Many people have a camp or a weekend cottage where they get away from their workday world, somewhere out in the country where nature can recharge the weary soul.
Tucked away along the western edge of Franklin Park near the border with Sewickley Hills is a refuge that happens to be convenient yet secluded -- 2356 Little Sewickley Creek Road (MLS No. 971186) is on the market for $499,000 through Lorraine Easton of RE/MAX Real Estate Solutions (412-337-2490 or www.realestatesolutionspittsburgh.com).
Built by Bernadette Sheldon's late husband Alfred G. Sheldon in 1976, the house is truly one of a kind and deceivingly small from the outside, with 17 rooms including five bedrooms, two full bathrooms and two half-baths.
At the end of a 200-foot driveway is a two-story Georgian-style Colonial home sided with cedar shakes. Its setting is idyllic in many ways, with no close neighbors, a quiet road at a distance and no chance that someone will build condominiums by your front door.
"It's on 31/2 acres and we own the strip of land across the street so no one can build there," explained Mrs. Sheldon, adding that Little Sewickley Creek crosses the property.
Her husband wanted to make sure that nothing would ruin the home's privacy. He was an airline pilot and wanted somewhere peaceful to come home to at the end of the day. To build his dream home, Mr. Sheldon knocked down two houses but kept a century-old barn.
"The barn has unlimited possibilities," Mrs. Sheldon said. "A person nearby put an art studio in his. Storage so high you can put anything in there."
At 45 by 30 feet, the barn was big enough to be transformed into a three-car garage. At one point, it housed a collection of vintage cars, another time a Cessna plane. In the upper part of the barn is a loft.
"The stone work by the Italian mason is gorgeous," Mrs. Sheldon said.
The family had the crumbling foundation rebuilt with the hopes the barn would last another 100 years.
In the 14- by 13-foot entryway, the hardwood floors shine like mirrors, testimony to Mrs. Sheldon's hard work and staunch dedication to never using water to clean them. Throughout the first floor's open plan, each room seems to blend into the next.
The large eat-in kitchen is a combination of stainless steel and traditional wooden cabinets that offer plenty of storage. The appliances, a Maytag refrigerator and cooktop, a GE double oven and a Viking designer microwave, were installed in the past few years. The dishwasher with a stainless-steel interior got a new motor recently, Mrs. Sheldon said.
French doors in the kitchen's dining area lead to the screened-in back porch, Mrs. Sheldon's favorite part of the house. Sitting on the porch, perched among the trees, is like being in a tree house. It is hard to imagine that Pittsburgh is only 20 minutes or so away or that you can get to the airport in roughly 15 minutes.
The 27- by 15-foot great room has solid-wood paneling, hardwood floors, a bank of windows and a large wood-burning stone fireplace. Parts of the old barn found their way to the inside of the house as long dark beams that cross the ceiling of the great room.
The formal living room measures 13 by 11 feet and is currently used as an office. The formal dining room is 17 by 13 feet.
"Beautiful views from every room in my house, all wooded, all trees," Mrs. Sheldon said. "Like the house was dropped in the middle of the forest."
The five bedrooms range in size from 12 by 11 feet to the master at 17 by 15 feet. All the bedrooms feature large closets (the master has a walk-in closet) and wall-to-wall carpeting in neutral tones.
There are two full bathrooms on the second floor, one off the master, and two powder rooms, off the kitchen and in the large basement.
The basement is divided into five rooms and is completely dry. Mr. Sheldon had an underground drainage system put in that takes the water away from the house to the side of the hill. The basement includes a laundry room, furnace room, powder room and a hobby room that could be used for just about anything. The largest room is big enough for bike riding, Mrs. Sheldon said.
The property, which is served by a septic tank, well and cistern, is within the North Allegheny School District. The nearest neighbors are a half-mile away. A 1,000-gallon oil tank and the new motor in the furnace help keep heating bills low, she said. The house, which is well-shaded by mature trees, has central air conditioning. The windows were replaced 10 years ago.
The 2013 county assessed value is $278,600 (www2.county.allegheny.pa.us/RealEstate/Default.aspx). Over the past three years, five properties have sold on Little Sewickley Creek Road for prices ranging from $99,900 in September 2011 to $1.1 million in February 2011 (www.realstats.net).
Lizabeth Gray: firstname.lastname@example.org