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January Home of the Month: Penthouse city living

From their sixth-floor penthouse apartment at Canterbury Woods Gates Circle, Judy and Alan Duchan enjoy pointing out the views through the large, expansive windows: Gates Circle, Chapin Parkway, City Hall, the Richardson Towers, the Central Terminal, the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and, on a clear day, even the Skylon Tower in Niagara Falls, Ont.

The Duchans have decorated the interior of their 2,000-square-foot corner apartment with original artwork and artifacts, boldly painted accent walls, custom-built open shelving and a mix of new and old furniture.

Engineered hardwood flooring runs throughout. A 14-foot island creates a gathering/cooking/entertaining place in the main living space that combines the kitchen with living and dining areas. And two terraces provide different views of the city – and beyond.

“Newly built, bright and modern with gorgeous views of Buffalo,” is how the couple described their place when it was featured last September on as a Home of the Week, with photos submitted by the couple.

The News recently visited the Duchans to photograph the apartment and learn more about how they have personalized it.

Judy, a retired University at Buffalo professor, and Alan, a retired economist at Canisius College, said the move has been a good one. They love the location, with its proximity to restaurants and shops.

Located on the site of the former Millard Fillmore Hospital at Gates Circle, Canterbury Woods Gates Circle is a continuing care retirement community. (You can read more about it and its sister community in Amherst at

The main tower of the former hospital was imploded on Oct. 3, 2015. Two years later, the Duchans moved into their newly built home.

The main living space. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

Some highlights:

• Furnishings are a combination of pieces from their former home in the Parkside neighborhood and new purchases. The red sofa, artwork and a desk that belonged to Judy’s parents were among the things that came from their Parkside house. The Duchans purchased the dining table, chandelier and dining chairs by Italian architect/designer Mario Bellini for Cassina for the new place.

• The kitchen features stainless appliances, a 14-by-3¾-foot island with quartz top and a mother-of-pearl tiled backsplash.

• The Duchans enjoy collecting original art. Among the local artists: Elisabeth Samuels, Mark Lavatelli, Polly Little, Nancy Belfer, Catherine Parker and Kathleen Sherin. Judy has some pieces on display as well.

• The couple opted for bold colors for the accent walls. A teal wall in the main living space provides a background for their collection of masks from around the world. The red accent wall in the bedroom complements the bedding and art by Elisabeth Samuels, director/curator of Indigo Art and one of three principals of Resource:Art, along with Anna Kaplan and Emily Tucker.

Bold color is found elsewhere: the red sofa, dining chairs and tablecloth in the main living space; side chairs in spring green or purple in various rooms and, of course, the artwork.

• In the den, books, small sculptures and other artifacts are displayed on custom-built, open shelving designed locally by California Closets. It takes up an entire wall.

The new place is an ideal setting for their paintings, sculptures, mask collection and other artwork – some, but not all of it, contemporary.

An alabaster bust of a young Judy dates back to World War II, for example, when her father was stationed in the Carrara region of Italy. He presented a photo of Judy, her sister and mother to an Italian sculptor, who created three busts.

For the Duchans, who had lived in a house on Jewett Parkway for more than 40 years, downsizing took awhile – but they had time to prepare for the move.

“We knew two years ahead of time that we were going to do this,” Judy said.

Being academics, they had a “huge number of books” to sort through, she said.

Many landed in a bookstore in Niagara Falls. The Duchans donated photography books and equipment to CEPA Gallery. They donated other books to the University at Buffalo and SUNY Buffalo State.

“We decided that our things should have a good home,” Alan said.

The den with custom open shelving locally designed by California Closets. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

Details: The apartment at a glance

In fall 2017, Judy and Alan Duchan moved into Canterbury Woods Gates Circle, after selling their home of more than 40 years in the Parkside neighborhood. They were among the very first residents to move into the new continuing care retirement community. The couple was able to choose from a selection of finishes and materials on items such as flooring and countertop.

Here’s a peek inside:

Layout: The 2,000-square-foot penthouse apartment features an open floor plan that combines living and dining areas with the kitchen. The one-floor layout also includes a den; two bedrooms (one is used as an office); two full baths; laundry; and lots of storage including a pantry.

Colors: Linen-white painted walls combine with accent walls – teal in the main living space, spring green in the office, red in the master bedroom and walk-in closet. The den is painted chocolate brown, with white custom shelving and trim. The baths also have walls in shades of brown.

Floors: Shaw-brand engineered hardwood flooring in Grayson Oak Manor color/finish. Porcelain tile modeled after Calacatta marble in the baths. Area rugs from Markarian on Delaware Avenue in Kenmore.

Lighting: Striking chandelier in dining area; recessed lights; trio of pendants above kitchen island; modern floor lamps; tabletop lamps.

Window treatments: Shades that allow in light are installed on the large windows.

Artwork: Masks from around the world along with sculptures, folk art and paintings, often by local artists.

Outdoors: There are two terraces – one off the main living area, the other off the master bedroom.


* News Staff Reporter Mark Sommer interviewed the Duchans as they prepared to move into Canterbury Woods Gates Circle in fall 2017:

A new urban option for seniors as Canterbury Woods opens Buffalo site



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