Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Home of the Year: Tuscan Dream

The 2013 Home of the Year winner in the New Construction category is a dream home in a dream location. Tuscan details abound inside and out, designed to remind the homeowners of an unforgettable trip to Italy.


Photos by Kristina Schmidt
 

"My wife and I honeymooned in Italy. We loved Tuscany and the architecture of the homes there — so a Tuscan-style house brought it all back to us,” says the homeowner, who resides in Pine Township’s Lake MacLeod neighborhood with his spouse and children. “Plus, [my wife and I] grew up in Erie, so having a home on a lake is perfect.”

Originally, this construction was going to be a spec house for builder Jeff Martin of Primrose Homes. But, Martin says, “before I could dig it, I sold it. As soon as the owners saw the plans, they knew this was the house for them.”



Martin had been working on the plans with architect Timothy J. Morgan, and both were excited about the prospect of building a home in a style rarely seen in Pittsburgh. The region’s challenging landscape first inspired the pair to choose a Tuscan design.

“The home’s site is very challenging and hilly. It’s a steep grade change from the street to the lake at the rear of the home,” Morgan says. “Our original thought was to build a contemporary house, but then we thought a Tuscan style would be a natural fit because of the similar terrain in Tuscany.”

The spot is also compact, with narrow lake frontage, adding to the challenge. But, Martin says, “I like designing to fit topography, to embrace it rather than fight it. So, instead of spreading out horizontally, we went up vertically.” The result is a four-story abode.



“While it’s a home of generous size, it doesn’t feel that way because everything is stacked up instead of spread out,” the owner says. “So you have the coziness of being next to the family — which is great when you have three small kids.”

Tuscan details abound inside and out. In addition to the warm exterior cream-color palette, there’s a Spanish tile roof, generous use of stucco and stone, exposed wood beams, iron railings, 5-inch-wide solid maple plank flooring, chimney caps, and brackets on the eaves. Perhaps the most striking architectural details are the doorways. Each is arched, and there are even arcs in certain wall spaces, which the homeowners plan to eventually highlight with complementary art.



Martin and Morgan note that the doorway design is just one of the home’s many rare characteristics. The place features a two-story garage — each level designed for two cars, with the top level entered from the front and the lower level entered from the rear — and is certified to the 2009 National Association of Home Builders Green Building Standard at the Gold Level (Martin is a Certified Green Professional homebuilder). Because the home has four levels, it’s equipped with an elevator that stops on each floor — though the owner admits it’s hardly used.

Every level serves a unique purpose and has its own feel. Guests arrive on the main floor, pulling up to a portico that grabs attention when spotted from a distance.

“[It] gives an inviting transition from the outdoors to the indoors, and it’s fairly unusual in Pittsburgh,” says Morgan.



Just inside the front entry is one of the home’s three marble inlays, designed with the wife’s help.

“The inlays are a throwback to some of the things we saw on our travels in Italy,” says the homeowner. “They add color and drama, and help break up the pattern of the tile.” The hallway also features one of two Schonbek crystal chandeliers.

The center of the home is highlighted by a distinctive “octagonal rotunda, which runs through all four levels [and] is really the backbone of the plan,” Morgan explains. “Everything radiates off that center of that octagon; it’s used as a circulation space, but also for orientation. You can see it from almost every room, so you always know where you are.”



The main floor also features a great room, study and kitchen.

“My wife had a clear vision of [her kitchen],” the homeowner notes. “She wanted a particular look and locked in on what she wanted — from the antique white painted and glazed cabinets, the color highlights and cabinets all the way to the ceiling.”

Actually, interior designer Andrea Sulia says the kitchen is a perfect example of the wife’s design sensibility. She says it’s “the most detailed kitchen design I’ve ever worked on.” The homeowner was especially impressed by the custom cabinetry, built by Heart of the Home Designs.



The kids’ bedrooms are located above the main level. Here, the owners asked Martin and Morgan to make the home larger, growing it from a four bedrooms to six (approximately 8,000 square feet total).

The top floor is the master suite, which, says Sulia, “is almost like its own little apartment.” In addition to the master bedroom, the suite includes a lounge with entertainment center and kitchen — including a full-sized refrigerator, microwave and sink — and an opulent, spacious master bath, with heated floors, a round Jacuzzi tub and shower.



This floor also contains two outdoor living areas; one is an open-air balcony, and the other is a covered loggia, with tile floor, stone fireplace and a spectacular view of the lake — easily the husband’s favorite spot in the home.

“To be able to just stand there after a hard day’s work and look out over the water is very relaxing,” he says. “All you hear is the sound of the lake, the ducks and the geese. Being there just takes the tension of the day away.”

Maximizing views of the lake was a primary consideration for the home, according to Morgan, so he designed all the main family living spaces to face the rear.



Stylistically, the lowest level — which has a home theater, play area and bar — is a significant departure from the rest of the home.

“This is where [the husband’s] style really shines through in the home,” says Sulia. “We used cooler colors. It really contrasts and jumps out at you when you walk down because you aren’t expecting to see that look.”



This oddest feature here is the bar placement.

“[It’s] an octagon shape and it was the couple’s idea,” says Martin. You won’t see another one like it.”

Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

Highmark Stadium Struggles To Accommodate Music Fans

The Station Square venue could be a good place to see a concert. It's not there yet.

CMU Launches America’s First Degree in Artificial Intelligence

Starting this fall, undergraduates at Carnegie Mellon will have the option to earn a degree in one of the world’s fastest growing fields.

Hog Wild at Fallen Aspen Farm

Owners Jake Kristophel and Desiree Sirois are committed to compassionate animal husbandry at Fallen Aspen Farm.

This is Where ‘Pittsburgh's Paul Bunyan’ Would Have Lived

The living emblem of Pittsburgh steelwork, immortalized in a Braddock statue, has been reborn with a titular space in Bloomfield.

She's Helping Immigrants Make Pittsburgh their Home

An immigrant herself, Ellen Freeman is dedicated to making Pittsburgh more welcoming for foreign nationals.

Steel City Metal: Code Orange Comes Home

Recent Grammy nominees Code Orange bring a working-class attitude to heavy metal.

MultiStories: Gilded Glory – The Keenan Building

The first skyscraper on Liberty Avenue had 17 floors plus a top floor that was the subject of risqué rumors.

Here We Go? Steelers Have More Than a New England Issue This Time

At this time last year the Steelers perceived themselves, and rightfully so, as a team that was a mere win over the Patriots away from returning to the Super Bowl. This year, the focus is elsewhere.

Lorelei Will Open in the Former Livermore/Pines Space

The owners of Independent Brewing Company and Hidden Harbor plan to bring a beer hall and cafe to East Liberty.

New Venue Added to Pittsburgh's Cinema in the Park Series

See what's playing this summer in a Pittsburgh park near you.

The 400-Word Review: Solo: A Star Wars Story

The Star Wars series experiments with telling an origin story, with mixed results.

What's a ‘Spark’ and Why Should Pittsburghers Care?

Sparks are relatively young — the concept for them first popped up in San Francisco in 2005. They’ve just recently appeared in other U.S. cities, including our neighbors on the other side of the state.

Third Place on 'American Idol,' First Place in the Steel City

Munhall high school student Gabby Barrett finished in third place last night on ABC’s reboot of “American Idol.”

From Milan to Pittsburgh: These are the Kitchen Concepts of the Future

Local interior designer Lauren Levant traveled to Italy for the influential Salon del Mobile show featuring the latest innovations in the furniture and design industry. With an emphasis on quality over quantity, these are the kitchen concepts she says will be making their way stateside.

Wine Classes Keep the Pre-Wedding Celebration Classy

Palate Partners School of Wine & Spirits offers a chance for brides- and grooms-to-be to explore libations before (or instead of) a night on the town.
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags


CMU Launches America’s First Degree in Artificial Intelligence

CMU Launches America’s First Degree in Artificial Intelligence

Starting this fall, undergraduates at Carnegie Mellon will have the option to earn a degree in one of the world’s fastest growing fields.

Comments

New Venue Added to Pittsburgh's Cinema in the Park Series

New Venue Added to Pittsburgh's Cinema in the Park Series

See what's playing this summer in a Pittsburgh park near you.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Lorelei Will Open in the Former Livermore/Pines Space

Lorelei Will Open in the Former Livermore/Pines Space

The owners of Independent Brewing Company and Hidden Harbor plan to bring a beer hall and cafe to East Liberty.

Comments

An Inclusive Community Breaks the Ramadan Fast at Salem's Market & Grill

An Inclusive Community Breaks the Ramadan Fast at Salem's Market & Grill

The Strip District restaurant draws a diverse community to its nightly ifṭār buffet.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Best Places to Introduce Children to the Performing Arts

Best Places to Introduce Children to the Performing Arts

When you see a show at one of these organizations, you may enjoy it as much as the children.

Comments

The 4 Best Sports to Try This Spring in Pittsburgh

The 4 Best Sports to Try This Spring in Pittsburgh

Looking to switch up your physical activity now that it finally feels like spring? We found four sports you can play locally that you may never have considered.

Comments


Highmark Stadium Struggles To Accommodate Music Fans

Highmark Stadium Struggles To Accommodate Music Fans

The Station Square venue could be a good place to see a concert. It's not there yet.

Comments

Take a Tricky Trip To Mars at Escape Room 51

Take a Tricky Trip To Mars at Escape Room 51

The new escape room in Pleasant Hills is a great game for newer players.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Here We Go? Steelers Have More Than a New England Issue This Time

Here We Go? Steelers Have More Than a New England Issue This Time

At this time last year the Steelers perceived themselves, and rightfully so, as a team that was a mere win over the Patriots away from returning to the Super Bowl. This year, the focus is elsewhere.

Comments

Surprising Pirates Proving to be an Acquired Taste This Season

Surprising Pirates Proving to be an Acquired Taste This Season

For the time being, at least, fans continue to send owner Bob Nutting a message wrapped in apathy.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
The 400-Word Review: Solo: A Star Wars Story

The 400-Word Review: Solo: A Star Wars Story

The Star Wars series experiments with telling an origin story, with mixed results.

Comments

The 400-Word Review: Pope Francis: A Man of His Word

The 400-Word Review: Pope Francis: A Man of His Word

The careful documentary is a valuable document of the pontiff's philosophy. As a film, there are issues.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Wine Classes Keep the Pre-Wedding Celebration Classy

Wine Classes Keep the Pre-Wedding Celebration Classy

Palate Partners School of Wine & Spirits offers a chance for brides- and grooms-to-be to explore libations before (or instead of) a night on the town.

Comments

He Recovers from Stroke to Officiate Granddaughter's Wedding

He Recovers from Stroke to Officiate Granddaughter's Wedding

It was always Ashley Watkins’ dream to have her grandfather perform her wedding ceremony — but a serious illness almost got in the way.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
From Milan to Pittsburgh: These are the Kitchen Concepts of the Future

From Milan to Pittsburgh: These are the Kitchen Concepts of the Future

Local interior designer Lauren Levant traveled to Italy for the influential Salon del Mobile show featuring the latest innovations in the furniture and design industry. With an emphasis on quality over quantity, these are the kitchen concepts she says will be making their way stateside.

Comments

Get Creative: Pittsburgh Podcast Inspires 'Girl Bosses'

Get Creative: Pittsburgh Podcast Inspires 'Girl Bosses'

Thinking about starting a creative business but don't know where to start? From photography to interior design, Gamechangers, the new podcast from local textile designer Savannah Hayes, gives a behind-the-scenes look at the design industry from the female perspective.

Comments