The Mirror House is For Sale — Could You See Yourself Living Here?
Artist Martin Prekop spent years turning the one-of-a-kind O’Hara home into a living art installation.
Nicknamed “The Mirror House” due to its unusual mirror-clad exterior, 897 Field Club Road in O’Hara was a simple split-level ranch when artist Martin Prekop and his late wife, Martha, bought it in 1994.
It’s not that way anymore.
Over the years, Prekop, a former dean at Carnegie Mellon University’s College of Fine Arts, has dramatically transformed the home, which has earned him fans and detractors. To him, the striking property is a living art installation — one that is finally complete.
Prekop and his wife, Jesha Chen, are moving to upstate New York to enjoy a new grandson; they also will be spending time at their home in Taiwan.
They’ve listed the three-bedroom, 3 ½-bathroom Mirror House for $899,000 (MLS# 1601676, Linda DiBucci, Piatt Sotheby’s International Realty, 412-850-5404, sothebysrealty.com). It is open by appointment.
An artist whose work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, Prekop taught photography and painting at Carnegie Mellon for many years. When it came to his own home, however, the artistry was born out of a simple desire for more beauty.
“The dark brick, pink-and-green exterior was ugly, and inside, it was a mess,” Prekop says. “But it did have a big and beautiful garage that I envisioned as a place to put my workshop.”
He began by cladding the exterior in mirrors, an extension of the work he had done with mirrors and cabinetry when he worked in Chicago.
“Eventually, I decided to cover the entire house with mirrors, every brick,” he says. “Many thousands of mirrors were hand-cut to size, 2 inches by 8 inches. That took 10 or so summers to complete.”
During the other seasons, he worked on the home’s interior, installing 22 skylights and several additions, as well as rooms focused on music, art and entertaining. He even added a gallery that could host private exhibitions of other artists’ work besides his own.
“My photography practice is focused almost exclusively on projects of the house and around the house, in the backyard,” he says.
Entitled “House,” the exhibition containing more than 300 photographs of the property was shown at The Miller Gallery at CMU, where it was well-received.
“I toured that exhibition to the Kohler Arts Center in Wisconsin,” Prekop adds.
Today, the former split-level ranch encompasses five levels of living space spread over 4,300 square feet; there’s also a spectacular outdoor space with a kitchen.
The interior’s contemporary, black-and-white palette is interspaced with bright pops of color. Most of the handcrafted furnishings, cabinets and bookcases, all made by Prekop, are included in the sale.
One of the standouts is the dining room table set, which is based on a design Prekop created for Carnegie Mellon’s Zebra Lounge more than 20 years ago. Hand painted with black and white stripes, the same treatment was applied to the eclectic primary bathroom’s walls, shelves and counters.
“It is painted freehand with black and white acrylic and follows the grain of the wood,” Prekop says. “It uses the organic nature of the plywood to give expression to itself.”
The gourmet kitchen features a precisely mounted German-rail system alongside commercial-grade ovens, appliances and refrigeration. The center island also was custom made for the space, as was the mahogany table and chairs in the adjacent room.
“It is all meant to be used,” Prekop says. “It is very practical. You can always find the right kind of slicer, beater, whatever you want.”
On the rear of the house is a red-hued addition finished with steel siding.
“I built it as an art gallery and studio,” Prekop says. “I showed three or four artists in a gallery. I use it as a staging platform for my own work.”
The house also has plenty of room for entertaining, including a theater viewing room and a music listening room.
“We had 100 people in there for events and it was very comfortable,” Prekop says.
Despite its expansive footprint, the home feels cozy thanks to natural wood accents, including flooring and bookshelves. Outside, beams and fencing that diffuse light and create shadows on the floor below cover the patio in dramatic lighting.
“It is constructed with clear, architectural-quality redwood,” Prekop says, adding there are three words that inspired the structure — subtlety, dignity and zest.
“They constitute my interest in the Shaker community and integrating your work with your life,” he says.
An arbor provides great cover for the outdoor kitchen, which houses a large grill. The grounds and garden embrace a natural landscape.
“In front of the red building, my wife purchased meadow grass that grows very tall, but right now it is cut down flat,” Prekop says. “There are little highlights of the beautiful plants.”
Although Prekop says the home’s mirrors are not difficult to remove, his hope is the new owners will keep the custom work intact. Since listing the house, Prekop says the question everyone has been asking him and his wife is if it will be hard to leave the home behind after investing so much time in making it their own.
“I am finished with the house; I am happy and I am done with it,” he says. “It is time to move to the next chapter of our lives, where we will be enjoying a very modest house.”
Drawing on her years of experience covering the region’s real estate industry, Rosa Colucci offers Hot Property, an inside look into unique and historic homes on the market. Each week, Hot Property goes behind the For Sale sign to share the story of a special Pittsburgh-area home. Rosa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About: O’Hara (ohara.pa.us/community)
Planes, Trains & Automobiles: A 40-minute commute to the airport.
School: With an enrollment of 4,600 students, Fox Chapel Area School District’s six schools have all been named Blue Ribbon Schools. The district also has been named among the Best Communities for Music Education for eight years running.
Neighborhood: Nestled in the green hills next to Fox Chapel, Sharpsburg and Aspinwall, O’Hara is home to the Bayernhof Museum. Originally settled by James O’Hara, the township has a horseshoe configuration thanks to its neighbors, who through the years annexed several large sections of land.