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Mt. Washington renovation is a labor of love – Tribune |

Mt. Washington renovation is a labor of love – Tribune

Change is at the heart of the home at 217 Grandview Ave. on Mt. Washington.

A building that was a duplex has become a one-family home. A dining room now is a bedroom. A bedroom has been transformed into dressing area and walk-in closet. Four feet have been added to a dining room by extending an outside wall.

Even the stairs leading to the second-floor family room have been redesigned so the head and neck of a 16-foot-tall giraffe can poke upstairs.

Most important, said owner Marie Mulloney, it is an “upside down� house. The sleeping-private area is on the first floor, separated from the entrance by a large foyer. The entertaining area, which usually is on ground level, is on the second floor and is dominated by an impressive view of the city.

“Very often you call these kind of rooms Florida rooms, but we think it should be called a Pittsburgh room,� Mulloney said, motioning to the view.

The house across the street from the Mt. Washington observation platforms is for sale for $999,000.

Mulloney and her late husband, Peter, began changing the home in 1978 and worked on it until 2002. He lived in it when it was a two-family home, but they were eager to change it once the opportunity arose.

It was work that altered the nature of the house by changing the function of rooms. Small changes were within the rooms as well.

Mulloney believes the home is about 100 years old, but said she has heard different estimates from architects, who believe it may be older. A century old or later, it is filled with small closets that have been changed in places.

One was in a bedroom when the home was a duplex. It now is a built-in buffet in a dining room. Another has been changed from a closet to a lighted dinnerware storage and display area.

Mulloney said she and Peter found the dining area to be small, so they extended the side wall to add a 12-foot-by-4-foot space. In doing so, they used an original window that was on the back wall and a new one on the side that didn’t exist before.

It might seem like a curious addition, but more work was to come.

A deck they added to the back of the home spans the area from the old rear entrance to the expanded dining room. A steel, circular staircase initially went to the first floor patio near the entrance. But Mulloney decided she wanted to add a pantry space next to the entrance, framed on the outside by the deck. That meant moving the staircase beyond the extended dining room, where it still stands.

Work in the back didn’t stop there.

She said she and Peter decided they wanted to connect the three-car garage at the side to the house. They had to expand the garage to connect it to the corner of the home where they added an elevator.

The area next to the ground-level entrance is a nicely designed mudroom. It is opposite the space below the second-floor pantry and has been turned into a sauna.

With all of the additions, the home has between 3,200 and 3,600 square feet, she said.

The front of the house has what Mulloney calls the “hidden patio.� It is the space below the Grandview Avenue-side deck.

Because it was below the deck and behind some greenery, it was prone to mud because it didn’t get enough light to dry it. The Mulloneys added some paving stone to eliminate the moisture issue.

The property is urban-looking, but has enough space to provide breathing room. The driveway to the garage has a line of earth opposite the home that Mulloney was able to use as a garden.

The other side of the property was turned into a park-like area with a walkway and seating in an effort to end any possibility of development.

“It was a real labor of love,� Mulloney said.

Bob Karlovits is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at or 412-320-7852.

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