Hot Property: An Arts & Crafts Bungalow in Thornburg with Impeccable Design

Yoshiko Yap

PHOTOS BY ELEVATION PHOTOGRAPHY It didn’t take long for Sandra McPhee and her husband, James, to feel at home in Thornburg.  The couple moved to the area almost 10 years ago when they purchased 533 Hamilton Road, a spot-on Arts and Crafts bungalow in Thornburg’s historic district. Shortly after, they […]

PHOTOS BY ELEVATION PHOTOGRAPHY

It didn’t take long for Sandra McPhee and her husband, James, to feel at home in Thornburg. 

The couple moved to the area almost 10 years ago when they purchased 533 Hamilton Road, a spot-on Arts and Crafts bungalow in Thornburg’s historic district. Shortly after, they had a visit from a local historian, who shared some of the home’s past with them. 

“Our home was one of the first groups of older houses built here,” McPhee says of the bungalow, which was built in 1907. “It’s one of the nice things that happens here. We have a beautiful front porch. People walk by, they would greet us and introduce themselves.” 

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The porch is simply spectacular, with original robust stone columns, open beams and plank millwork. A swing and generous porch furniture help to make it a comfortable destination. 

McPhee and her husband recall being equally impressed with the home’s interior when they entered it for the first time.

“We walked in the door and the rooms were sun-filled with big windows,” McPhee says. “We really liked that.” 

The couple is now downsizing from the five-bedroom, two full-bathroom and two half-bathroom home. It is listed for $450,000 (MLS#1523041, Meg Alarcon, Howard Hanna Real Estate, howardhanna.com) and  is under agreement. 

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To the left of the home’s entry is a 9-foot-tall, original pocket door with prairie-styling that features small windowpane details and leads to the 22-by-18 square-foot living room. Cobalt blue tiles surround a large fireplace with a gas insert.  

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The original hardwood oak floors, beams and woodwork are all intact, and another pair of pocket doors leads to the 16-by-11 square-foot dining room, which is where the need for new lighting set the couple on their initial design journey.

“We started looking at all of the different arms of the Arts and Crafts movement,” McPhee says. “The dining room light was the impetus of changing the color palette in the house.” 

The couple took time to read about Roycroft, a reformist community of craft workers and artists that formed part of the Arts and Crafts movement, and used their research to determine which lighting and colors to use in the home. 

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They painted the living room a warm gray and installed a Mission-style chandelier in the dining room. In the kitchen, a black-and-white checkerboard floor plays nicely against walnut butcher block counters. Above the cooking range is a handcrafted Motawi art tile backsplash. At the far end of the kitchen, a tall café table sits neatly under Mission-style wall sconces. High-end appliances and simple shaker-style cabinets round out the design scheme.

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Nearby, a 15-by-12 square-foot sunroom with golden yellow walls and banks of windows has served many purposes. 

“We used it as a breakfast room, a craft room, a sunroom,” McPhee recalls. “Currently, it’s a good game room. You can sit and watch the birds and butterflies.”

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Upstairs, each of the five bedrooms has lovely features. The primary bedroom is a spacious 19-by-17 square feet. Painted a fresh green, it also has a decorative fireplace. 

In the complementary bathroom across the hall, smart sliding barn doors save on space, while heated floors, mission-style vanities and a large/tub shower combo add luxury. More prairie window details let in the light. 

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The four other bedrooms include a large 22-by-12 square-foot retreat on the third floor. On the second floor is a pair of large bedrooms and a quaint 11-by-19 square-foot bedroom currently being used as an office. Another full bathroom has blue jacquard wallcovering previous owners added.

“It is so beautiful, we didn’t want to change it,” McPhee says. “We added subway tiles and changed out the decorative tiles.” 

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The outdoors space, which includes a patio, has also undergone a transformation. An avid gardener, McPhee had a rock garden installed and added a plethora of Creeping Phlox and daffodils.

“We can hear the kids play ball in the summer,” she says. “My husband and I both played softball and baseball when we were younger and we really enjoy hearing those sounds.” 

Hot Property is 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 protected].

About: Thornburg (thornburgboro.org)
Population: 455
Planes, Trains & Automobiles: A 20-minute commute to the airport. Some street parking. 
Schools: Montour School District (montourschools.com)
Neighborhood: A true bedroom community in every sense of the word, Thornburg was founded in 1899 when two cousins, Frank and David Thornburg, formed a company to develop 250 acres into a suburban community. Today, Chartiers Country Club and the original school house/community center are hubs of activity for the neighborhood. A vibrant community life and proximity to shopping at Settlers Ridge and Robinson Town Center add to the convenience.

Hot Property: An Arts & Crafts Bungalow in Thornburg with Impeccable Design

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