As promised, here is September house #2 on the Southside!  The owner’s name is Jillian and I’ve known her for probably a decade now via Pittsburgh’s DJ/club scene.  She’s a fellow DJ and more importantly, someone who’s always on the dance floor.  She’s the full time dance teacher at Propel Charter Schools Pittsburgh via her dance company, and has been working at Kaya in the strip for 8 years.   Here are a couple of Jillian’s dance clips  – 

Jillian was the first person to respond when I asked my facebook contacts if any of them wanted to participate in this project – so along with our photographers Kristen Burns & Joey Kennedy, she holds a special place in my heart and will go down in pghbox history ; ).  I can’t thank you enough for helping to get this ball rolling.  With help from her Dad Charles and boyfriend Darren, she put a ton of work into her Southside Slopes home and she has plenty of ‘before’ pictures to prove it.  Kristen Burns hooked us up with the ‘after’ shots.  Here’s what Jillian wrote to me about her place.  You gotta love her …

Hello Kelly and PGHBOX!  I am very excited about this project! I think it is a wonderful idea and great for Pittsburgh. If you need help I am happy to pitch in!

I moved to Pittsburgh from Buffalo, New York 12 years ago and loved it so much that I stayed. I recently bought my own piece of Pittsburgh.  I remodeled my South side slopes home from top to bottom-a complete home renovation designed and funded all by myself. The house has been a giant father-daughter renovation project I have thoroughly enjoyed. My father is a contractor and glass business owner living in Florida. He drives up when the big projects are a go.

I begin my day waking up to coffee at my coffee bar in my newly renovated kitchen. The previous owner was an 80 year old woman so the style was a bit outdated and granified! I have taken it to a modern and fresh comfortable space. The kitchen was completed in only 5 days. It’s key features are a modern stainless steel farmhouse/apron front sink, granite counter tops and beautiful glass tile back splash.

From my kitchen I look out to my waterfall. I have always had an obsession with water. Even my middle name is Marina. The waterfall is located at the end of a two tier asian inspired deck with a pergola. The grass has been removed-a no maintenance yard- and replaced with decorative Maryland stone. At night over 20 solar lights illuminate the yard. A beautiful back yard oasis hidden in the city.

The living room, as well as all the rooms in the house, have distinct crown moulding. I LOVE CROWN!! The fireplace in the living room was also tiled and painted by myself- my first tile job! (Sounds dirty) The exterior of the house went from a tired off white color to a stunning eggplant shade. The side of the house has beautiful plants and flowers with another water feature and key is NO GRASS!

The master bedroom is a bright shade of blue with a beautiful view of the back of the south side slopes. It features unique artwork of local artist Robert Revay. When I bought the house it had a tiny Pittsburgh closet-not fit for any woman! So dad and I blew out the wall and added a big girl closet.

The second bedroom has shades of purple and pink and has new hardwood floors.  The bathroom has been completely updated with large square tile, a new vanity and glass tile mosaics. The basement has been turned into a DJ room-complete with it’s own dj booth-which was converted from an old pre-existing bar.

I am extremely proud and am passionate about my house and about Pittsburgh! I will send before and after pictures of all the work.

Thanks again!


a few ‘before’ pics to start …




Photographer – Kristen Burns


Live in a great space or know someone who does? We want to see! Do you have a beautifully decorated home in the City of Pittsburgh? Have you done great things with a rented apartment? Do you have one particularly awesome room in your house, a great work space, garden or a personal collection that deserves to be shared? Designers, architects, craftsmen & tradesmen – tell us about places you’ve worked on. This blog is dedicated to how we live in Pittsburgh homes of all shapes and sizes. All 90 neighborhoods will be covered, and we’re excited about showing cozy modest homes in unexpected corners of the City alongside the completely decked out houses we drive by every day wondering what’s inside. We’re looking for small budget DIY, professionally designed and everything in-between. If you live in a great space or know of one we should check out, email

This first house belongs to my longtime neighbor.  John and I have lived on the same street for most of my life.  His daughter Jeannine and I were great friends growing up and some of my best childhood and teenage memories are centered around his house.  He’s a retired schoolteacher who volunteers countless hours in the community, working with the Kiwanis Club and on various neighborhood beautification projects. His house overlooks Sheraden Park, the perfect location for an avid birdwatcher and lover of nature.  From his kitchen he cranks out homemade jellies, jams, pickles and relish that he shares with neighbors.  Everyone loves John, and how couldn’t they?  Check out his place …

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Photographer – Kristen Burns