Cindi Kisiel-Smith and her husband, Ray Smith, enjoy as much time as they can at the cottage they bought and renovated in Wanakah. Although they are residents of Lilburn, Ga., Kisiel-Smith has many fond memories of Wanakah. She spent her childhood summers in a nearby cottage owned by her mother, the late Loretta Kisiel, who was born and raised in Buffalo.
After her mother married and, in the early 1960s, moved to El Paso, Texas, where Kisiel-Smith was born, she kept the cottage on Lake Erie and they spent summers there.
“To grow up in that area was phenomenal,” Kisiel-Smith said.
Now that Kisiel-Smith and her husband are semi-retired, they have more time to travel to Western New York.
Here is how she described the cottage for our online Home of the Week feature:
“My husband and I live in the Atlanta area. We purchased my Mom’s cottage in Wanakah in 2005 and began spending a portion of our summers there.
“In 2016 a lakefront cottage in the same community became available and we jumped on it. The renovation was a life lesson that I would prefer not to repeat.
“We did a total gut job down to the studs (which were also replaced) and enclosed a patio to create the master bath; moved a couple of walls to create a large kitchen with lake view; turned the existing bathroom (that must have been the inspiration for the movie ‘Psycho’) into a utility room; and restored the original claw foot tub and created a small guest bath.
“I think a good title might be ‘Lake Front Cottage Rescue,’ ” she wrote.
The cottage is now their vacation home and they are currently also renovating her late mother’s cottage, she added.
Do you love your house enough to show it off? This could be your chance.
The Buffalo News is looking for other beautiful local homes and the stories behind them and their décor. Those chosen will be displayed in a weekly feature at buffalonews.com and could be chosen as Home of the Month in a Sunday edition of The Buffalo News.
If you are interested, tell us about your home in 150 words or less, and email 10 images (in .jpg form) of the interior and exterior to
It’s OK to separate the images into several emails.
Those chosen for BuffaloNews.com will be contacted by Home and Style Editor Susan Martin. A phone number is helpful. Single-family homes, condominiums, lofts and apartments are eligible.
The News will include your name and the city or town in which you reside but not your exact address.
If you have difficulty submitting images, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Story topics: home of the week