Kitchen Classic

Warm touches cook up a savvy kitchen with plenty of space to socialize.



A window seat faces the back yard and provides extra seating for guests.

Photos by Laura Petrilla

Diane and Mike Elias love entertaining during the holidays. For years, friends and family gathered in their home to celebrate, while feasting on Mike’s cooking and Diane’s baking.

But there was always one big problem: Their beloved house, bought in 1989, had a tiny kitchen.

Diane and Mike would literally bump into each other while preparing large meals. They were constantly walking to the downstairs storage space, where they kept extra serving dishes and a roaster for meats that wouldn’t fit into their small oven. What was most frustrating was that there wasn’t enough room for holiday guests to be with them while they were cooking.

The Eliases considered selling their home, located in the Haler Heights section of McKeesport. But nothing on the market offered a kitchen that was special enough to justify giving up their large, leafy back yard and quiet cul-de-sac location.
So, they decided to remodel their current kitchen to create the perfect cooking and socializing space. Working with designers from Patete Kitchen & Bath Design Center, the Eliases decided to knock down the wall separating the kitchen and dinette space.

Two rooms are now one. “It feels like we have seven times the space,” Diane says.

Perfect for Parties

The new room, finished in early September, was tailor-made for holiday cooking. A single 20-inch oven was replaced by two 30-inch ovens. And deep, floor-to-ceiling cabinets offer storage space for everything—even the holiday serving dishes and crystal glassware that used to be stashed elsewhere in the house.

The Eliases are excited about using those items this holiday season. When everything is close at hand, Diane says, “you use it because you can see it, and you don’t have to walk a mile to get it.”

Her favorite cabinets are two corner units with beveled-glass doors. “They bring together a kitchen look and a dining-room look,” she says. And the units are perfect for displaying favorite pieces, including a tiered cake tray and glass truffle bowl.

Another favorite feature: One corner of the kitchen is a dedicated baking area for Diane. Under-cabinet lighting illuminates her countertop baking space, located next to the ovens. And the shelves above are filled with her baking equipment.

Gathering with Guests

Diane also asked Patete’s designers to add a window seat, which isn’t something they normally build into kitchens. She wanted to take advantage of the back-yard view and have extra seating for guests.

With the dinette wall eliminated, the kitchen now flows directly into the living room, furthering that connection with visitors during a party.

To enhance the atmosphere, every light in the kitchen is now on a dimmer. Bright light for heavy-duty cooking can be softened gradually as the party gets going.

To add even more warmth, a large Tiffany-style lamp is suspended over the granite-topped kitchen table. It doesn’t add much brightness, Diane notes, but it casts an inviting glow. “I can’t wait to put it on in the afternoons,” she says. “You just want to come and sit in here.”

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Pittsburgh's Top 10 Things to Do in March

Pittsburgh's Top 10 Things to Do in March

Your 10 best bets for this month.
Jamie Dixon: Winning His Way

Jamie Dixon: Winning His Way

Peers, players, and regular observers know him to be one of the best coaches — and people — in college basketball.
15 Buzzworthy Pittsburgh Salons

15 Buzzworthy Pittsburgh Salons

From east to west — and north and south — these are the region’s salons and services that make our cut. Having a good hair day doesn’t have to be so difficult after all.
Home of the Year: 2015

Home of the Year: 2015

This year’s selections include a Richland Township house built to appreciate its 160-acre lot and Shadyside garage that was renovated into a stunning, modern dream home.
Preserving August Wilson's Voice

Preserving August Wilson's Voice

Todd Kreidler, who helped to conceive the Pulitzer-Prize-winning playwright’s final written work, returns to Pittsburgh to direct that play, continuing his mission to keep the master’s words alive.
Review: Tender Bar + Kitchen

Review: Tender Bar + Kitchen

Lawrenceville hot spot Tender, once favored primarily for its libations, now is known as well for its culinary offerings.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module