Becky Thurner is a storyteller. She uses her camera to capture images that inspire, delight – and say what words can’t. So it was only natural that she fell head over heels for a quaint Cape Cod-style home in Beechview filled with quaint details.
âI bought the house 18 years ago when I was single,â she says.
At the time, she was leading an exhaustive home hunt alongside her real estate agent, Jeff Stephan. Before opening the front door at 1522 Westfield Street, Stephan asked him to keep an open mind.
That’s because inside, the house was filled with powdery blue rugs, burgundy velor curtains, and other finishes that stuck it in a time chain.
Thurner, however, only focused on one thing.
âThe door opened and I saw these coffered ceilings and I said, This is it,â she says.
Now a married mother with full offspring, Thurner and her family decided to sell the house and cross the city border to a nearby school district.
Stephan registered the house again. It is on the market for $ 199,000 (MLS # 1526852, 412 / 445-3013, coldwellbanker.com) and is open by appointment.
The residence is a comfortable 2,200 square foot, with a lovely porch and a predominantly brick exterior. It was in the hands of the Jackowski family for 45 years before Thurner bought it. The previous owners have kept many original details intact, and Thurner says she had a great time unearthing hidden gems, such as original wood floors with herringbone corners.
Framed by the original woodwork, the front room measures 15 by 14 square feet and has a lovely gas fireplace. The room opens into the dining room, where the coffered ceilings continue. There is also an original built-in porcelain cupboard in the corner and a beautiful open arm brass chandelier.
âI love it,â Thurner says.
The room leads into the kitchen, where a renovation was needed after the refrigerator moved south. Thurner says she removed the acoustic tile suspended ceiling (it was painted powder blue) and replaced the cabinetry. New appliances, vinyl tile, countertops and a new coat of paint finished it off.
The ceilings of the house were also given a makeover, a common repair for a house built in 1925.
âWe systematically repaired all the ceilings in the house,â says Thurner. âWe took several pieces up to the beams and replaced them with drywall. We ditched the bath. There were a lot of old cracks and damage repaired.
Because the house is Cape Cod style, it has two full bedrooms on the ground floor. The bright 12 by 14 square foot spaces have original hardwood floors and large windows.
The full bathroom on the main floor and the half bathroom on the second floor have both been updated. The tub in the master bathroom has been revamped, and there is also a new vanity and brass fixtures.
Formerly housing a pink pedestal sink and pink linoleum, the powder room has been transformed into a chic and classic space with paneling, new light fixtures and new flooring.
The second floor is a half-story space with a large 15 by 18 square foot room, plus a smaller room that could be configured as a custom closet. It has a lot of storage.
âThe interior of this room was all cedar shingles,â Thurner recalls. “When I was pregnant with twins, I pulled them all out, patched the holes and repainted the room.”
She laughs at the thought of tackling this today.
The second room measures 9 by 12 square feet and has a skylight. It used to be her son’s room, it was Thurner’s office.
The backyard, including a stone patio, is charming.
âIt’s so sweet over there. It’s filled with all of Ms. Jackowski’s artwork, âsays Thurner. âThere is a big magnolia tree over there with a nice swing. It remains beautiful and fresh.
Thurner adds that because the house only has three steps from the front walkway, it is very convenient for anyone with mobility issues or who wants to live on one floor.
The neighborhood location is also convenient.
âThe spray park opened in 2011. There is a community garden where the old swimming pool used to be,â says Thurner. âWe now have the Las Palmas grocery store, the church with a Spanish speaking mass and a wonderful Latino community. ”
She calls the diversity of the community an asset.
âBeechview is immersed in culture. It is a welcoming city community. We met such nice and kind people, âshe says.
Then there are the charming silhouettes of handprints on the basement ceiling tiles. Thurner says the previous owner used to ask visitors to trace their handprints on the wall and sign them. The signatures date from the 1950s.
âPeople would stop at home to look for their handprints,â says Thurner. âThere were also messages on the wall. One of them said, ‘We miss you Pap.’ It was so sweet.
Editor’s Note: Becky Thurner is a freelance photographer for Pittsburgh Magazine, as well as other local and national publications.
Hot Property is an inside look at the unique and historic homes on the market. Each week, Hot Property passes behind the For Sale sign to share the story of a special Pittsburgh area home. And four times a year, Hot Property provides an in-depth look at the area’s real estate market in Pittsburgh HOME Magazine, tracking home prices and sales, and detailing where sought-after properties are located. Rosa can be contacted at [email protected]
On: Pittsburgh Beechview neighborhood (beechviewing.org)
Population: 7 974
Planes, Trains & Automobiles: Public transport via Port Authority and Light Rail, carpooling, dedicated bike paths.
Schools: City of Pittsburgh, with extensive Magnet programming, including CAPA in the heart of downtown. (pittsburghschools.org).
District: Diversified and connected by Broadway Avenue, Beechview is full of shops and restaurants. It is also home to the country’s steepest street, Canton Avenue. At 630 feet long, with a 37% grade, the street was featured in an Audi commercial to showcase the rising power of its Audi Quattro.