This is the Kind of Neighborhood Where the Homeowners Become Family
Houses like the five-bedroom, brick house on Woodwell Street in Squirrel Hill North rarely become available.
Tucked away in Squirrel Hill North on a street just one city block long, 6625 Woodwell Street is the kind of home that rarely makes it to market.
The families who live in these homes rarely move; when they do, a close relative or friend usually scoops it up.
Which is why Dan Klionsky and his wife, Janee Studnitzer, had to work so hard to land it.
“I grew up in this neighborhood and I played on this street as a child,” Klionsky says. “When my wife, Janee, and I were looking for a home late in 1989, it’s one of the streets that we looked to buy a home on because the street has maintained a lot of its cultural significance.”
As evidence, he points to the street’s larger homes set on smaller lots, where people still sit on their porches and get to know their neighbors, and where the neighborhood children adopt the area’s senior citizens as honorary grandparents.
In 33 years, the couple raised four children in the thoughtfully renovated house, with Studnitzer steering the design direction.
“It’s a very traditional house,” she says. “I wanted to create more of a modern feel, but to still honor the historic appearance of the house.”
Now that the couple are empty nesters, they’ve decided to sell the five-bedroom, four-bathroom house. It’s listed for $825,000 (MLS# 1603997, Mark Jennings, Piatt Sotheby’s International Realty, 412-321-9999, sothebysrealty.com). It is open by appointment.
The solid brick home sits on an easy-to-maintain, level lot. Part of the original front porch was captured into the home by a previous owner, but there’s still plenty of space to sit and visit. The couple also restored the home’s Spanish tile roof and copper gutters. In the center hall is a workhorse tile floor, perfect for a busy family, that melts into the original hardwood.
The couple says that when they purchased the home it was very well maintained, but in need of some upgrades.
“It had that ’70s style with the dropped ceiling,” Studnitzer says. “We opened the wall in the dining room and found a beautiful fireplace.”
The couple then installed a special feature around the decorative stone hearth.
“There are fossils embedded in that — actual fossils. It is very cool,” Studnitzer says. “When the kids and families come to visit we show them and talk about the dinosaurs at the museum.”
After buying the home, the couple also remained close to its previous owners.
“Pappy and Mrs. Capone; he was an attorney for the archdiocese,” Klionsky recalls. “For her 90th birthday, we had her back and had a birthday party. She was so tiny; I don’t think she was more than 4-foot-10. When I asked her, ‘Why did you lower the ceiling of the house?’ she looked way, way up at me and said, ‘To clean in the corners.’”
In the captured porch space is an elegant sitting area with a desk and a pair of slipper chairs that complement the honey-colored oak floors. The dining room’s table for eight is anchored by a swirl-arm chandelier. The original, high-panel wainscoting is painted white.
Painted a muted blue-gray, the formal living room is anchored by another fireplace and white bookshelves. In the renovated kitchen, the couple eschewed a contemporary update, opting for a softer vibe.
“Everyone was doing the bright white kitchens, but I wanted a more timeless feel,” Studnitzer says.
Cabinets in a soft caffe latte shade are anchored by greige subway tile with an accent strip of glass tile and stone countertops. The breakfast area holds a high-top table, while a slim window over the sink looks over the mature landscape.
A pair of small rooms in the corners of the home are favorites of the couple.
Klionsky claims a quaint sunroom that features walls of windows and just enough space for a pair of chairs and a barrel table.
“There’s always blue jays and wildlife back there,” he says of gazing out the windows. “It’s nice to just watch nature unfold.”
Just off the kitchen is Studnitzer’s favored room. The elegant space hosts a sofa and a small console table. Nods to the shore are hidden in the artwork and décor.
“My family calls it ‘The Beach Room,’” she says. “It’s blue with a coffered ceiling.”
The home’s lower level was remodeled a decade ago.
“It was a typical Pittsburgh basement with uneven floors.” Klionsky says. “Our good friend and contractor said, ‘I can even them out, transform the Pittsburgh toilet and make it into a lower level suite.”
And that’s what happened.
“It is like a mini apartment in the lower level of the house,” Klionsky says of the space now. “It is a flexible floor plan; everyone has the space that they needed.”
The lower level’s warm greige walls and tan carpet are set against a painted, suspended ceiling. LED lighting dots the ceiling and cement block windows let in natural light. The full bathroom features a tiled shower, cubbies for necessities and a cherry vanity sink with a porcelain top.
On the way to the second floor is a landing highlighted by a stained-glass window. The second level has three bedrooms with the original floors and a full, remodeled bathroom with stone wall and floor tile, glass wall sconces and a pedestal sink. A small closet room has original cabinets with latch locks and panel door fronts. On the far wall of the room are base drawers and wall cabinets that are perfect for storing seasonal items.
Comprising two bedrooms and a full bathroom, the third floor has been completely remodeled. Painted a deep blue with white wood trim, the first bedroom is used as a den and office. There’s also room for sectional sofa, large television and work desk.
The cozy spot has become a hangout for the couple while entertaining and watching sports
“People come over for the Steelers games and parties, too. It just kind of evolved,” Studnitzer says.
The second bedroom is outfitted as the couple’s workout room. In the bathroom, an original cast iron tub is the star of the show.
“It was originally put in the house before the walls were framed in,” Klionsky says. “Our neighbor had his cut into pieces to be removed. Janee and I decided we did not want that to happen. We brought in a company to refinish it. It’s a treat and a half to soak in that tub.”
The home has upgraded windows and radiator heating; the couple also installed Mitsubishi slim profile air-conditioning units throughout the home to provide on-demand, zoned cooling.
As much as they love their home, Klionsky concedes it’s just too large for only two people.
“We have been good caretakers of it for this time, but it’s time to let it go and have the next family put their own mark on it,” he says.
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. And four times a year, Hot Property gives 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 email@example.com.
About: Squirrel Hill
Planes, Trains & Automobiles: A 30-minute commute to the airport. Daily transport via Pittsburgh Regional Transit, rideshare and Healthy Bike Network. Street parking.
Schools: City of Pittsburgh (pghschools.org)
Neighborhood: Woodwell is within easy walking distance of the 644-acre Frick Park, as well as the historic Homewood Cemetery, which is at the end of the block at Dallas Avenue. Other Squirrel Hill landmarks include Schenley Park, The Bob O’Connor Golf Course and parts of Chatham and Carnegie Mellon universities. The business district meets at the apex of Forbes and Murray avenues, which offer restaurants, tea houses, the Carnegie Library of Squirrel Hills and the Manor Theatre. When it comes to real estate, some of the city’s oldest and most interesting houses are found within its borders. The neighborhood has been home to notable Pittsburghers, including Fred Rogers, director Rob Marshall and several of the city’s mayors.