Change Is Good

One neighborhood, One designer, Three homeowners with different tastes

In 1910, Fredrick Law Olmstead, an American journalist and landscape designer, wrote about a wooded valley, situated on a hillside, ten minutes from downtown Pittsburgh. “Its long meadows of varying width would make ideal play fields,” he wrote. “...The wooded slopes on either side give ample opportunity for enjoyment of the forest for shaded walks and cool resting places.” Olmstead was suggesting this area would make a beautiful park within the city limits.

History lesson

Unfortunately for Olmstead, the park-like setting’s proximity to the riverfront made it irresistible for industrial use. It was purchased by Duquesne Slag Company in 1922 and for 50 years the 238 acres were a dumping ground for steel by-product. Flash forward to modern day and with the help of a $250-million public-private venture, you now have one of the most desirable new communities in Pittsburgh.

Today, Summerset at Frick Park sits on the same hillside, overlooking Nine Mile Run, and is a hop, skip and a jump from Squirrel Hill and the waterfront. The new community, rooted in sustainable building, is as picturesque as they come. Tree-lined streets featuring houses with large, inviting front porches, sidewalks perfect for bike riding or dog walking, all situated conveniently close to the hustle and bustle of downtown.

No one could have imagined that state-of-the-art kitchens would show up in a modern, green, luxury neighborhood that rose from the steel graveyard it once was.

Design concepts

Five years ago, after moving to the newly constructed neighborhood, three homeowners were deciding what to do with their new spaces. The homes all have very open living areas and the kitchens are an intricate element to the first floor. With tastes varying from traditional to modern, the kitchen was really going to allow them to express themselves. Nancy Sudsina, designer with W.T. Leggett Kitchens, worked in all three homes. Each homeowner was looking for something different, so lucky for Sudsina, designing never became monotonous.

Kevin and Dawn

When Kevin and Dawn were planning their kitchen with Sudsina, they had a general idea of what they wanted. “Something that was old-world in appearance, but that allowed for casual entertaining and was a true working kitchen,” Dawn says. The couple both enjoy cooking and entertaining and wanted to be able to stage formal dinner parties as well as casual gatherings.

Because they had a lot of lead time while their home was being built, Kevin and Dawn had the opportunity to explore many different avenues. “We even went so far as to visit the Kohler factory in Wisconsin,” Dawn says. The couple’s “must-have” list included a beamed ceiling and plaster textured walls. They also wanted double ovens, multiple dishwashers, a large gathering island and a restaurant quality cooktop. “We wanted the space to be memorable,” Dawn says.

Sudsina says the kitchen plan was beautiful, but Kevin didn’t seem very excited until a unique addition came into play. The center island is supported by carved wooden fish produced in Germany. The fish were originally carved to be mantle supports for a fireplace, but Sudsina was able to get them custom fit for the island. “It was wonderful that Nancy took that much interest in finding special touches for us,” Dawn says.

Other great touches throughout the kitchen include the beams on the ceiling, which were originally in the Westinghouse Air Brake Building and are over 100 years old. The flooring in the kitchen is recovered heart pine from the Florida swamps.

“Everything came together to create a very special space,” Dawn says.


Home builder: Montgomery & Rust; Kitchen designer: Nancy Sudsina, W.T. Leggett Kitchens; Contractor: B&B Installations; Cabinetry: National Forest Products; Flooring: Goodwin Heart Pine installed by Kevin McCaffery; Sinks: Kohler Pro Cook, Crescent Baths & Kitchens; Faucets: Kohler, Crescent Baths & Kitchens; Dishwasher: Fisher & Paykel, Hillmon Appliances; Cooktop: Wolf, Hillmon Appliances; Warming drawer: Dacor; Refrigerator/icemaker: Sub-Zero, Hillmon Appliances; Wall covering: Plaster/paint/smokey glaze done by Kevin McCaffery; Oven: Wolf, Hillmon Appliances; Lighting: Platinum; Wine unit cooler: Whisper Kool; Coffeemaker: Miele


MaryEllen Meyer originally had grander plans for her kitchen, but scaled back for a brighter and more intimate look. “It’s very cheerful,” she says. “It was designed as a great work space where three or four people can function at the same time.”

The kitchen was supposed to have a center island, but Sudsina modified the design to add a peninsula for more work space instead. “MaryEllen wanted a New England feel in the kitchen with clean lines,” Sudsina says. White cabinetry was used in MaryEllen’s previous kitchen and she loved it, so that was a must-have from the beginning. “Pittsburgh can be so grey, so we wanted the space to be as light and bright as possible,” says MaryEllen.

Sudsina was very efficient with the use of space in the room. There are three lazy Susan areas in the corners, nooks for cookbooks and glass cabinetry added to showcase antiques. The double oven and six-burner stove gets great use. The bronze hood is a personal piece designed for MaryEllen by her niece who is an artist and metal worker. The pale yellow walls play nicely off the white cabinetry for a calming but bright and clean look.

“We’re empty nesters who used to live in North Hills,” MaryEllen says. “We wanted to live somewhere with sidewalks and a sense of community.” MaryEllen found out about the neighborhood through her husband who read an article about Summerset in The New York Times, while in New York City. “It took my husband being in New York City to find the perfect neighborhood for us right here in Pittsburgh.”


Home builder: Montgomery & Rust; Kitchen designer: Nancy Sudsina, W. T. Leggett Kitchens; Contractor: B &B Installations; Cabinets: National Forest Products; Flooring: A & S Carpet Service; Countertops: Caesarstone Creme Limestone; Backsplash: Tile & Design, Pratt & Larson—Fruit Series; Faucets: Kohler, Crescent Baths & Kitchens; Dishwasher: GE Profile; Cooktop/oven: Five Star Stainless; Refrigerator: GE Profile Side by Side; Lighting: Platinum; Bronze stove hood: designed and fabricated by Jan Loney, Loney Metal Works, Pittsburgh

Megan and Lori

Megan and Lori’s kitchen is a great representation of where their home is located because it has an urban and modern design concept. Sudsina says they are very detail oriented and were meticulous with the functions of everything that went into the kitchen.

The floor-to-ceiling cabinets are a stunning work of craftsmanship and a detail to the space that they love. Another focal point in the room is the use of stone among all the woodwork. “I knew I wanted the stone above the stove instead of a hood,” Megan says.

The copper lights hanging over the peninsula were a definite must-have for the couple. The combination of wood, stone and copper unite perfectly together in the warm, but modern kitchen. The new kitchen has even inspired more cooking. “We could maybe boil water prior to coming in here,” Megan laughs. “But ever since we moved in we’re cooking and entertaining a lot.”


Home builder: Montgomery & Rust; Kitchen designer: Nancy Sudsina, W. T. Leggett Kitchens; Contractor: B&B Installations; Cabinetry: National Forest Products; Countertops: Hanstone Odyssey, Blume’s Solid Surface Products; Faucets: Kohler, Crescent Baths & Kitchens; Appliances: GE; Custom Stainless Hood: Builder

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