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 TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Watch: The Terrible Towel and 45 Years of Steelers Nation

Perspectives from Franco Harris to Joe Manganiello.

Yinzers Eating Chicken Wings Are Going to Be on TV

Mt. Washington’s Bigham Tavern is the latest ‘Burgh eatery to host a film crew.

Madeline Bakery and Bistro to Open in Wilkinsburg

The French-inspired bakery will feature croissants, cookies, bread and more.

32 Years Celebrating Pittsburghers of the Year

As we honor the 2017 Pittsburghers of the year, take a look back at the previous honorees and their significant, unforgettable contributions to our city.

Wish a Steeler a Speedy Recovery in a Big Way

An oversized get-well-soon card for Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier is waiting for your signature Downtown.

Watch: Who is Faster on a Zamboni? Crosby or Malkin?

Sid and Geno love to compete, especially against each other. This time, the future Hall-of-Famers climbed aboard Zamboni machines for a race across a parking lot.

2017 Pittsburgher of the Year: Kelly Frey

No one would blame the veteran WTAE anchor if she took time off while undergoing intensive breast cancer treatment. Instead, she chose to use humor and grace to educate and inspire others, all while in the public eye.

Steelers Can't Ease Their Patriots Pain Until January

Much as they’d like to, the Steelers won’t be able to exorcise the ghosts of AFC Championship Games Past, even with a win on Sunday.

Green Medicine: The Business of Medical Marijuana

For many, medical marijuana is a panacea capable of alleviating a wide range of symptoms. As Pennsylvania begins allowing the drug’s medical use, patients are relieved — and business is booming.

Restaurant Review: Casbah Still is Rocking

More than 20 years into its run, Casbah remains one of Pittsburgh’s most relevant restaurants.