After eliminating lost ceilings, restoring hardwood flooring, remodeling the kitchen along with countless other repairs, this 1897 colonial revival has been brought back to life. Larry Crouser and John Bratton enjoyed the charm of the Pittsburgh house on an elevated corner lot but understood they had a lot of work before them. While the bones of their house were good, the rooms had an upgrade. After four years of job, the homeowners flipped this 19th century house into a sophisticated family home designed to amuse.
at a Glance
Who lives here: Larry Crouser, John Bratton, along with their dogs, Levi, Rocco and Dolly
Location: Brighton Heights, Pittsburgh
Size: 2,900 square feet, 5 bedrooms, 1.5 baths
Despite the updates inside, the homeowners’ favorite spots are front porch and garden, which Crouser sees as extensions of the property’s interior.
Bedroom furniture: La-Z-Boy; place rug: HomeGoods; drapes: Bed Bath & Beyond
Petunias overflow in the window boxes on their shuttered windows, including a fresh element to the colonial’s curb appeal.
The brick has been painted dark red when the owners purchased the home, and although they would not have initially chosen to paint the first brick themselves, they embraced the look by refreshing the facade with a light but merry yellow.
A private backyard full of lush greenery is a luxury not often located in city limits. The owners opted for a landscaped backyard complete with flowering plants, climbing vines, stone paths, a fish pond and many cozy seating areas.
“I did not want grass, because it has too much effort,” laughs Bratton, while describing the total amount of time he and Crouser spend on the upkeep of the key backyard garden.
Pergola: Sears; iron seats: Pier 1 Imports; lion sculpture: Sam’s Club
A step inside the front door — that boasts a beveled, leaded, glass sunburst window — shows a foyer painted within an uplifting yellow. Palm fronds towering over a classic cobalt blue Wheeling Pottery vase draw up the eye to one of their home’s many inside decoration.
Carved mirror, lamps: Arhaus
Bratton and Crouser wanted the home to feel light and airy. They utilized cheerful, bright colors on the walls and fresh white on the property’s woodwork and mantels.
A sunlit stained-glass window tucked into the landing casts a warm glow across the stairs. The owners restored the window, and it is original to the house.
Paint: Custom combination with Toasted Wheat, Behr
Casual furniture balances a salon-style display of paintings decked out in gilt from the living room. This combination of paintings, photos, vases and figurines is the result of a free-spirited, patient way of collecting. “It picked us,” states Crouser, when describing how he and Bratton picked the art displayed throughout the home. “Our family and friends say they detect new treasures whenever they see,” he adds.
Virtually every piece in the home has a story. The floor-to-ceiling mirror (seen reflected from the mirror over the fireplace) was once possessed by the Mellon family. The previous homeowners removed all the home’s first mantels, also Crouser and Bratton searched flea markets to discover authentic replacements for the home’s four fireplaces.
Eliminating the home’s wall-to-wall carpet revealed hardwood flooring and provided access to those pocket doors, previously encased in the walls. Bratton and Crouser had the doors cleaned and varnished into a rich, shiny finish.
Striped background: Home Depot; dining table and seats: Arhaus
A set of luxurious crystal chandeliers add elegance and soft light into the living and dining rooms. The homeowners purchased the pair, which once illuminated the mansion of an Atlanta governor, by a neighborhood home boutique.
The dining room strikes the perfect balance between casual and glamorous. Striped wallpaper and comfortable dining chairs complement the vibe decided by the living room.
Chandeliers: Dovecote, Ligonier, Pennsylvania; couch: Arhaus; cushions: Macy’s
Their dining room is ideal for entertaining, and that the owners especially like to do during Christmas, when the house is decorated using a trimmed tree in each room. For the past three years, Crouser and Bratton also have opened their doors to other people as part of the Brighton Heights House Tour.
Centerpiece: Artistry, Pittsburgh
“You can not have principles; they limit you,” states Crouser of the design philosophy. This mantra resonates from the kitchen, which they have remodeled with sterile materials. A barbershop cabinet was repurposed as a kitchen workspace and houses a classic enamel sink. The legs of a classic dining table bolster the vertical glass cabinets. Intricately carved corbels painted an electrical green service the open shelves in the kitchen and contrast with the aluminum ceiling tile backsplash.
Corbels: T.J. Maxx; Paint: Apple Green, Valspar; white and black damask cloth: Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft
Bold floral drapes and aqua paint add a playful touch to the second-floor den. A striped upholstered ottoman and gilt mirrors help ground the distance.
Paint: Aqua Glow, Valspar; drapes: Ikea; ottoman: Arhaus
Originally, dropped ceilings plagued the second floor, along with the owners have been working to remove the ceilings room by room. This continuing renovation turned into a treasure hunt as Bratton and Crouser uncovered this beautiful arch at the den. The curvy lines of a traditional chair mimic this stunning architectural detail.
Chair: Roomful Express; green cushions: Pier 1 Imports
A contemporary baroque chandelier and bold striped drapes channel inside design icon Dorothy Draper at Bratton’s office. The owners left the room with an industrial advantage by exposing the brick above the fireplace — an architectural element that matches perfectly with the owner’s set of Pittsburgh bridge photos.
Ottoman: T.J. Maxx; drapes: Ikea; couch: Arhaus
Damask background along with a gauzy net cascading over the bed make a romantic mood in this guest bedroom. The iron bed frame is a classic Pennsylvania barn salvage, along with the wicker side table is a classic with a fresh coat of blue paint.
Damask background: Home Depot
telephone: Do you live in an upgraded colonial? We want to see!