Other parts of New York State, such as Westchester County, have hundreds of million-dollar homes to choose from.
In Rochester last year there were only 15 homes that sold and recorded over $1 million in the multiple listing network (MLS) system.
But compared to other metro areas, million-dollar homes here tend to be far grander.
Ed and Molly Shill’s Pittsford home now on the market takes grand to the next level with customization, detailed finishes and luxury features that, says RE/Max Realtor Amy Petrone, “would be three times the cost in a larger city.”
The home is listed for $1.1 million.
Built in 1997 by Longwell Builders, the Shills’ home had good builder bones, but the Shills and designer Tom Johnson (along with Hamilton | Stern Construction) turned those basics into a spectacular 6,875-square foot home with a striking presence.
Get Out in Front
The Shills loved the house because of its location, at the end of a cul de sac on 1.7 acres not far from Powder Mill Park.
“Yet it didn’t feel private, with its open front yard,” Molly says.
Johnson did several things that changed the way the home addressed the street and ultimately informed the interior: he created a portico with Georgian-style columns and bluestone pavers; bumped out the dining room, which is to the left of the front entry, and added a bluestone patio and gas firepit to the right of the entry.
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He also developed an extensive landscape design for the front yard that includes a rose of Sharon hedgerow and somewhat formal boxwood hedges. These are softened by whimsical bushes and plants that attract butterflies and birds. London Plane trees and pea stone pebble pathways further define the front.
This new design meant the house commanded its location; it became an impressive and private estate.
“The design allowed us to have privacy, and we sit out here all the time,” says Molly who admits she is sad to leave. (The couple is downsizing and moving to a home on Canandaigua Lake.)
It can be hard to pinpoint exactly why some houses feel comfortable — just right — from the very first peek inside.
But, as Johnson says, “a house tells you what it wants.”
With the house’s directive, his clients’ needs, and his design instincts, Johnson made interior choices that created a cohesive, warm, and inviting home with lots of natural light and unique custom touches.
For example, the newly enlarged dining room includes three, nearly floor-to-ceiling windows that flood the room with light. But instead of a traditional white tray ceiling, reclaimed wood garners a portion of the ceiling.
The wood is part of a campaign that creates a fine balance throughout the home and includes the kitchen ceiling, the stair banister, the family room, dark stained oak floors, and a magnificent third-floor finished bonus area.
The kitchen is for cooks and entertainers, home to custom cabinetry, a fireplace, Viking appliances, a Subzero refrigerator, and a 14-foot teak island and soapstone countertops.
“And, no, they aren’t hard to maintain,” Molly says.
The couple also made the choice to go without upper cabinets. This means walls of windows overlooking the tree-filled backyard landscape. And rather than break site lines with a large drop-down range hood, Johnson specified a high-powered vent embedded in the ceiling.
Molly says that after the remodel (done in 2006), she and Ed spent way more time entertaining and just hanging out in the kitchen.
“We make a fire in the fireplace every morning, sometimes even in summer for the ambiance,” she says.
The second floor holds five generous bedrooms and three large bathrooms.
To gain room for a closet, they broke through a crawl space above the primary bedroom and discovered a third-floor attic roomy enough for ballroom dancing — or as Molly, owner of Branch Acupuncture Center, used it, as a yoga and meditation studio, complete with a sauna.
Ed, CEO and president of QCI Asset Management, had his own respite on the lower level: a cigar room and wine cellar.
“It’s designed with a ventilation system that brings in fresh air from the outside and exhausts air out of the room. You can smoke cigars in there and not have any smoke,” Ed says.
Imagine an old-time club room with dark wood walls, a large-screen television and comfortable chairs set against the backdrop of a temperature-controlled glassed-enclosed wine cellar accessed only by a facial recognition system. There’s also a locked gun safe. The rest of the lower level includes a rec room and home gym.
Behind the house, an ipe deck and bluestone patio offer a great spot to enjoy a quiet afternoon.
“When the leaves are down there’s a beautiful view of the city,” Molly says.