Talk of buying a vacation getaway in Ellicottville kicked into gear 20 years ago when Lisa and Kent Keating were expecting their daughter, Chloe. "We love to ski. I got bored in January, sitting home pregnant and not skiing. So one weekend I said to my husband, 'Let's just go to Holiday Valley; we'll stay in the hotel.' I was very pregnant but it didn't matter to me. I said to him, 'You can ski; I'll shop and just look around.' "
And look around she did. At real estate.
"We found this house, which was a complete diamond in the rough. We came in and realized the place had great bones," said Keating, who owns Leelee women's clothing store in Williamsville.
The place was smaller than it is today - about 1,600 square feet at the time with two small bedrooms on the lower level and two small ones on the main floor. And it needed work. Shag carpeting and paneling were removed. New flooring and fixtures installed. Bathrooms and plumbing updated. And the main living space and kitchen needed to be renovated, even though most of the original windows remained and no walls were moved.
"So about eight years later - we loved it, just loved it - but we said, 'Well, what are the things that we don't like about this house?' The only two things were we didn't have a garage and we didn't have a beautiful master suite. So we put on the garage and a master bedroom with bath."
Before that, soon after buying the place, Kent Keating created the layout for their new kitchen during the initial renovation - creating some privacy so that the food prep area was not totally visible from the adjoining living and dining areas. The floor-to-ceiling fireplace, designed from manufactured stone veneer using the dry stack method, separates the two areas. The insert itself is only 16 inches deep, which enabled a counter to be installed on the side facing the kitchen, explained Keating, owner of Buffalo Precision Glass and a graduate of the University at Buffalo with a degree in environmental design.
The kitchen features granite countertops; washed-green, knotty-pine cabinets with leaf-shaped hardware and some glass fronts; stainless-steel appliances, and a dining counter with stools.
In the adjoining living area, a 9-foot dining table is placed near large windows, while upholstered seating is placed between the fireplace and large-screen television. Furniture came from a variety of sources - from Ethan Allen to antique stores. Many furnishings and accessories were found while traveling to Phoenix and other vacation destinations.
Chloe's room is found on this main level, as is a full bath with a sink that is hand painted with horses, trees and mountains that they carried back on a plane after a trip to Mexico.
The master bedroom and bath take up the third floor and feature a see-through fireplace separating the two spaces. Highlights in the bath include a 6-by-8-foot steam shower crafted from travertine tiles with a glass enclosure and pebble floor - as well as marine speakers. The master bath also includes granite countertops, a travertine tile floor, Jacuzzi tub, two sinks, a large round ottoman and an antique armoire for holding towels.
Lisa Keating said that bringing in the oversized glass-front armoire - in lieu of a closet - was one of Tom Zulawski's ideas. The designer, of ZDesign, worked with the Keatings, sourcing materials, sharing ideas, etc.
“They had planned a stationary closet there, but I thought it was intrusive and blocked the view. Plus an antique piece added to the old feel of the room,” said Zulawski, who refers to Lisa Keating as “a view girl,” since she so much appreciates a wonderful view from a room.
The master suite's tongue-and-groove knotty pine ceiling echoes the ceiling in the living space downstairs. "It gives it the cabin feel, and it gets a patina that looks even better with age," Kent Keating said.
The couple said they purchased the house for about $135,000 20 years ago and have invested about $300,000 it.
Other highlights in this vacation getaway:
- A recreation room on the lower level is original to the home and was a favorite spot growing up for Chloe, now a college sophomore, and her friends. The Keatings added fresh paint, the hardwood floor and new lighting fixtures.
- Down the hall from the rec room is what Lisa Keating calls "the bunk room" - with bunk beds, a twin bed and beanbag chair. Perfect for sleepovers.
- A balcony wraps around the home, while a hot tub is accessible through sliding doors off the kitchen.
- The frame on a mirror in the foyer displays a collection of ski passes issued to the family through the years. A wall leading up the stairs to the master suite is covered with framed family photographs - among the many personal touches found throughout the home.
Lisa Keating summed up the place this way: "It'a cozy. It's not too big. For a vacation home, it's manageable."
Lisa and Kent Keating are lifelong skiers who have enjoyed their vacation home in Ellicottville for 20 years. Here is a peek inside:
Layout: The three-story home features a recreation room, two guest bedrooms and guest bath on lower level. The main level houses a combined living and dining area; kitchen; full bath, and daughter Chloe's room. The 24-by-38-foot master bedroom and bath, added to the original house, make up the third floor.
Furniture: Selected to reflect the mountain cabin-style theme of the home, highlights include a leather sofa; wormwood dining table; weathered leather kitchen stools with silkscreens of vintage cowboy prints, and an antique armoire in master bath. The couple purchased a whimsical, deer-themed desk chair years ago from an auction fundraiser at Studio Arena.
Floors: Slate in main entrance on lower level; travertine tile in master bath; maple in main living areas; area rugs, and durable stair carpeting -- all patterned in rich earth tones.
Lighting: Low-voltage track lighting in main living areas; mountain cabin-themed lamps and hanging fixtures.
Paint colors: Main color throughout is Sherwin-Williams Blonde. Daughter Chloe's rooms is a light blue shade called Take Five, also by Sherwin-Williams.
Window treatments: Minimal. Wood blinds in master bath; velvet and silk draw draperies in master bedroom. Loose valances fashioned from suede and trimmed with faux fur in living room.
Artwork and accessories: Ski- and cabin-themed paintings and accent pillows; cowboy statue in foyer; cowboy hats and boots (one pair belonged to Lisa Keating's late father); animal carvings; cozy throws; wine bottle tree; wooden skis (belonged to Kent Keating's late father); framed family photos; a photo sculpture on acrylic stand designed by Kent Keating; nature-themed Galle and Daum glass vases; saddle holder converted into comforter rack in master bedroom, and a wall clock by main entrance with movable hands that reads "Out skiing will be back at ..." -- handed down by previous owner.
"I collect things everywhere," Lisa Keating said.