Buying Here: Interior designer Gil Walsh's Ligonier home fit for empty nesters or a family
December 9, 2016 12:02 PM
Gil Walsh tweaked the original plan for this house at 215 W. Church St. in Ligonier.
By Patricia Sheridan / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
If village life is what you crave, then Ligonier is the place to look. For more than a century, this charming New England-style hamlet an hour from Downtown has been a sanctuary for Pittsburgh’s captains of industry.
Interior designer Gil Walsh, who grew up in Latrobe and went to school in Ligonier, has called the area home for much of her life. She and her husband Mason, the former director of the Mellon Foundation, have put their three-bedroom, 2½-bath house at 215 W. Church St. on the market for $550,000 with Scott Ludwick of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices (724-838-3660 ext. 648 or www.thepreferredrealty.com).
The 2-year-old, 3,500-square-foot house (MLS No. 1228974) was the couple’s version of downsizing.
“We lived in a large farmhouse, but when he retired we decided we didn’t need such a big home,” said Mrs. Walsh, who also has a house in West Palm Beach, Fla., where her design firm is headquartered.
Thinking they might live out their golden years part time in Ligonier, she thought out every detail of this home, starting with its location. The two-story house with a covered front porch is a short walk from the Diamond at the center of town.
“It is a wonderful downtown community and growing,” she said. “It’s just adorable.”
They looked for an existing home but nothing met all their needs. So they bought a lot in this development of detached townhomes and began planning a house that fit their new reality — he retired and she’s not ready to retire.
In addition to a first-floor master suite, there is a bonus room above the attached two-car garage. “I turned that into an office area, but it could be transformed into anything.”
“I would say my furniture is very traditional, but I designed this house to be very adaptable so that someone who prefers contemporary or transitional could easily make that change,” she explained.
Mrs. Walsh enclosed the sun porch and she said it could easily be converted into a breakfast nook. Another tweak she made to the builder’s plans was to increase the size of the master suite to add more closet space and a bigger bathroom.
“As we got older, we found we didn’t use our living room that much. So in this house, the living room and dining room are combined into more of a salon setting,” she said.
“Believe it or not, as people get older they want to sit in chairs around a table and have drinks,” she said with a laugh.
That same thinking went into the kitchen, which boasts marble counter tops, high-end cabinets that reach to the ceiling, crown molding and a large center island that can seat six.The kitchen opens to the family room with a stone fireplace and built-in bookshelves.
“Mason and I used the island often,” she said.
They worked with Manor House Kitchens because she wanted as much cabinet space as possible. Bar stools surround the island, which has a hidden lined cabinet to store silver.
“Being an interior designer, we tend to collect a lot,” Mrs. Walsh said.
Appliances include a Wolf six-burner gas stove with warming drawers and a Sub-Zero refrigerator. Other signs of quality are hardwood floors, a paneled stairwell, marble bathrooms and crown molding in many rooms.
The second floor has two bedrooms and a bathroom that will accommodate a growing family or older children returning to visit. The side yard has been turned into an urban garden and the entire yard is fenced, which makes it nice for young children and pets.
The finished basement has built-in storage space. “This house has so much storage. I built everything in,” said the designer.
With clients in Florida, New York and Pennsylvania, she said her growing interior design business is the reason they are moving. They wanted a more central location.
“The way the house is laid out, it works for a young family or empty nesters,” she said.
Inside out: History runs deep in Ligonier, to 1758. The flag of Britain’s King George was flying over the post at Loyalhanna on Nov. 12, when Col. George Washington led a detachment of 500 soldiers out into the field. Thirty-eight men died from friendly fire by troops under Col. George Mercer at what became Fort Ligonier. Today, the fort features artifacts and history from the French and Indian War.
The 5-square-mile borough has just 1,540 residents, who enjoy Idlewild Park and Seven Springs Mountain Resort. In the summertime, locals flock to the Ligonier Market and the Diamond in the center of town for free concerts.
The town is still strongly associated with the Mellon family, which still owns considerable tracts of land. Unspoiled by development, the area is beautiful in all four seasons.
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