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A West Side Victorian's eclectic spirit

This distinctive French Second Empire brick home is an architectural standout in the historic Fargo Estate district on Buffalo’s West Side. The neighborhood’s heterogeneous mix of long-time residents, young entrepreneur types and refugees is mirrored by homeowner Vanessa Fineberg’s diverse and vibrant tastes.

The 33-year-old’s playful design style is evident throughout the 2,664-square-foot Victorian — from the leopard-carpeted winding staircase in the entryway to the Scalamandre Zebra hand-printed wallpaper in the dining room.

Scoring unique finds from antique stores, estate sales, flea markets, Craigslist, the Salvation Army and even the occasional garbage can, she effortlessly meshes mid-century and 1970s elements with Hollywood Regency and a Chinoiserie Asian vibe to create an aesthetic all her own.

“If you keep things eclectic, you never have to redo a whole room; just swap out a piece or two,” Fineberg advises. ”It keeps decorating fun and not a burden.”

A West Side Victorian's eclectic spirit | Buffalo Magazine

She comes by her design sense honestly, as her mother was once a decorator and Fineberg would accompany her on jobs. “My house was always being worked on when I was growing up. The smell of sawdust is better than the scent of perfume to me,” she joked.

It’s a good thing, considering how much work has gone into the home she has owned for just two years: replastering and painting walls, stripping wallpaper, restoring fireplace mantels and refinishing floors, just for starters. She is currently whitewashing the floors in her spare bedroom and converting a smaller bedroom into a walk-in closet.

A West Side Victorian's eclectic spirit | Buffalo Magazine

“When you have an old house, everything has to be custom made. My dream is to walk into Home Depot, pick something off the shelf and have it work,” said Fineberg.

Luckily, she has been able to lean on her boyfriend, John Marfoglia, an artist and the owner of Queen City Antiques on Hertel, for both his home improvement skills and his keen eye for treasures. (Unfortunately for him, Fineberg has confiscated more than one of his antiques before they ever had the chance to hit the shop floor.)

A West Side Victorian's eclectic spirit | Buffalo Magazine

Sharing her fabulously decorated home with Marfoglia and another boarder, Fineberg embraces the idea of communal living and is happiest when there’s a full house. A self-described homebody, she admits that she’d rather skip a party and instead spend the time creating a really great space to have one.

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