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.”

Sign Up for the 412 e-Newsletter

 

Our new, daily e-newsletter is curated by the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine and is designed to give you the very best Pittsburgh has to offer -- delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign me up!
* Email
 First Name
 Last Name
  * = Required Field
 
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Best of the 'Burgh 2016

Best of the 'Burgh 2016

We scoured the region to bring you 53 items we’ve deemed this year’s “Best of the ’Burgh,” as well as 8 stellar local Instagram accounts you don’t want to miss.
See Yinz: PittGirl Says Goodbye

See Yinz: PittGirl Says Goodbye

After writing for seven years about the city for Pittsburgh Magazine and pittsburghmagazine.com, Virginia Montanez is discontinuing her blog and column.
Restaurant Review: Whitfield at Ace Hotel Pittsburgh

Restaurant Review: Whitfield at Ace Hotel Pittsburgh

The restaurant at Ace Hotel in East Liberty hits some high notes as it finds itself.
Pride of McKeesport: WNBA Star Swin Cash

Pride of McKeesport: WNBA Star Swin Cash

During her final season of professional basketball, Cash remains ferocious on the court and selfless everywhere else.
Idol Find: Pittsburgh Rapper Teams Up with Dad Jimmy McNichol for New Show

Idol Find: Pittsburgh Rapper Teams Up with Dad Jimmy McNichol for New Show

Research led Kellee Maize to discover she is the daughter of the former teen singing sensation. Now she and McNichol are teaming up to develop a television series to help other parents and children find each other.
Daytripping: Rating the Roller Coasters at Cedar Point

Daytripping: Rating the Roller Coasters at Cedar Point

One day, 18 roller coasters, four queasy stomachs, two cheeseburgers, one fried dough … whew.
Edit Module

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Pittsburgh's Union Trust Building Renovated and Restored

Pittsburgh's Union Trust Building Renovated and Restored

The historic Downtown building reopens after a two-year, $100 million renovation.

Comments


Pittsburgh, only cooler
PittGirl: How You Should Grade A Squishy Tongue

PittGirl: How You Should Grade A Squishy Tongue

Kennywood Park opens soon and new this season is the return of the famed whale at the entrance of Noah’s Ark. In the name of science, PittGirl paid an early visit to test the squishiness quotient of the whale's all-important tongue.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
James Beard Foundation Celebrity Chef Tour Stops In Pittsburgh

James Beard Foundation Celebrity Chef Tour Stops In Pittsburgh

Justin Severino and Hilary Prescott Severino of Cure and Morcilla organized the event, which featured celebrated chefs from DC, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
The Best 7 Spots in Pittsburgh to Watch the 2016 Euro Cup

The Best 7 Spots in Pittsburgh to Watch the 2016 Euro Cup

Grab your kits, scarfs and get ready to watch the Euro 2016 Pittsburgh-style. We'll show you where to go to get your fan on.

Comments


Beer Cults and Brick Ovens: An Evening at Fuel & Fuddle

Beer Cults and Brick Ovens: An Evening at Fuel & Fuddle

The restaurant and bar in Oakland welcomes college students and locals alike.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Perspective Accompanies Long-Awaited Second Crosby Cup

Perspective Accompanies Long-Awaited Second Crosby Cup

The Pittsburgh Penguins may be more poised to establish a dynasty in 2016 than they were in 2009.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Add a Bygone Beacon to Your Living Room

Add a Bygone Beacon to Your Living Room

Vintage signs can add a pop of personality to your decor.

Comments


Sean Collier's Popcorn for Dinner

The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
Demons, Orcs, Hipsters and More at the Multiplex

Demons, Orcs, Hipsters and More at the Multiplex

Reviews of "The Conjuring 2," "Warcraft," "Maggie's Plan," plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
True to Tradition: Incorporating Your Heritage at Your Wedding

True to Tradition: Incorporating Your Heritage at Your Wedding

Honoring tradition at weddings is important for many couples, whether that means including heirlooms and unique customs or hosting a full-blown second ceremony.

Comments


The latest tips and trends to refresh your home.
Decor Calling: Home Furnishings Go Mobile

Decor Calling: Home Furnishings Go Mobile

House15143 is Sewickley debuts “House Calls,” a mobile Airstream designed to bring the shopping experience to you (or an event near you).

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Summer Robotics Camp Offered to High-School Students

Summer Robotics Camp Offered to High-School Students

The camp is a collaboration between two area universities and is open to students entering grades 9-12.

Comments