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Reclaim, Reshape… Relax

Written by Jane Trabert Schmitt
Imagery by Sandra Kicman

In an old yet grand building on the cusp of downtown Buffalo, designer Pedro Manuel Freire opened the heart and mind of a client to a new way of living: simply yet rich in detail, modern yet mindful of tradition, beautifully but with unparalleled functionality.
    Along the way, he transformed the client’s multi-story one-of-a-kind residence that will provide comfort and inspiration for many years to come.
    “From the first sketches and ideas, he really loved everything and we just went from there,” says Pedro, a native of Portugal who came to this city several years ago with his wife, Christina. “It was very exciting for me to work in an old building with a contemporary approach as far as the design. When I saw the space, I knew it had a lot of potential.”
    The art of design intrigued him as a boy and led him first to architectural school and, later, to the establishment of his own studio and custom furniture business. Manuel Barreto Studio, at 430 Delaware Avenue, specializes in residential and commercial renovations.
    “We gutted everything … and reshaped the design,” he says of the condo project. “It’s very clean, elegant space now. I always use good materials and I try to create a language in the design.The walls are all white and I used black marble and gray glass. The floors are oak. There’s the same language on the materials that kind of tell you the story (of the space) and show you the path to different areas. At the same time, there’s a unity.”
    The finest quality materials are a must. So, too, is maximizing natural light. In condos, especially, Pedro’s unique designs instill a sense of openness so as to avoid the claustrophobic feel that sometimes grips smaller urban residences.
    “Even if the area is not big, it can seem bigger just by the design and how we do things,” he explains. Here, he installed modern lighting elements. The original windows were kept bare to reveal their simple beauty.
    “Whether I am designing a piece of furniture or a whole project like this, it’s always exciting,” he insists. “It gives you the opportunity to explore different things. And obviously, to see the client happy, that feels good.”

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