Chris and Lorissa Naugle find a new career in real estate
This 1,900-square-foot Williamsville home is the epitome of midcentury design with sleek, clean lines.
Photos by kc kratt
In 2014, Buffalo natives Chris and Lorissa Naugle received what they now call “the magical postcard.” In reality, it was an invitation to a real estate seminar hosted by Discovery Channel’s Property Wars. The day of the seminar, cold and dreary weather prompted Lorissa to stay home, while Chris went to collect the free iPod incentive. That seminar, Chris says, changed their lives.
Former owner of Phatman Boardshops in Tonawanda, Chris had dabbled in real estate for a few years renovating apartment buildings, but the seminar ignited something. He immediately registered for a course in Rochester, and, this time, Lorissa, who formerly worked in banking, went along. By the second day of training in Rochester, they had their first deal under contract. Since then, they’ve closed more than 100 wholesale deals and completed more than thirty flips, with seven in the works.
The couple found that Lorissa’s banking background and Chris’s entrepreneurial instincts gave them an edge. “Basically, anything that has to do with real estate we’ve done,” says Lorissa, “but at the foundation of it all, we help other people.” With the Buffalo real estate market currently so lucrative, the Naugles have assisted investors from as far away as Dubai.
Chris and Lorissa travel extensively throughout the country, particularly out West, and found their niche in midcentury modern restoration and design. “We’d see crazy cool architecture out there, then we’d come back and all the newbuilds looked the same, boring,” says Chris. Lorissa adds, “We took a liking to Frank Lloyd Wright and Joseph Eichler,” modernist visionaries of midcentury design. They look for authentic 1950 builds with architectural significance and restore them to a simple modern aesthetic. Their most notable area properties are at 665 and 238 Hopkins Road in Williamsville and, most recently, 4179 Wildwood in Clarence.
The 238 Hopkins renovation was a labor of love the Naugles now call home. Built in the 1950s by architect and prior owner Alvin J. Oberst, the home attracted Chris from the start. He admits that he camped out at the open house admiring and studying every nook and cranny. His persistence paid off, and he and Lorissa purchased the property, paying $40,000 over asking price (Zillow reports the property sold for $210,001 in August 2015), then investing another $160,000 into renovation. The result is nothing less than breathtaking, and they believe that the property in now worth well over $500,000.
The dominant colors in the Williamsville home are white and gray, with pops of burnt orange. The space is flooded with natural light from a wall of windows.
The outside of the 1,900-square-foot home is the epitome of midcentury design with sleek, clean lines. In the center of the main living space sits a fireplace, open on three sides, which divides the room into spaces for living and dining. The Naugles opened up the space exposing a large kitchen, and the furnishings have been meticulously chosen to remain true to the midcentury style. The dominant colors are white and gray, with pops of burnt orange. The space is flooded with natural light from a wall of windows, a nod to the organic design of Frank Lloyd that opens to a lavish courtyard with built-in pool.
The 1949 beauty at 4179 Wildwood was in rough shape when the Naugles purchased it in 2015, “something out of a time capsule,” according to Chris. The floor plan of the 2,032-square-foot space was dramatically changed by opening up the first floor, adding a third bedroom, a second full bath, and a laundry room. The six-month renovation includes all new electrical and mechanicals, a resealed roof, new doors and windows, and new plumbing. The centerpiece of the main floor is a magnificent fireplace surrounded by a wall of Brazilian Teak Cumaru hardwood; bamboo hardwood flooring runs through the house, excepting the two tiled bathrooms.
The floor plan of the 2,032-square-foot Clarence space was dramatically changed by opening up the first floor,
From the main living space, floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors lead to a large, rebuilt deck that overlooks the half-acre property. The grounds have been fully landscaped with minimal simplicity to keep the integrity of the design. The exterior cedar shake shingles have been replaced with custom-colored, low-maintenance vinyl siding.
Jim Brett, president of West Elm, a modern furniture retailer under parent company Williams Sonoma, has said of midcentury design, “America is urbanizing again. The purpose this furniture served a long time ago is still a purpose it serves today: it’s intuitive to smaller spaces. I don’t know if there’s another time period with such a prolific amount of beautifully functional designs.” It is this philosophy that not only propelled the Naugles to invest in these property gems, but also has inspired them to combat cookie-cutter new builds by designing construction with simple and sophisticated midcentury style. Chris believes that current new builds don’t appeal to young professionals, and he and Lorissa aspire to change the way the new housing market looks with this new endeavor.
In the meantime, they share their knowledge through Flipout Academy, the educational component to their business. The unique aspect of Flipout Academy is one-to-one coaching that enables students to apply the knowledge that is learned. “We essentially hold our student’s hand through their first deal,” Chris says. He and Lorissa recognize that education is the most essential tool of the trade—they’ve invested $80,000 in their own since they got started—and underscore that message at Flipout Academy.
Although it might seem like the couple’s calendar is full, the Naugles have proposed a television show to HGTV about their flips and investments, and are currently awaiting a response. The duo sees this, not necessarily as a plug for themselves but rather a coup for Western New York and an opportunity to showcase the architecture and beauty of our region. The idea was born at an educational summit where Tarek and Christina El Moussa, stars of Flip or Flop on HGTV, were presenting. Chris realized the potential in Buffalo’s unchartered territory and pitched the idea to producers who showed some interest. Back home, he discussed the idea with Kyle Toth, producer and director at Promotional Productions, and they began filming.
The greatest myth about entrepreneurship may be that you need cash to get started, but the Naugles say the greatest factor is effort. “You need to hustle,” according to Lorissa. Indeed, in the hour it took to conduct this interview, Chris’s phone did not stop beeping, and, while answering questions, Lorissa problem-solved a printing mishap with marketing materials. The Naugles believe that with motivation, drive, and, most importantly, passion, real estate success is achievable for anyone.
Holly Metz Doyle lives in Amherst and is a freelance writer for various publications in WNY.