Hot Property: This Designer is Listing Her Custom French Provincial Home

Karolyn Spagnolo filled the white brick home in Shaler with luxurious touches — and even a secret doorway.
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When Pittsburgh-based interior designer Karolyn Spagnolo was building her 10th home back in 2004, she decided on a stately four-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bathroom that had all the amenities she needed for her family and her design business. 

She also thought it was going to be the last time she moved. 

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I’ve admired the handsome white brick, French Provincial-style home in Shaler for years. So when I saw a “For Sale” sign go up on it, I immediately reached out to Spagnolo. 

“I decided to build one more time,” she told me. “It’s my 11th build.” 

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A member of the American Society of Interior Designers, Spagnolo has been in the business for 25 years. She is well-known in the area for her work remodeling older homes, as well as her numerous appearances at the Pittsburgh Home & Garden Show. 

Her spectacular home at 109 Vilsack Road is listed for $613,000 (MLS #1500589, Jake Hayson, RE/MAX Real Estate Solutions,, 412/366-2900). It is open by appointment and can be toured virtually here. All of the home’s furniture also is available for sale. 

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Accessed by a long driveway that provides plenty of parking, the home sits back from the busy road and features a two-story entrance with classic details, including a brass lion’s head door knocker, arched windows and oversized door lanterns. Long drapes frame the iron railings in a classic “X” form. They are repeated on the windows.

There also is a side entrance to the Spagnolo’s design business, a private backyard and an oversized attached garage. 

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Inside, the home boasts 3,500 square feet of smartly designed living space. 

“The first floor is all open space,” Spagnolo says. “[There’s] 12-foot-high ceilings, open fireplaces, a first-floor master and laundry room.” 

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Located in the front of the home, the kitchen has double-stacked cabinets with glass-front upper display cabinets and stainless-steel appliances. The large kitchen island has Juparana Persa Granite. New lighting from designer Johnathan Adler hangs in several spaces throughout the home, including playful pendants above the kitchen island. 

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The dining area opens into the great room, where you get an eyeful of the staircase and a Pinterest-worthy gallery wall filled with more than 50 framed photos. 

A gas fireplace is flanked by custom millwork with grooved columns, and the walls have generous crown moulding. Recently, the entire home was repainted. 

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The luxurious first-floor primary bedroom has classic gold details. The attached bathroom includes a soaking tub for two, a separate shower and a generous vanity that includes a mirror encased in custom cherry millwork.  

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The downstairs powder room showcases Spagnolo’s design skills. It features a custom fabric treatment ceiling, an antique reproduction vanity and mirror and contemporary light fixtures. 

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The second floor has two bedrooms, plus a loft space used as an office. They are serviced by a single bathroom. 

Then there is the charming secret doorway. 

“The left bedroom has a doorway that is finished as a wall,” Spagnolo says. “It leads to my archival closet above the two-car garage. The electrical work is done and it has a huge window. It just has to be finished out.” 

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Speaking of the closet, it also is accessed through the garage. Items can be lifted to the second floor via a custom pulley system designed by Spagnolo’s father. 

“It saved us a ton of work with my business,” she says. 

Housed on the lower level, her design business was recently remodeled; it has hardwood floors with white walls, gray ceilings and black crown molding. 

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Downstairs is a second family room with a wine room that includes a built-in storage cabinet and bar, refrigeration and seating. 

There’s also a workout room and a full bathroom with an unusual tribute to the designer’s late brother. 

“The ceiling is filled with dimes,” she says. “When they called to tell me the personal effects my brother had on him, I was told, ‘Your brother had one single dime in his pocket.’” 

The statement stuck with her. 

“I started seeing dimes everywhere, as did my family,” she says. “We all started collecting them, and before you knew it, I decided to just fill the ceiling with them.” 

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For her next build, Spagnolo plans to tackle one-level living, but she’ll still miss the Vilsack Road house, which is located on one of the area’s main arteries.  

“I moved here because it was the perfect spot,” she says. “I loved sitting on the porch and watching the traffic go by. When you sit in the back, you don’t know you are sitting on a main road.” 

Drawing on her years of experience covering the region’s real estate industry, Rosa Colucci’s Hot Property offers an inside look into unique and historic homes currently on the market. Each week, Hot Property goes behind the For Sale sign to share the story of a special Pittsburgh-area home. And four times a year, Hot Property will give an in-depth look at the region’s real estate market in Pittsburgh Magazine HOME, tracking housing prices and sales and detailing where the hot properties can be found. Rosa can be reached at

About: Shaler Township (
Population: 29,000
Planes, Trains & Automobiles: Just a 10-minute commute to Downtown and a 35-minute commute to the airport. Daily transport via Port Authority. Some street parking.
Schools: Shaler School District ( The award-winning district services K-12 and features a healthy and rigorous academic program, sports program and STEAM education.     Neighborhoods: Shaler Township is a family-oriented community with several parks, including Kiwanis Park and Crawford Park, where the township maintains a pool for residents. There’s also an outstanding library system. Winding roads, mature trees and a healthy ecosystem make it a desirable place to live.

Categories: Hot Property