PITTSBURGH — Linda and Rick Sustakoski have lived all over the world. His work in the energy industry has taken them to Indonesia, Nigeria and several cities in the United States. When they were choosing their dream home, the couple discussed the amenities and the lifestyle they wanted and came to one conclusion:
“We chose Pittsburgh. It met the criteria. We are both West Virginians and didn’t want grass growing that we couldn’t mow,” he said.
They settled in the North Side’s Deutschtown neighborhood and spent three years renovating their house. What has become their dream house, however, wasn’t the one they came to see. They originally looked at the house next door, but it sold quickly.
“We asked about other properties, and the developer brought us here and said that we could just do a remodel,” Rick. Sustakoski said.
The house, built in 1890, needed so much more than a remodel. “It was in a pretty rough state. It was broken into three apartments, one on each floor and they were all Section 8 rentals,” he said. “Everything in the inside had been pretty much covered up or removed.”
They decided to start with the exterior. “The facade was black. It was still covered in soot. You could not see what the house looked like,” Rick said
A professional cleaning revealed original sandstone with decorative carvings of fairies, stone corbels and lintels, and terra-cotta tile. The old stone front steps were badly worn, so they were removed and reused on an outdoor fireplace in the backyard. Allied Millwork in the Strip District made a new front door and period windows. Heritage Industries custom-made iron flower boxes, window grates and a railing.
Bob Baumbach was the lead architect for the 4,000-square-foot interior renovation. Because there was so little left of the original floorplan, he had a blank slate. And when house historian Carol Peterson told the Sustakoskis that the building was originally a bakery, they had an idea.
Contractors found what they believed was the original bread oven and exposed it, an homage to history and a centerpiece of a warm, welcoming and modern home. The kitchen is a mix of cabinetry stained in warm oak and persimmon red. The counter tops are granite, and beefy wood corbels add heft.
The star of the show is a red Bertazzoni 48-inch stove with a pot-filling faucet. The kitchen includes a Miele espresso maker and Electrolux convection oven. Refrigerators and freezers by Thermador.
“I researched and chose all of the appliances, even the KitchenAid double-drawer dishwasher that my wife hates,” Rick said. “It’s too short for tall platters and pots.”
Other rooms on the first floor include a TV room, powder room, living room, dining room and pantry. Contractors discovered several fireplaces and a stained-glass window underneath plywood.
The second level has two bedrooms, two full baths, a sitting room and a laundry room. The master suite is on the third floor. The rear bathroom has a multi-jet shower. “The kids call it the car wash because the shower has so many sprays on the walls and above,” he said.
These former suburbanites are loving their urban dream house.
“We’ve always lived in suburbia. You don’t end up really knowing your neighbors. Here, we keep an eye on each other’s properties and we know everyone. We get each other’s mail,” he said.