A Stylish Do-Over in Pittsburgh’s North Hills is Like a Breath of Fresh Air

You could say this living room remodel in the North Hills area began in the UK. The owner found a photo she liked of an apartment in London with a black and white hearth and a deep green velvet sofa. She showed it to Steve Shorthouse of the interior design firm DesignFive, and asked him to use it as an inspiration to transform her living room.

A velvet green couch against a wall with six frames on the wall

Instead of going green with envy, the owner used a London apartment as inspiration.

Room With a (New) View

The original space was — to put it mildly — dreary, with a single window looking onto the driveway, redwood paneling, an “ominous” bookcase, and no benches on which to sit. To create an overall lighter feel, Shorthouse installed two Pella windows, which added not only extra illumination but also an appealing view of the backyard. To make the space more user-friendly and intimate, he had custom white casework — including more manageable bookshelves and cozy window seats — built in, finishing it off with custom cushions and a scattering of throw pillows.

And the windows provide more than just a nice view. Using black sashes, says Shorthouse, is a technique he often employs. “When you have white window sashes, it kind of stops your eye. But when you have dark ones, it more frames the view.” Decorative elements include objects with meaning for the owner, including a set of framed pieces on the wall behind the sofa, a set of menus from a restaurant in Hawaii where her parents went on their honeymoon.

Black window sashes draw the eyes.

The Center of Attention

For the green sofa, DesignFive sourced a quite large (90” long), deep, and particularly comfortable example with a single down-filled cushion from Rowe Furniture. “We love this sofa style because we knew that there were going to be opportunities for people to be able to really lounge in here — and maybe even for somebody to lie down.” The large round coffee table is 60” in diameter with storage space underneath, handy for art books, and is from Restoration Hardware. A pair of armchairs — yard sale finds — were reupholstered and bring something a bit unexpected to the space. “We like that eclectic mix of this very traditional-looking, bench-style velvet sofa with these mid-century wood frame chairs.”

Story by Stephen Treffinger

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