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

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in December

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in December

This month's best bets in The 'Burgh.
50+ Things That Will Make You Enjoy Winter in Pittsburgh

50+ Things That Will Make You Enjoy Winter in Pittsburgh

Love it or hate it, winter is upon us. Because some of us may think there's a lot not to like, we bring you 50+ things to eat, drink and do –– and some helpful tips –– that'll keep the blues at bay.
Excellence in Nursing: Meet Our 2016 Honorees

Excellence in Nursing: Meet Our 2016 Honorees

Pittsburgh Magazine presents the honorees from its inaugural Excellence in Nursing awards. Meet our judges' choices and learn what makes them remarkable in their field.
Choreographed Style: Winter Fashion with The Pittsburgh Ballet

Choreographed Style: Winter Fashion with The Pittsburgh Ballet

A regal ruggedness characterizes the season's menswear looks.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

The Mosaic Stairway: You've Never Seen Steps Like These

The Mosaic Stairway: You've Never Seen Steps Like These

When viewed from the foot of the South Side Slopes of Pittsburgh, the stairs ascending Josephine Street form a massive image that consists of more than 7,500 individual mosaic tiles.
Joe Manganiello Plays the Good Guy for Children’s Hospital

Joe Manganiello Plays the Good Guy for Children’s Hospital

The actor, director and Mt. Lebanon native is joining the board of trustees of the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation.
Pittsburgh Man Sets World Record By Lifting 1 Million Pounds

Pittsburgh Man Sets World Record By Lifting 1 Million Pounds

Matt Scoletti accomplishes the feat in just under nine hours.
Why Thanksgiving Comes Every Day for 3 Pittsburgh-Area Men

Why Thanksgiving Comes Every Day for 3 Pittsburgh-Area Men

They owe their lives to one man who lives on in each of them.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in December

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in December

This month's best bets in The 'Burgh.
50+ Things That Will Make You Enjoy Winter in Pittsburgh

50+ Things That Will Make You Enjoy Winter in Pittsburgh

Love it or hate it, winter is upon us. Because some of us may think there's a lot not to like, we bring you 50+ things to eat, drink and do –– and some helpful tips –– that'll keep the blues at bay.
Excellence in Nursing: Meet Our 2016 Honorees

Excellence in Nursing: Meet Our 2016 Honorees

Pittsburgh Magazine presents the honorees from its inaugural Excellence in Nursing awards. Meet our judges' choices and learn what makes them remarkable in their field.
Choreographed Style: Winter Fashion with The Pittsburgh Ballet

Choreographed Style: Winter Fashion with The Pittsburgh Ballet

A regal ruggedness characterizes the season's menswear looks.
Restaurant Review: B52 in Lawrenceville is a Levantine Lifter

Restaurant Review: B52 in Lawrenceville is a Levantine Lifter

Omar Abuhejleh taps deep into his roots at his vegan cafe that's focused on Levantine cuisine.
Why You Can't Beat The Weather in Pittsburgh in The Winter

Why You Can't Beat The Weather in Pittsburgh in The Winter

I’ve traveled a lot of miles, and I still stare in bewilderment at people who tell me they’ve moved to a place because “You can’t beat the weather.”
Edit Module
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


The Mosaic Stairway: You've Never Seen Steps Like These

The Mosaic Stairway: You've Never Seen Steps Like These

When viewed from the foot of the South Side Slopes of Pittsburgh, the stairs ascending Josephine Street form a massive image that consists of more than 7,500 individual mosaic tiles.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
The Café Carnegie Now Open in Oakland

The Café Carnegie Now Open in Oakland

Chefs Sonja Finn and Becca Hegarty helm the refurbished restaurant at the Carnegie Museums.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Best of the Burgh: Pumpkin Patches in the Pittsburgh Area

Best of the Burgh: Pumpkin Patches in the Pittsburgh Area

We’ve compiled the best pumpkin patches for fall family fun.

Comments


Why Wait For Summer? Head to Kennywood's Holiday Lights

Why Wait For Summer? Head to Kennywood's Holiday Lights

The park's winter celebration is great for families and a fine choice for anyone who loves Christmas (and/or funnel cake).

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Big Ten-Champion Nittany Lions More Worthy Than Buckeyes

Big Ten-Champion Nittany Lions More Worthy Than Buckeyes

For some reason Ohio State is ranked No. 2 in the latest playoff rankings and Penn State is No. 7. That has to change if Penn State beats Wisconsin on Saturday night.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Locket Full of Joy

Locket Full of Joy

The handcrafted piece opens to hidden treasures.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
Ten Upcoming Flicks Every Oscar-Watcher Should See

Ten Upcoming Flicks Every Oscar-Watcher Should See

PM film critic Sean Collier picks ten forthcoming flicks likely to rake in nominations for the 89th Academy Awards.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Thinking Small: Pittsburgh Weddings That Are Intimate Affairs

Thinking Small: Pittsburgh Weddings That Are Intimate Affairs

Bigger isn’t always better, at least when it comes to these couples’ wedding ceremonies.

Comments


The latest tips and trends to refresh your home.
Seasonal Shopping: CMOA Store Holiday House, J.Crew Mercantile Opens Doors

Seasonal Shopping: CMOA Store Holiday House, J.Crew Mercantile Opens Doors

The Carnegie Museum of Art is full of Christmas cheer — and great deals. Plus, get the scoop on The Block Northway’s latest retail offering.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Classic Christmas Tale Gets a Twist at Slippery Rock University

Classic Christmas Tale Gets a Twist at Slippery Rock University

An adapted version of “A Christmas Carol” will be presented during a seven-show run.

Comments