It’s that time of year again.  The Old Allegheny Victorian Christmas House Tour happens this year on Dec 13 & 14.  I took a walking tour of the North Side yesterday, as I do every year to get myself in the holiday mood.  Here’s last year’s post.  And here is where you can purchase tickets for this year’s tour.  This is one of the very best tours in the area.  The decorations are extensive and the home owners put months of planning into them.  Be sure to add the tour to your holiday calendar.

photos – Kelly Carter
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I get really excited when I find something house related that’s either a great deal or exceptionally beautiful, or even better – both.  Here are three things I’ve come across recently that I have to share.  Two we’re using in our house, and one I purchased to use in another home we just worked on.

These original Pittsburgh plat maps are available right now at Caliban Book Shop in Oakland.  They have hundreds of them from all around the city, dated 1890-1917.  They also have maps of the water & sewer systems downtown and through the East End.  I picked up 2 that included my street and am having them framed by my favorite framer, Tom Cascone at The Frame House in Lawrenceville.   I paid $40 & $60 for mine – can’t beat that.  These would make great gifts!  You can contact Callen at Caliban to see if she has a neighborhood you’re interested in – calibanbooks at

Cabinet knobs and pulls.  If you’ve ever shopped for them you know that they’re usually really boring or really expensive.  I needed 30 knobs for new kitchen cabinets in a home we just rehabbed in Bloomfield, and searched online and in shops for about a month.  One day a google search turned up, of all places – Hobby Lobby – ?!  I looked through their selection and some of them looked really nice.  I found these metal knobs for $3.99 each and figured that the worst that could happen is that I’d have to return them if they weren’t great quality.  They ended up being really substantial and look great.

a few more they carry that are really good looking

Ceiling fans.  I’ve probably purchased 30 ceiling fans for various projects over the last several years and I’m almost never thrilled with what I end up with – until now!  I am seriously so happy about these $63 heavy duty metal fans we found on Amazon.  We wanted a simple no frills metal fan with no light.  Some of the industrial stores sell this exact fan for $300.  If you look at some of the options for “industrial” lighting and fans in the trendy home stores, they get kind of kooky.  If you’re looking for a modern, clean looking, quiet, simple fan that doesn’t overtake the room – this is a good one.  Stay cool!