Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Hideaway in Mt. Lebanon Mt. Lebanon Couple Creates Calm Refuge Away from Kids Renovation Inspiration Contest: Runner-Up/small Residential Category

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Hideaway in Mt. Lebanon Mt. Lebanon Couple Creates Calm Refuge Away from Kids Renovation Inspiration Contest: Runner-Up/small Residential Category

Article excerpt

Jeff Young is a commercial architect who finds beauty in utilitarian objects. Four antique levels, one used to build barns, are displayed in his Mt. Lebanon home.

"I like something that has a reason to be," he says.

So what is the reason behind the new room he and his wife, Laura, created in a dark old side porch?

"A space for just us," she said. "The rest of the space in our 1939 Tudor had been taken over by toys."

She calls it the opposite of a play room -- an adult room.

This restful modern space that any parent of young children would covet was chosen as a runner-up in the small residential (under $50,000) category of the 2014-15 Renovation Inspiration Contest. The competition is sponsored by Dollar Bank and judged by staff members of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Design Center and Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation.

As described in their entry form, colorful toys were scattered around the living room when judges visited. Their two children watched cartoons on TV. But just a few steps away, the feeling was different -- calm, quiet and a little bit rustic, sunlight streaming through unadorned casement windows and bouncing off an exposed stone wall and the lightly stained wood of the vaulted ceiling and hardwood floor.

Turning a "tired" screened porch into a family room is a common project in houses built in the 1920s, '30s and '40s. What is uncommon is that this one feels like it's always been there. This is a tribute to Mr. Young's careful design (translated into drawings by Michael Braun of Braun Design Partners) and the craftsmanship of William Rauch, owner of WGR Contracting.

Mr. Young's parents recommended Mr. Rauch for his work on their 1940s brick Colonial in Squirrel Hill. The slogan on his business card speaks volumes: "The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten."

Mr. Rauch's skill is particularly evident in the red cedar planks and collar-ties installed after the low porch ceiling was removed. …

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