schineller began with the original feeling she had about the place – it being a romantic garret in Paris.

“That influenced the feeling of the interior furnishings. Along with that, knowing that the carriage house is in and of itself a Queen Anne style, there was the influence of Asian design at that time period. So I wanted to incorporate some of that as well. And the whole idea of a Parisian apartment is based on tradition and history and yet a strong splash of contemporary with Asian elements. So I wanted to bring in the contemporary pieces, too,” said Schineller, who grew up on Buffalo’s East Side, graduated from Kensington High School and earned a degree in classical languages from Canisius College, with a minor in art history.

The animal-print carpeting on the stairs, two stacked mirrors above the fireplace, orb chandelier, marble countertops and the newly opened beamed ceiling give the space a contemporary feel. Asian influences can be found in fabrics, wallpaper panels in the bedroom and a Henri Matisse print with goldfish.

“At the time he was fascinated with goldfish because they were from Asia,” she explained.

Others have noticed the unique decor. “It is so feminine without being over-the-top girly. It’s a very sophisticated blend of French, chinoiserie, contemporary and a touch of glam,” said Kathleen Rooney, of Kathleen Rooney Communications, who knows Schineller professionally.

Daughter Amelia Nussbaumer is glad she initiated the move.

“There was no question. When I was standing there, I was seeing the vision of the final product. I knew she needed to stand where I was standing and she would see it, too,” Nussbaumer said, recalling when she first saw the carriage house.

Schineller said she paid $127,000 for the carriage house and worked with a $100,000 budget to renovate it. She has no plans to move or travel as much as she once did.

Schineller, who worked for years in marketing and communications in Chicago, New York and Buffalo, traveled frequently to Europe.

These days, the carriage house suits her. “Everything you have in a larger home you have here – but on a smaller scale,” she said.

And it’s tranquil. “It is a very, very peaceful place to come home to. Now I can think about writing my books,” she said.

Her daughter and son-in-law were right. She belongs here.

“They were the cause of all this,” she laughed.