Buying Here: Unity

Large additions transformed ranch-style house into a Colonial with a vast but functional kitchen


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Nearly 30 years ago, Gutti Rao and his wife, Parvathi, bought a typical ranch-style house in Unity with a flat roof and all the living space neatly arranged.

Then Mr. Rao, an engineer for Westinghouse Corp., and his wife, an anesthesiologist, took what was a basic box and transformed it into the comfortable and spacious home it is today.

The five-bedroom, red brick Colonial at 1250 Scenic Drive (MLS No. ) is on the market for $289,900 and listed with broker Ralph Scalise of Scalise Real Estate in Latrobe, Westmoreland County (724-244-3400 or www.scaliserealestate.com).

About 12 years ago, the couple started with the 24-by-11 foot foyer. Spanish marble starts at the front door and climbs the stairs to the main level. A slightly lighter shade than Rojo Alicante marble, its rosy hues complement the warm oak hardwood floors in the adjacent living room, which measures 24 by 15 feet and has built-in cabinets and a wood-burning fireplace.

"From the living room, we can see all the things going on with the [Westmoreland] air show," Mr. Rao said.

For many, the view from the breakfast area might be even more interesting, especially in July: "We can see the Steelers training camp," he said.

Work on the kitchen at the rear of the house began about the same time as the foyer.

The 34-by-21-foot space with a cathedral ceiling includes a breakfast bar and ample room for the biggest dining table around. While Mr. Rao designed the foyer, Mrs. Rao focused on the kitchen. She wanted plenty of space to do some serious cooking while still spending time with her family and friends. Mr. Scalise calls it a cook's kitchen, ready for the biggest of holiday parties or pancake breakfasts.

"There are two cooktops, one a gas cooktop in the island and then the electric cooktop with a griddle," he said.

The built-in white appliances include a GE Profile series dishwasher, oven and microwave and a Sub-Zero refrigerator.

The solid cherry cabinets are by Manor House. One nice touch is that the refrigerator's panel fronts were custom-made to match the cabinets.

The large swath of counter top that wraps around the kitchen is a light-colored Corian; the island is topped with granite. Two large pendant lights hang over the island and an even larger ceiling fan over the main cooking area. Ceramic tile covers the floor in the cooking and breakfast areas with carpeting in the rest of the room.

Two skylights and an arched window over the sink make the space bright and help lighten the visual weight of the dark-stained cabinets.

On the opposite wall by the entrance to the dining room is a bar featuring the same cabinetry as the rest of the kitchen. Its sink is another nice touch for those interested in entertaining.

The formal dining room measures 13 by 12 feet and has a crystal chandelier that is slightly more traditional than the one in the front hall. It has the same oak flooring as the living room.

The four bedrooms on the main floor, each with hardwood flooring, measure 17 by 13 feet (the master), 15 by 13 feet, 12 by 12 feet and 12 by 11 feet. There is a large main bathroom along with the master bathroom. The fifth bedroom (17 by 11 feet) and third full bath are on the lower level. It has wall-to-wall, neutral-colored carpeting.

The house's spacious feel extends to the lower level game room. At 35 by 15 feet, it boasts a bar and enough space for just about any kind of table you can think of -- poker, picnic or pool.

"That bar is solid oak and all the walls are three-fourths inch cherry wood," said Mr. Rao, adding that the refrigerator will stay.

There is a prep sink behind the bar. The space also includes a 13- by 13-foot library or study with a wall of built-in oak cabinetry with glass doors.

The house has two furnaces and two water heaters, all relatively new. The sewer system is divided (upper and lower) with two lines leading to the street.

Though the original structure had a flat roof, two new roofs were added along with the additions. This created a large amount of storage space accessed via a set of drop-down steps in the main floor hallway.

There are two driveways, one leading to the two-car garage, the other to a large six-car parking pad next to the house. Patio doors link the pad to the kitchen.

The property has an assessment of $42,410 (www.co.westmoreland.pa.us). Over the past three years, three properties have sold on Scenic Drive for prices ranging from $119,000 in August 2012 to $175,000 in November 2011 (www.realstats.net). The house is in the Lawson Heights area just outside of Latrobe.

"You're less than a mile from Route 30, three blocks from a major shopping district," Mr. Scalise said.

Lizabeth Gray: lgray@post-gazette.com.


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