Tile flooring

A Matter of Time: A Grand Victorian Duplex Is Restored to New Glory

PHOTOS BY TOM O’CONNOR

Iyou It was as if the house had stood all these years waiting for them.

Built in 1895, the grand Victorian duplex on Broad Street in Sewickley was there when Mark Izydore’s grandmother’s family moved to the area and started a nursery and mowing service that kept the village lawns green and well maintained.

It was there when Heather Wildman grew up on one end of Broad Street in the 1980s and 90s, and it was there when she returned to the other end after 13 years away.

This is where Marta Izydore stood on the corner of Beaver and Broad streets, feeling like she belonged somewhere for the first time since growing up in Poland.

The three of them finally converged on the property in 2018, when the Izydores purchased it and enlisted Wildman, an architectural designer and co-owner of Pittsburgh-based Wildman Chalmers Design, to bring it back to life.

Wildman was an obvious choice. She had already renovated the right side of the duplex, so she knew the building well. Her love of historic architecture and her position as chair of the Sewickley Historic Review Commission also gave her a unique insight into the possibilities of the house.

“I like to think holistically, inside and out – what do we need to save and what works?” Wildman says. “It’s a victory when you can preserve the character of the house and modernize the spaces.”

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The subsequent design and renovation of the interior infrastructure on the four floors of the house took more than two years and involved hundreds of small decisions (which occurred mainly over long distances because the Izydores resided in Florida), but the house on Broad Street is now the perfect blend of style and history.

“There’s a charm that Heather managed to extract,” Marta says. “Her taste is flawless, and she left us thinking and dreaming big. It was just a blank canvas when we started.

Mark chuckles at this. “It was Something,” he says.

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Like so many old Pittsburgh houses before it, this one had been divided into several apartments. (If you count all the former residents who stopped by to chat with Marta, “It seems like the whole town lived here at one time,” she says.) Still, it was in good condition and had plenty of Victorian features. of origin. were worth saving, including the leaded glass windows, pocket doors, and ornate trim and carvings.

What could not be saved had to be ordered – the coats were shipped from the UK – or built. Ted Stevenson, who creates custom woodwork, has ended up leaving his mark on nearly every room in the house, including the construction of the crisp white kitchen cabinets, the bathroom vanities, the the dining room, the coffered ceilings and the paneling of the office.

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But, for Wildman, there is a fine line between honoring the historic character of the house and replicating it, and Stevenson and entrepreneur Rody Nash – who Wildman says is carefully developing historic projects around Sewickley, including this one- ci – traveled this line with practical ease.

“I don’t want it to be a historical simulation,” she says. “I want there to be a marriage between the old and the new.”

Perhaps nowhere is this better represented than in the kitchen. The open kitchen and family room combo is housed in a 22-foot square addition that might have been too modern and blocky compared to the original architecture, were it not for the Wildman skylight placed above the massive island of quartzite. It’s a cathedral-style window, with slanted glass and geometric trim, which gives the space a bit of character and charm.

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Elsewhere, more subtle touches nod to the past. Basketry-inspired tiled floors adorn the four bathrooms, vintage maps and photographs hang on the walls in the study, gas lamps burn on the porch, Mark’s grandfather clock sits on a fireplace mantle and a Murphy bed is tucked into the wall of the basement game room.

The couple sourced classic artwork and furniture locally from the Sewickley Antiquarian Shop, Sewickley Gallery and Frame Shop and Cuttings Flower and Garden Market, giving the home a cohesive finish. Wildman Chalmers designer Sara Coax also helped the Izydores select furnishings such as lighting, furniture and hardware.

Of course, it’s 2022 and the Izydores have two young daughters, so modern equipment was a must as well. An elevator connects the basement to the master bedroom on the third floor – a feature Mark insisted on thinking of his aging mother, but which became just as useful when Marta injured her knee over the summer.

Mark also fought for a soundproof stereo room where he can listen to his vinyl records through state-of-the-art speakers. Marta initially questioned the need for such indulgence, but the sound launched many impromptu dance parties and even brought a guest to tears of joy. (When Mark is spinning Carole King’s “I Feel the Earth Move,” you can almost imagine his piano is right there in the room.)

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No matter where they start their days in the four-bedroom home, the family inevitably ends them on the side porch. Located right next to the family room, the porch becomes part of the home’s interior with just a few flips and switches. The glass doors open and the vinyl panels drop down from the roof, creating a seal against the winter cold and the summer heat.

“At night, with the crickets, it’s like a symphony,” says Mark. “We spend 90% of our time here.”

And, when guests arrive, it’s a quick duck in the bourbon room for refreshments. Located just off the kitchen, the room’s floor-to-ceiling cabinets are filled with hundreds of amber bottles of all shapes and sizes, as much art installation as bar storage.

“And we don’t even drink bourbon,” Mark admits with a laugh.

It is this kind of detail that the Izydores insisted on that made this house a remarkable place in the eyes of Wildman.

“Their commitment to this project was so great,” says Wildman. “We have a lot of wonderful, educated customers, but we don’t get a lot of customers with that kind of commitment to the vision.”