Buying Here: Penn Township

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Built in the late 1800s, the house Joanne Kitchen and her husband DeLee first saw back in 2005 showed both its age and potential. So the couple went to work. Over the next eight years, they brought the tired Colonial back to life.

Looking to downsize, the Kitchens have put their three-story brick home, horse barn, large detached garage and 4.4 acres of land at 279 Elliot Court, Penn Township (MLS No. 987569) on the market for $289,990 through Barb Sulava of Broker 1 Realty (412-491-4088 or

Ms. Kitchen, an interior designer, brought her talents not only to their home but to the one-of-a-kind, steel-sided horse barn.

"I would say I created that barn. It's a 30- by 40-[foot] metal barn from the outside but on the inside, I did the planning," said Ms. Kitchen, who has worked with horses for 30 years.

The interior walls are interchangeable, so they can be moved to create a larger stall or expand the tack area. Ms. Kitchen also designed a buffer area that allows for easier pasturing of the horses and less mess around the barn itself.

Mrs. Sulava, whose brokerage has sold a number of farms, called the horse barn "the best laid-out and planned barn I have seen in a long time."

Before moving in, the couple removed an old coal furnace, gutted the walls, had them re-plastered and repainted the interior.

Although the house had been empty for five years, the previous owner had installed newer double-paned windows. Fortunately, they kept the original woodwork surrounding the tall windows.

With new cabinets, appliances and flooring, the 14- by 13-foot kitchen strikes a balance between modern updates and the charm of the old farm kitchen.

"The Diamond cabinets are solid wood," said Ms. Kitchen. "The finish is called toasted almond, a cream color with a glaze [finish]."

The white appliances include a refrigerator and gas stove. There is a large ceiling fan in the kitchen, one of the light fixtures that the couple replaced during their major remodeling in 2005. New outlets were installed both inside and out along with a new service box.

The addition of an outside service line capable of handling a generator gives the new owners the option of buying a backup generator, a trend being seen more regularly both in the country and city.

Ten-inch high baseboards are a dead giveaway to the home's age along with detailed wood trim throughout. The real wood paneling gives the 20- by 13-foot living room a warm feel.

Through the Dutch door in the kitchen is the 13-by-14-foot dining room, which features the same laminate flooring found in both the kitchen and the first-floor powder room.

The three bedrooms upstairs measure 11 by 12 feet, 13 by 14 feet and 11 by 14 feet and have wall-to wall carpeting.

"There is a fireplace in each bedroom," Ms. Kitchen said. Although not functional, they add a decorative touch while demonstrating the home's historical past.

There is a full bathroom and an additional powder room whose white vanity with a slate blue top is another example of Ms. Kitchen's work.

"The attic of the house is a full attic. There are stairs up to it and lots of people use that area to create kids bedrooms or play areas," said Mrs. Sulava. There is lighting but no heating in the space. The roof is old slate.

"They've had it checked out and it's in great shape." said Mrs. Sulava. "God didn't make shingles but he did make rocks."

Over the years, both Ms. Kitchen and Mrs. Sulava have heard that the house's original owner or builder was one of the high-up executives at the Elliot Company of Jeannette and that it was one of the first brick homes to be built in Westmoreland County.

The property's assessment is $14,440 ( Over the last three years, one property on Elliott Court sold for $189,900 in May 2013 (

Located between the Bushy Run Battlefield and State Route 30, the property is roughly 40 minutes from Pittsburgh and 14 minutes from Greensburg. There is a septic system and public water. The heating is gas forced-air with a newer furnace and water heater.

"We've put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into it," said Ms. Kitchen.

It was obvious that the hard work had paid off when Mrs. Sulava came for her first visit to the property.

"When I came home from listing the property, I was glowing. My husband looked at me with trepidation and asked if we were moving there."

Lizabeth Gray:

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