A team approach
Two groups of professionals create the perfect space
Photos by kc kratt
The owner of a 100-year old Penhurst Park Tudor knew exactly what she wanted in a great room addition to her family’s home and, with the help of two teams of professionals, she brought that vision to life. Since moving into the home in 2001, the owner and her husband had overseen a number of renovation projects, beginning with the third floor in 2003, the second in 2006, and the kitchen in 2012.
In 2014, they approached Michael Poczkalski of Michael P. Design to create a great room addition that would open the house to the yard and create a modern space that still aligned with the original structure. Poczkalski assembled the first creative team, which included architect Brad Wales, who further enhanced the design, and David Rowe of DMR Contracting. In consultation with the owner, the three used a wide array of organic materials in the renovation, including terra cotta exterior fireplace cladding, walnut interior detail trim to match the home’s existing woodwork, powder-coated steel and glass railings, a polished exposed aggregate concrete floor, and checkerboard roof terrace decking.
The breathtaking new room is set at yard level, four steps down from the kitchen and existing living room. The space then opens up to the west using NanaWall movable glass walls flanking a see-through fireplace. The addition also includes a mudroom, office, and guest bath.
The extraordinary level of craftsmanship is visible throughout. Ribbon windows were recreated on both sides of the home. A corner window peeks out to the street. One of the most compelling features is the extended height of the exterior windows, which creates a sense of upward motion in the exterior façade.
Old Dutchman’s Wrought Iron in Getzville crafted the railings, which re-create motifs from the home’s stained glass windows and mirror the stairs to great sculptural effect. In the bathroom, gallery lighting highlights the restored stone façade that was formerly an exterior wall.
Wales loves to use exposed steel beams in his non-residential work, but has found that most homeowners shy from them. Happily, this owner felt the clean industrial aesthetic actually warmed and energized the design. “Not only are the steel beams beautiful, but they are also pure function,” Wales explains. “They are literally holding up a piece of the house.”
The see-through fireplace flanked by movable glass walls is topped (on right) with External Ink Dark Cobalt by Brooklyn’s Amanda Wachob.
The most challenging and time-consuming part of the renovation was choosing the fireplace and chimneys. The team knew that they did not want more stone but needed a material that could support a massive two-level structure and second floor porch. The owner called a friend who worked at Boston Valley Terracotta in Orchard Park to inquire whether TerraClad would work. The assembly was complex, as the pieces are all numbered, but the finished product is the striking focal point of the interrior and exterior views.
One final juxtaposition of old and new was the repurposing the home’s original hundred-year old Medina sandstone to create a patio in the yard. Stone removed from the former exterior wall has been used in the renovation and is also being constructed into a garden wall.
Homeowner, architect, designer, and contractor all agree that their unique collaboration truly made the original design better. Once the construction and finishes were completed, the homeowners, who are longtime art collectors, began working with another group of professionals to import the artwork that would finish the space.
Emily Tucker of Benjaman Gallery and Resource:Art arranged the purchase of a dramatic wall art piece by Jozef Bajus. The owner had admired his textile installation at the Burchfield Penney Art Center and later at the Hotel Henry space curated by Resource:Art. Bajus, an award-winning mixed-media artist originally from Slovakia, is currently an associate professor at Buffalo State and serves as the coordinator of the Fibers Program in the Art and Design Department.
This stunning Jozef Bajus artwork is created from vibrant circles of colored felt.
Created from circles of vibrantly colored felt connected by staples and stainless steel pins, the design was adapted for the home, extending organically over the uniquely curved door frame, simultaneously brightening and softening the space. “When the light hits the pins, it takes on a completely different look,” the homeowner says.
This past spring, the homeowner received an email from curatorial consultant Anna Kaplan of Anna Kaplan Contemporary announcing that she was representing Amanda Wachob, a Brooklyn-based artist originally from Buffalo. Pioneering the watercolor tattoo movement and actively bridging the gap between tattooing and fine art, Wachob has exhibited her work in galleries and museums worldwide, including a recent solo exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver.
The homeowners were captivated by the online photos of Wachob’s External Ink Dark Cobalt in that exhibit, in which temporary tattoo paper is adhered to canvas, and were delighted to finally see the work up close when it was hung in their home in June. “The piece adds a great energy to the room and beatifully bridges the interior and exterior spaces,” says Kaplan.
By leveraging the expertise of her advisors while maintaining her own strong vision, the homeowner now has a space that is an exquisite marriage of architecture and art.