Home of the Month: South Buffalo couple fixing up their home room by room | Home & Garden

Visit the South Buffalo home of Jude and Elaine Kawczynski and it is clear they enjoy city living. Buffalo-themed artwork hangs on the walls. Shelves are filled with books on all things Buffalo – architecture, history, gardening and more.

Their 1,786-square-foot home, which was built in 1910, has been a work in progress for the do-it-yourselfers. For the past 10 years, they have stripped and refinished woodwork, repaired and refinished floors, remodeled, updated, painted, decorated and added many personal touches including handmade decor and family treasures.

And they have done it over time – room by room.

Earlier this year, the couple submitted a description and photos of their home for The News’ Home of the Week digital feature. It was published on BuffaloNews.com in February.

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The News recently visited the couple for an interview and photo shoot to learn more about their ambitious do-it-yourself projects. They have so far focused on the first floor but plan to update the second floor, which has four bedrooms, and work on the exterior as well.

While they began wanting to keep with traditional styling, they then decided to add some modern elements.

“We like the blend of the old with the new,” Jude Kawczynski said.

A chandelier they believe is original to the house hangs in the sitting area near the main staircase, while the lighting fixture in the remodeled kitchen is from Pottery Barn. An old desk chair found at a thrift store shares space with new seating from Ethan Allen with midcentury modern styling.

They also worked to preserve as much as they could and don’t mind imperfections that had occurred over time. While they replaced the door to the steps leading to the side entrance, they chose a style that blends with the other doors and woodwork in the house and used the original hardware from the old door.

In addition, they installed embossed fiber board tiles with a faux copper finish on the ceiling in the sitting area that reflect the past.

They also appreciate such architectural details as the home’s pocket doors, floors with inlays and even the laundry chute.

Elaine Kawczynski works in human resources for New York State. Jude Kawczynski is an interventional radiological technologist. They both grew up in Western New York. He graduated from St. Francis High School in 1977. She is a 1981 graduate of Hamburg Senior High School.

• Elaine Kawczynski took on the woodwork challenge. One major undertaking was stripping and refinishing the oak fireplace in the living room. She also tackled the main staircase.

Elaine Kawczynski stripped and refinished the fireplace.

• Jude Kawczynski repaired and refinished the hardwood floors and replaced some of the damaged inlaid pieces.

• The couple hired Delocon Kitchen and Bath of Springville for the kitchen remodel about six years ago but did the demo work and painting themselves. The kitchen features granite countertops, stainless steel appliances and porcelain tile flooring, with one area heated. The cabinets, some with glass fronts, have an espresso finish.

While most of the layout remained the same, updates included exposing the previously covered chimney and opening a section of the wall to the living room.

Elaine Kawczynski said she didn’t want the entire wall removed – one reason being it would limit furniture placement in the living room. But the new opening still visually connects the two rooms – and creates a handy pass-through.

As part of the remodel, the previously covered brick chimney was exposed and an opening was added to the wall. Elaine Kawczynski’s mother, the late Eleanor Arendt, painted the food-themed artwork.

• The couple created a lot of the artwork and decor in the house, including the “So. Buffalo” sign above the fireplace. Jude Kawczynski, a former sign painter, made the pair of signs in the dining room, based on Buffalo Metro Rail stations.

Jude Kawczynski, a former sign painter, made the signs in his remodeled dining room based on Buffalo Metro Rail stations.

• He also has several building projects in the home. He built the floor-to-ceiling bookcases in the living room, which flank the existing window seat. He built the white pantry cabinets and shelves in the kitchen, which replaced an existing pantry. As an interesting feature, he crafted the countertop using reclaimed wood flooring from a bowling alley in Frewsburg. He found the old wood on Craigslist and stripped it down.

Kawczynski said he learned carpentry skills from his father and older brother. His grandfather was a master carpenter. Jude repurposed his grandfather’s workbench into a desk in the sitting room, topping it with glass.

The house cost $89,900 when purchased about 10 years ago, and the couple estimated they have invested close to that amount in remodeling and updates, including the new kitchen, electrical and plumbing work, materials, furnishings, etc.

Although they had first hoped to buy a home in the Elmwood Village, the homes were out of their budget.

Their home in South Buffalo has been a good choice.

Jude Kawczynski explained it this way in his Home of the Week submission: “It’s in a nice neighborhood, in a good location … still very close to the places we like to visit,” he said, noting it’s a quick ride to downtown, Canalside, Larkinville and Elmwood.

Jude Kawczynski built the white pantry cabinets and shelves in the kitchen to re-create what was originally there.

Layout: A front room, once an open porch converted by a former owner, leads to a sitting area with chaise and desk near the main staircase. There is also a dining room; living room; remodeled kitchen; and half bath on the first floor. The second floor has four bedrooms and a full bath. There’s also an attic and basement.

Furniture: Traditional elements mixed with modern – including living room seating from the Lucy collection at Ethan Allen. Jude Kawczynski built the floor-to-ceiling bookcases in the living room along with the pantry cabinets and shelves in the kitchen; he crafted the pantry countertop using reclaimed wood from a bowling alley.

Other repurposed items include a desk he made using his grandfather’s workbench as a base and an old card catalog from the Central Library downtown that he bought at auction, which they now use for storage for television remotes, batteries and other items.

Floors: Area rugs on hardwood floors with decorative inlays; they repaired and refinished the floors themselves. Porcelain tiles are installed in the remodeled kitchen.

Wall colors: Glidden Sutton Place Gray in the living room, with Benjamin Moore Tucson Teal on the bookcases and window seat; Glidden Candlestick Silver in the kitchen, accented with BEHR Bon Nuit on the walls behind the pantry shelves; Glidden Warm Gold in the dining room.

Art and accents: Family pieces, including an old portable typewriter hung on the wall and a weathered suitcase used to store games; finds from their travels; handmade decor, and Buffalo-related items including many books on history, architecture and other topics.

Highlights include painted signs in the dining room made by Jude Kawczynski based on Buffalo Metro Rail stations; pressed and framed ferns in the living room, and food-themed artwork in the kitchen painted by Elaine Kawczynski’s mother, the late Eleanor Arendt.

Window treatments: Woven shades from Lowe’s. Curtains from JCPenney and Pier 1.

Love your home? Tell us about it.

One of the most popular features in The Buffalo News Home & Style section through the years has been the Home of the Month, which showcases a local home and the people who live there.

In addition to appearing in the print edition of the Sunday Home & Style section, it is also published on BuffaloNews.com – along with a collection of photos by a News staff photographer.

In fall 2017, we launched another feature that appears online only – the Home of the Week. This lets readers inside even more homes.

The Buffalo News continues to look for other local homes and the stories behind them and their décor. Those chosen for Home of the Week will be displayed in the digital feature.

As is the case with the Kawczynskis’ home, the residence could be chosen as a future Home of the Month.

Here’s what you need to do if you’re interested in submitting your residence for Home of the Week: Tell us about your home in about 150 words, and email 10 high-resolution images (in JPEG form; horizontals preferred) to homeandstyle@buffnews.com.

It’s OK to send the images split among several emails. Please include your name and the city or town where you live. A phone number is also helpful.

Those chosen for BuffaloNews.com will be contacted by Home and Style Editor Susan Martin. Single-family homes, condominiums, lofts and apartments are eligible.

We will contact those chosen to be featured. We will include your first and last names and the city or town in which you reside, but not your exact address.

For this digital feature, we will publish some or all of the photos you submitted.

If your place is chosen for Home of the Month, we will arrange a time to visit your home for an interview and our own photo shoot.

Questions? Problems submitting photos? Please email smartin@buffnews.com.

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