The “Little Purple Bungalow” Was There For Its Owner When She Needed It Most
It’s impossible to miss the purple-painted exterior and murals of the bungalow along Route 8 in Richland.
Sometimes a Hot Property isn’t one that’s torn from the pages of a magazine, but it’s the right house for the right time.
That’s the story of the “Little Purple Bungalow” north of Pittsburgh in Richland; the house at 6051 William Flinn Highway crossed paths with Sherri Spagnolli five years ago, when her life was in transition.
“I was going through a divorce,” she says. “I had two children aged 11 and 9 in the Pine- Richland School District and time was of the essence since it was a matter of months before school would start for them.”
To finance a new home, she was selling a beloved A-frame bungalow.
“It was filled with found materials from old homes in the city and wood beams from the former Nabisco Plant,” she says.
Spagnolli already was familiar with the Little Purple Bungalow because of its location near her children’s pediatrician. Seeing it was for sale, she decided to check it out.
“I walked through it. I caught this amazing vibe. I just felt peaceful in it,” she says. “It’s hard to describe; it was the same way I felt when I walked through my A-frame.”
She felt so strongly that she was meant to live there that she pulled back an offer she made on a different home and closed on the bungalow; she hasn’t looked back since.
The family is now moving to a larger home. The bungalow is listed for $139,900 (MLS#1616816, Tracy Harris, Berkshire Hathaway, The Preferred Realty). It is open by appointment.
After Spagnolli bought the 130-year-old, three-bedroom bungalow she learned a lot about the seller, whose life paralleled hers in many ways.
“She had two children aged 11 and 9 when she moved into the home and also left her A-frame, on Grubbs Road,” she says. “She also had to purchase her house quickly after a separation. That’s when she moved into the Purple House, but it wasn’t purple then; she painted it that color.”
After learning about the artsy nature of the former owner, who occupied the home for 25 years, Spagnolli says, “I realized that I didn’t pick the house, the house picked me.”
The home’s crafty nature goes beyond the purple exterior and onto the fence, which was painted freehand with a landscape and blue birds. The retaining wall also wears a mural.
“I painted “Make your Life Count” on the fence,” Spagnolli says. “I saw that in Belize. I named the house and painted that on the fence, too.”
Behind the fence is a vegetable garden and a perennial garden that blooms in three seasons.
“It is all out front as you walk up the steps from the garage from both sides — lilies, bee balm and Black-eyed Susans; hellebore,” Spagnolli says. “It is ever-blooming.”
Indoors is a practical mud room for coats and shoes; it also is outfitted with a convenient new laundry set-up. Plants, shelving and other decorative items give the space a warm, homey feeling.
Painted a sunny yellow, a sunporch stretches across the front of the home. A warm wood ceiling adds to the calm aura.
“It’s my favorite room in the whole house,” Spagnolli says. “In the winter when the sun comes up, it’s beautiful.”
Painted a charcoal gray, the living room has space for a sectional sofa. Adding a touch of cozy ambiance is a gas fireplace with a heavy timber mantle.
The colorful kitchen has deep green walls and white trim paired with gray wainscoting. A gallery wall is filled with photos of the family’s travels, including close-ups of food and children.
Spagnolli scored a nice banquette on the marketplace that proved the perfect size to add a diner-feel to the space. There also are white cabinets, stainless appliances and a ceramic tile floor.
The three bedrooms include a bedroom on the first floor. The second level includes another bedroom and a sitting room that Spagnolli transformed into a loft bedroom for herself.
“I sleep there because I wanted my kids to have their own bedrooms,” she says.
The back of the house has a pavilion that Spagnolli installed and wired with electricity herself. The fun space has grounded seating, hammocks and a table the family uses for outdoor dining as well as for game nights.
“I installed central air, a new roof, a 150-amp electrical box, a new hot water tank, new windows and, of course, the pavilion,” Spagnolli says of her handiwork. “Everything is done.”
The home has some quirky drawbacks that Spagnolli acknowledges, including a patchy concrete driveway.
“I can’t sugar coat the driveway — it is what it is,” she says. “But when you get to the house, there is a garage, so no snow to clean off the car.”
On the other hand, there are a whole lot of pluses in Spagnolli’s book.
“It is a small, affordable home in the Pine Richland School District,” she says. “Other homes in the district are much more expensive, and many are in the million dollar range.”
Currently, Spagnolli is traveling with her family in Alaska.
“This small home affords us the luxury to feed my bad case of wanderlust,” she says. “Living there with my salary, the bills are low, we can save money and travel.”
Admittedly, the home’s location on a busy highway is a little challenging, but Spagnolli calls it “such a happy place.” On her window is a sticker that says “No Negativity.”
“This house is not for everybody, I know that,” she says. “But I do think that this old house will do for another person what it did for me and the last owner; nurture and care for them as they move through a challenging time in their life.”
About: Richland (richland.pa.us)
Planes, Trains & Automobiles: A 40-minute commute to Pittsburgh International Airport. Street parking. Some public transportation.
Schools: Pine-Richland School District (pinerichland.org)
Neighborhood: Covering more than 14 square miles, Richland has six borders, including the townships of West Deer to the east, Hampton to the south and Pine to the west. The other three borders are with Butler County neighborhoods: Valencia to the northwest, Adams Township to the north and Middlesex Township to the northeast. The community has been growing steadily since 1990 primarily due to a new housing boom and the highly ranked school district.