Buying Here: Fawn


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Before architect and longtime Pittsburgher Sean Hohman moved to San Diego, Calif. in May, he told his wife, "I just want to sleep there one night. I want to eat one meal in the house before I leave."

The house he was referring to was the project to which Mr. Hohman had dedicated the past two years and the place he envisioned moving into with his family. But a job offer with the international architecture firm Gensler called him to the West Coast, so he settled for a one-night stay in the house he had been ready to call home: a 3,900-square-feet Corten steel-framed, four bedroom property by Bending Tree Lane (on Millerstown Road) in Fawn.

Still without an address, the new one-story house features 31/2 baths, a six-car garage, hickory wood floors and Silestone kitchen counter tops. Set on 5 acres and on the market for $750,000, the property is listed with Coldwell Banker Real Estate agent Rob Strohm, Jr. (412-963-7655, ext. 239, pittsburghmoves.com). Open houses will be scheduled in two weeks.

Because the house is 600 feet off the main road, it provides privacy while allowing residents to feel connected to the flourishing natural environment around them.

The Corten steel exterior hearkens back to Pittsburgh's industrial roots. The metallurgy of the steel allows it to strengthen, as opposed to rust, over time. As the house's frame receives more outside exposure, it will become more unified in color.

With a forest and pond in its backyard, the house was inspired by the outdoor living concepts ubiquitous to the West Coast, where boundaries between the indoors and outdoors are blurred.

"I've always felt drawn to that type of living -- it's a more natural and fluid way to enjoy the home," Mr. Hohman said. "The house is a unique house for Western Pennsylvania. People who come through can't believe that it exists here."

His design serves to "bring the outside in."

The home's immersion into its surrounding environment is highlighted by broad sliding glass doors and windows, which face south to maximize the house's exposure to natural sunlight without letting too much heat in. The subterranean garage is topped with a lawn, merging into the landscape around it. On the side of the house, there is room for an infinity pool.

The interior temperature is regulated through radiant heat and central air conditioning.

In designing the house, the architect sought to unify a homeowner's public and private needs through a single seamless layout. The unit's open floor plan renders the house "one continuous space," Mr. Hohman explained.

The 26-foot-by-19-foot kitchen features an alcove for a brick fire oven, as well as a stovetop built into the island counter. The appliances are Frigidaire, while the solid wood cabinets are in the style of full overlay doors from InnerMost. The kitchen opens, on either side, into the living room and the 18-foot-by-16-foot dining room.

The living room is 31 feet by 21 feet, with one wall of sliding glass windows that provide a panoramic view of the woods. A three-sided fireplace faces the windows.

A short hallway forms the transition into the private area, where the house's master bedroom and three additional bathrooms are located.

There are no doors in the master bedroom; the shower, toilet and sleeping area are strategically set off from one another by corners and partial walls to allow for more openness. A fireplace sits directly underneath the television wall. A glass sliding door in the bathroom leads out toward a miniature garden area enclosed in Corten steel, where there is the option of installing an outdoor shower with drain.

"I was trying to get away from this idea of partitions and cubes, of divisions within a home," Mr. Hohman said.

During the family's one night in the home, his children, ages 10 and 12, made the expansive space a playground for games of tag or hide-and-seek. The concrete slabs on which the floor is built prevent it from squeaking -- ideal for sneaking up on an unsuspecting brother.

The next morning, Mr. Hohman boarded a plane to San Diego, but not without images of the house still dancing through his head.

"I'll miss the unique shards of sunlight that come in at different points in the day," he said.

Yanan Wang: ywang@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1949 or on Twitter @yananw.


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