One Great Room

This first-floor transformation from cramped kitchen and dining space to airy great room began with the demolition of a central wall.



Photo by Denmarsh Photography

Jan McCollum thought for decades about taking down the wall separating her small kitchen from her dining room and family room. “I felt like I was in prison with that wall there,” she says, laughing. “Forever I kept looking at that wall and saying, ‘Someday….’”

But McCollum knew it was a support wall and assumed that removing it would be, if not impossible, then at least awfully complicated. So she tolerated it. Last year, though, something changed: After more than 40 years in this house perched atop Mount Washington, McCollum says, “I finally said ‘I’m not getting any younger. I want that wall down.’”

OLD HOME, TOTALLY NEW FEEL

Sometimes a single change can make all the difference. McCollum hired Desmone & Associates Architects to remove the wall, creating one sprawling space that serves as kitchen, dining area and family room.

She was thrilled: While standing at her cooktop range, she can now see the entire, stunning view of downtown through her family-room window. She can interact with family and guests while making dinner. And that decades-long feeling of being cooped up in a tiny space is gone.

“It’s very different now,” McCollum says. “It feels like a whole new home, and yet, I didn’t have to pack up all my dishes and glasses.”
In addition to removing the wall, the designers introduced a unified scheme for the entire space. “They used three main colors,” McCollum says, “the greenish gray, the amber and the red-orange.” This coordinated palette visually connects the three areas, yet they retain the feeling of distinct spaces.

The locations of the dining-room and family-room furniture were swapped, effectively moving those two rooms. Older pieces of art and furniture took on new life in the freshly redesigned space, so McCollum only needed to add a few new pieces—a sofa and dining table. The support columns that had been inside the wall were covered to match the new décor. And the old spiral staircase, formerly with white railings, was painted a warm red-orange.

SUBTLE DETAILS, DRAMATIC IMPACT

McCollum loves the new shimmering glass tiles, glass shelves and cabinets built around the bar in the dining area. “Before, I had a TV armoire instead of shelves, so it was closed,” she explains. “That was all taken out, and new cabinets were put in at the bottom, some with glass fronts.” This open display area echoes the openness of the entire space.

A few key changes were made to the kitchen: One countertop is now longer, and the oven was moved. Tiny downsides (slightly less space for kitchen cabinets) are balanced by big upsides (the brick floor was covered by corkwood with a heating element underneath, so the floor is warm all winter).

Also, the white kitchen cabinets were replaced with dark ones. “I’m glad my husband doesn’t remember that they were dark first,” McCollum says. “We made them white years ago, and now I’ve changed them back again.”

The redesign has given McCollum a living space she thoroughly enjoys. “I love the colors and the openness,” she says. “After 40-some years, you need a change.” It’s a treat, she tells us, when that change can combine a thoroughly new appearance with the history and familiarity of a beloved family home. 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

A History of Pittsburgh, in 50 Artifacts

A History of Pittsburgh, in 50 Artifacts

For a city only two centuries old, Pittsburgh has amassed a surprising amount of history. To assemble this collection of 50 of the region’s most fascinating historical artifacts, we hunted through museums, archives and private collections. We also looked for things many of us might pass each day without appreciating their significance.
The Origins of Isaly’s: It's Not What You Think

The Origins of Isaly’s: It's Not What You Think

Tracing the story of the chain back to its roots — which, surprisingly, are not in Pittsburgh.
In the Frame: Julie Sokolow Sees the Future

In the Frame: Julie Sokolow Sees the Future

After making films focused on Pittsburgh, Sokolow is rising through the ranks of U.S. women documentarians.
Restaurant Review: Salem's Market & Grill in the Strip District

Restaurant Review: Salem's Market & Grill in the Strip District

Salem’s offers accessible and delicious meals for Pittsburghers of all stripes.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

Mike Feinberg Company Says Goodbye to Pittsburgh

Mike Feinberg Company Says Goodbye to Pittsburgh

After 60 years of supplying Pittsburgh oddities and party favors, the staff of Feinberg’s in the Strip District says they’ll miss the love the city has shown them.
Friday Night Sleep Out to Raise Money for Homeless

Friday Night Sleep Out to Raise Money for Homeless

If you’re on the hunt for Friday night plans with a purpose, consider sleeping outside to benefit those in Pittsburgh who have to spend every night on the streets.
The Fascinating History of the David McCullough Bridge

The Fascinating History of the David McCullough Bridge

More than 80 years after its demise was erroneously reported, the David McCullough Bridge still stands as an engineering and architectural highlight among the city’s many spans.
Gone Viral: Duquesne Students Score Big With Rat Slapshot

Gone Viral: Duquesne Students Score Big With Rat Slapshot

Their tic-tac-toe passing would impress Mike Sullivan.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

A History of Pittsburgh, in 50 Artifacts

A History of Pittsburgh, in 50 Artifacts

For a city only two centuries old, Pittsburgh has amassed a surprising amount of history. To assemble this collection of 50 of the region’s most fascinating historical artifacts, we hunted through museums, archives and private collections. We also looked for things many of us might pass each day without appreciating their significance.
The Origins of Isaly’s: It's Not What You Think

The Origins of Isaly’s: It's Not What You Think

Tracing the story of the chain back to its roots — which, surprisingly, are not in Pittsburgh.
In the Frame: Julie Sokolow Sees the Future

In the Frame: Julie Sokolow Sees the Future

After making films focused on Pittsburgh, Sokolow is rising through the ranks of U.S. women documentarians.
Restaurant Review: Salem's Market & Grill in the Strip District

Restaurant Review: Salem's Market & Grill in the Strip District

Salem’s offers accessible and delicious meals for Pittsburghers of all stripes.
Pittsburgh Penguins Share Tips for Parenting on Ice

Pittsburgh Penguins Share Tips for Parenting on Ice

In a year when youth-hockey participation is expected to increase, Pittsburgh Penguins players weigh in on the role of the hockey parent.
Face the Frost: Go Daytripping on Winter Hikes in Pittsburgh

Face the Frost: Go Daytripping on Winter Hikes in Pittsburgh

There’s a magical, snowy landscape right in your backyard.
Edit Module
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Mike Feinberg Company Says Goodbye to Pittsburgh

Mike Feinberg Company Says Goodbye to Pittsburgh

After 60 years of supplying Pittsburgh oddities and party favors, the staff of Feinberg’s in the Strip District says they’ll miss the love the city has shown them.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
CSA Day Reminds Pittsburghers (and Beyond) To Support Local Farms

CSA Day Reminds Pittsburghers (and Beyond) To Support Local Farms

It's the third year running for the concept, which was created by Simon Huntley of Pittsburgh's Small Farm Central.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Five Inexpensive But Memorable Date Spots in Pittsburgh

Five Inexpensive But Memorable Date Spots in Pittsburgh

These spots are tailored for couples who are looking for a simple, chill night out on Valentine’s Day (or any other day). If your significant other isn’t the type to be wooed by expensive wines and chocolates, this is the list for you.

Comments


Adventure Bingo Returns at the Ace Hotel

Adventure Bingo Returns at the Ace Hotel

The one-of-a-kind night of bingo, trivia and madcap monologues returns in a new spot.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Dave Hanson and the Enduring Legacy of Slap Shot

Dave Hanson and the Enduring Legacy of Slap Shot

The Hanson Brothers and other stars of the classic hockey film will return to Johnstown this weekend for a 40th anniversary celebration.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Chalk It Up

Chalk It Up

Doodle while you dine, or let your imagination run wild, with chalkboard placemats from Pittsburgh-based Chalk Lots.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
Our Full 2017 Oscar Predictions (Wherein La La Land Wins Everything)

Our Full 2017 Oscar Predictions (Wherein La La Land Wins Everything)

Breaking down what we know and only think we know about the 2017 Academy Awards.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Our Favorite Unique Centerpiece (That’s Not Flowers)

Our Favorite Unique Centerpiece (That’s Not Flowers)

This couple’s centerpiece from our Real Pittsburgh Weddings shines brighter than the traditional table bouquet.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
The Candle Lab Ready To Make Its Debut in Lawrenceville

The Candle Lab Ready To Make Its Debut in Lawrenceville

The Columbus-based store, where you can customize your own candle fragrance, is expected to open in March.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Get a Behind-the-Scenes Look at ‘Fences’

Get a Behind-the-Scenes Look at ‘Fences’

An art director from Warner Bros. Studios will visit La Roche College to talk about the Oscar-nominated film with ties to Pittsburgh.

Comments