1. 6 Inspirational Luxury Kitchen Trends for 2016

    Whether you’re looking for a new luxury home or just thinking about a kitchen makeover, you’ll be needing some inspiration, and we wanted to help you with that. We’ve compiled a list of the best kitchen trends we’ve seen so far this year to help you get started.


    1. Muted color palettes

    muted color palette kitchen

    White has dominated American kitchens until this year. The new trend has shifted to muted colors like soft charcoal as well as neutral blues and greens. You’ll even see these color changes in accent features like backsplashes and trim. It’s also becoming trendy to pair those lighter colors with wooden chairs, tables and storage baskets.


    2. Traditional and minimalistic

    minimalist kitchen design

    This year, we’ve seen a lot of interest in backsplashes, shiny surfaces (think metal ranges and brass faucets) and windowed cabinets. These are all styles recycled from the 80s. Don’t worry, the style isn’t regressing. Homeowners are choosing elements that were popular back then and incorporating them into their contemporary kitchens to create a style called “transitional”.

    Kitchens are also looking sleeker and cleaner by uniting smooth lines and an uncluttered appearance.


    3. Additional storage space

    extra cabinet space in the kitchen

    Along with minimalistic design comes smarter storage spaces. People are incorporating additional cabinetry or more options for storing smaller appliances. Some examples include rotating shelves, pull-out drawers and multi-tiered drawers.


    4. Open kitchens and living rooms

    open floor plan kitchen and living room

    Over the years, kitchens that open up into living rooms have been getting increasingly popular, and 2016 continues to follow that trend. People want their kitchens and lounging spaces to feel united. This has become prevalent among those who enjoy hosting parties. Cooking while being able to entertain your guests is very important!


    5. Kitchen islands for dining

    counter top dining space

    More and more, people are replacing their family-style dinner tables and opting for a simpler solution, like an island or additional counter space. For the people who have kept their kitchen table, many are switching to taller, collaborative tables like you might find in a modern pub or networking space.


    6. Freezer-on-bottom refrigerators

    freezer-on-bottom refrigerators

    Homeowners are abandoning the typical stacked refrigerator/freezer and upgrading to a more modern style in which the freezer is located on the bottom and there are two doors that open to the refrigerator. The freezer opens like a drawer and resembles a chest freezer inside. This allows for additional storage space and provides stackable options.

    If you’re planning to upgrade more than one room in your house, take a look at our 2016 luxury bathroom trends, too! That should help you get a few more ideas for your remodel.


  2. The Best Maid Services in the Greater Pittsburgh Area

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that men and women spend about 2 hours per day cleaning and maintaining their homes. But you’re busy… You have a job, kids to care for and miscellaneous responsibilities to handle.

    Surely, at some point, you’ve thought about hiring a cleaning service. You would have several more hours of free time to relax, go to the gym, spend time with your kids, or check off another task on your priority list.

    We wanted to make it a little bit easier for you, so we’ve compiled a list of companies in the Greater Pittsburgh that perform house cleaning services. Each website provides an estimate for their services as well as optional scheduling. Many will clean your home with green, eco-friendly products, too!


    affordable maids cleaning company

    Affordable Maids

    This residential and commercial cleaning company is the largest maid service in the Pittsburgh area. They cover the North, South, East and West regions. All workers are insured, bonded and carry their own supplies. There are even a few newbie coupons up for grabs on their site.

    Packages are available for one-time or scheduled cleanings.

    Contact information: (724) 933 – 6000


    maid simple cleaning services

    Maid Simple Cleaning of Mars

    This cleaning service aims to give residence Mars the most comfortable and clean environment possible. They’re so seriously about it, they even offer a green cleaning option. Rates are available by home size, with a special estimate for homes over 3,000 sq feet.

    They offer one-time or scheduled cleaning packages.

    Contact information: (724) 900-8405


    maid pro cleaning


    Maidpro has expert-trained staff that work with their customers to set a cleaning plan that works best. All services and schedules are tailored to fit your needs and budget. Supplies are safe, effective and eco-friendly! This company also offers special offer coupons on their website.

    Packages are available for one-time or scheduled cleanings.

    Contact information: (724) 942-0356


    pittsburgh green clean - green maid services

    Pittsburgh Green Clean

    This fully-licensed cleaning company was named the Best Cleaning Service in Pittsburgh 2014. That’s always a plus when searching for a great housekeeper, right? If you live in the East End of Pittsburgh, this is the service to call. They make their own green cleaning products each time they visit a customer’s home. Products include everyday items like vinegar, baking soda, and natural cleansers that are safe your family and pets.

    They offer one-time or scheduled cleaning packages.

    Contact information: (412) 475 – 8193


    goovy maid cleaning service

    Groovy Maid LLC

    Housekeeping services can be questionable, but Groovy Maid, a highly rated house cleaning service, performs a thorough interview and background check to ensure that the worker they’re sending is the right person to care for your home. Pricing is based on the number of rooms and bathrooms in your home and frequency with which you’d like someone to clean. They pride themselves on communicating openly and honestly (that means no upsells or hidden pricing).

    Packages are available for one-time or scheduled cleanings.

    Contact information: (412) 419-6275


    mr maid website


    A local, family owned cleaning service, Mr. Maid tidies up homes in Pittsburgh and the surrounding area. Their staff is experienced, professional and reliable so they can provide you with a high-quality service. A free, detailed cleaning proposal to fit your budget is available upon request when you schedule an in-home visit. Additionally, staff will provide free services to women facing ongoing cancer treatments. Check out the Cleaning for a Reason Initiative to learn more.

    They offer one-time or scheduled cleaning packages.

    Contact information: (412) 837-8297


    naturally clean maid services

    Naturally Clean

    Another green cleaning service that uses all natural products! You won’t be experiencing bleach, ammonia or any other harsh chemicals when your cleaner visits. They make their own plant-based products from scratch, which allows them to cut back on wasteful plastic consumption. The mixture is organic, hypoallergenic and safe for everyone. Services are available to residents of Allegheny and Washington counties.

    Packages are available for one-time or scheduled cleanings.

    Contact information: (412) 996 – 9164


    the cleaning authority - tidying services

    The Cleaning Authority

    Want more than your house cleaned? The Cleaning Authority will clean your basement, garage and attic, too! If you live in the South Hills of Pittsburgh and want an environmentally-conscious, insured and bonded cleaning service, these are the people you’ve been looking for.

    One-time or scheduled cleaning packages are available.

    Contact information: (412) 257 – 3771

  3. A Guide to the Most Luxurious Country Clubs in Pittsburgh

    Pittsburgh Country Clubs


    Of the 500 or so golf courses in Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh is home to some of the best ranked, according to Golf Advisor. One of them was the chosen location for the 2016 U.S. Open!

    Whether you’re looking for a country club to relax and enjoy a few low-key activities with your family or seeking a beautiful green to improve your game on, we have curated a list of the most luxurious clubs in Pittsburgh. The list is separated into South Hills and North Hills clubs to make each one easier to locate.

    South Hills Country Clubs


    South Hills Country Club

    4305 Brownsville Rd, Pittsburgh, PA 15236


    Originating in the 1920’s, the South Hills Country Club sits on 78 acres of land. Members can’t say enough wonderful things about it. The club features six fine dining locations, large outdoor olympic pool with a separate kiddie pool & playground, golf course and year-round member events.

    Dining: The club has both casual and formal dining options for any occasion. The full menu is available at all six of the on-site dining locations. Enjoy everything from a snack by the pool to dinner in the elegant main dining room.

    Golf: This course is known to be one of the most well-maintained in Western Pennsylvania. 18 holes which total to 6421 yards. The course is walkable but carts are available for rent. For convenience, there’s a 300+ yard driving range located on the grounds. The Golf Shop is managed by Toni Tracy and offers lessons for those looking to brush up on their game.


    Valley Brook Country Club

    425 Hidden Valley Rd. McMurray, PA 15317

    A non-profit social club established in the 1960’s, the Valley Brook Country Club sits on 310 acres full of amenities for the entire family. Members are welcome to enjoy the golf course, pool (with a separate baby pool for the kids), two outdoor tennis courts, four dining facilities, fitness classes, Senior Members Grill, the monthly book club, and annual member events.

    Golf: 27 hole course designed by Robert Trent Jones.
    Tennis: two wooden structure paddle tennis courts with warming huts.
    Fitness Classes: Seasonal water aerobics and yoga classes offered year around. All ages are welcome.
    Adults only spaces & events: The Club Room is an adults only space for dining and relaxation during any time of the year.


    Chartiers Country Club

    601 Baldwin Rd, Pittsburgh, PA 15205

    The Chartiers Country Club has everything you could need in a localized country club. Five full-service dining facilities, an 18-hole golf course, heated swimming pool, and member events.

    Golf: The 18-hole course, originally designed by Willie Park, was updated in the 1990’s by Arthur Hills. A putting green and driving range are also located on the property. Monday golf outings are available weekly.
    Swimming: The heated olympic-sized pool is open seasonally closing when the temperature drops below 60 degrees. Private swimming lessons are open to all members. Swim team is open to members children of all ages who are able to swim the length of the pool. Pool parties are available by reservation for members during the season.
    Dining: The country club offers several dining options: Tudor Hall, The Grill at Chartiers, Porch and Veranda, Veranda Bar, Men’s Grill, and four fully stocked bars. Reservations at all locations are appreciated.


    The Club at Nevillewood

    1000 Nevillewood Dr, Presto, PA 15142

    Opened in 1992, The Club at Nevillewood’s signature course is annually ranked as one of the best in Pennsylvania. The property provides everything you would expect from a high-end golf club, and swimming pool.
    Golf: Designed by Jack Nicklaus, this course is ranked as one of the best and most enjoyable. It is maintained under strict environmental sustainability standards to help preserve the beauty of the natural wildlife.
    Swimming: Members are welcome to use the junior olympic-sized pool and childrens’ pool area during the season. There is a fully stocked snack bar for leisurely picking. The club also houses a swim team and offers private lessons.


    St. Clair Country Club

    2300 Old Washington Rd, Pittsburgh, PA 15241

    The St. Clair Country Club was built in 1920 and was lost to a kitchen fire in 1929. Construction for the new Clubhouse began in 1930. A place of rich history and friendship, this club is 67,000 square feet of family tradition and amenities. There’s plenty of activities to get involved in: tennis courts, a pool with separate childrens area, 18-hole & 9-hole golf courses, fitness facility, massage, and dining.

    Golf: There’s an 18-hole course with an additional 9-hole course on 265 acres of land. If you aren’t quite ready to book your tee time, there is a driving range and two putting greens available for members. Lessons can be arranged by one of three golf pros. If you are looking to get the little ones involved, Junior golf camp happens on a weekly basis every season. Golf outings can also be arranged by request. Check out the video tour!
    Swimming: There is a heated pool with a separate area for children. Diving, swim lessons, and swim teams are all a part of the experience at St. Clair Country Club.
    Tennis: Four outdoor courts are available for members and private use by reservation. Women’s and Men’s teams are organized by the club. The teams are organized by level of competitive play to ensure everyone is able to enjoy the fun. The teams compete seasonally.
    Massage: Therapists are available on the grounds by appointment five days a week.
    Fitness: Personal training is offered on site by professionals. Cardio equipment, free weights, and weight machines are available for members to use all year.
    Dining: Pool Snack Bar, Men’s Grill, Ladies’s Grill, St. Clair Room, Bistro 1916, and Arthur’s Grill are all of the different dining experiences available for members.

    North Hills Country Clubs


    Wildwood Golf Club

    2195 Sample Road Allison Park, PA 15101

    In 1927 Wildwood Golf Club opened it’s doors to entertain and socialize the members of its private community. During World War Two the club fell on desperate times and was finally acquired and reinstated to it’s former glory in the 1960’s.

    Exploratory memberships are available for a 12-month trial period of pure bliss. The activities on the grounds, which covers 170 acres, include a swimming pool, annual social events, golf, tennis courts, and dining.

    Golf: The on-site driving range is open from April through October where personal lessons are available all season through the Pro Shop. The 18 hole golf course sits across 6,641 yards of green.
    Tennis: Six clay tennis courts and one practice court occupy the property with a beautiful deck for spectators.
    Swimming pool: The 25-meter junior olympic pool on the property is used for summer fun as well as competitive swim practice, private swimming lessons, and member events throughout the season.
    Dining: the 19th-Hole and Grille Bar are both open year around. Check out Chef David Stover’s delightful menu or visit the bar during happy hour from 6:00–8:00 pm every Friday.


    Treesdale Golf & Country Club

    1 Arnold Palmer Dr, Gibsonia, PA 15044

    Open to the public in 1994, Treesdale is both a country club and a quaint community in Gibsonia, Pennsylvania, which is located in the North Side of Pittsburgh. The amenities on the property include golf, tennis, swimming, dining, and fitness. The most impressive detail about the club is that its golf course was designed by Arnold Palmer.

    Golf: the 27-hole course is created from the combination of three nine-hole courses: Grove, Lakes, and Orchard. Complete with a driving range and practice green, you’ll get to experience Pittsburgh golf at its finest. The pro shop will be happy to set up private lessons or group outings to help you make the best of your game.
    Tennis: four post-tension concrete outdoor courts can be found on the property. Lessons and junior-development courses are available with the current Tennis Director during the season.
    Swimming: A junior olympic-sized pool as well as a children’s wading pool are on the grounds to ensure every age is able to join in on the summer fun. Lessons and swim teams are available for eligible age groups during the season.
    Dining: The Grille and Arnies Tavern are the two dining locations on the property. Many events are held regularly such as their kids-eat-free program which runs weekly from Sunday through Thursday, happy hour every Friday and Saturday, and other traditional events members have come to love.


    Diamond Run Golf Club

    132 Laurel Oak Dr, Sewickley, PA 15143

    Open since 1994, Diamond Run Golf Club is a golfers paradise. Since the course is a part of Club Corp Network of facilities, members are able to enjoy access to a slew of perks. One of which is gaining access to over 300 private golf courses, clubs, and resorts all over the world. Golf and dining are open to members as well as networking and cultural/ educational events. Members are also able to enjoy other local clubs within the Club Corp network. Hours change by season.

    Extended Benefits:

    • personal concierge services
    • Access to over 300 private golf courses, clubs and resorts worldwide
    • Access to other local clubs
    • Rivers Club
    • Treesdale Golf & Country Club

    Golf: The 18-hole golf course is 6,805 yards of fun for every type of golfer. The club provides both Men’s & Women’s Golf Associations as well as organized couples and junior golfing programs.


    Montour Heights Country Club

    1491 Coraopolis Heights Rd, Coraopolis, PA 15108

    Located on the McCune Estate, Montour Heights started in 1911 by a group of local residents who initiated and oversaw the construction of the golf course in 1912. Back then it was called Sunset Golf Club and wasn’t renamed Montour Heights till 1917. The club experienced some hardships during WWII, but, thankfully, re-opened in 1987. The property houses tennis courts, golf, swimming, and dining facilities.

    Golf: The 18-hole, 6,632-yard course was designed by Dye Design. In 2007, it was named the 47th most difficult course by Golf Digest. The club provides programs for all skill and age levels as well as Women’s and Men’s Leagues. Seasonal member tournaments are held on an annual basis. Private lessons are available with your choice of four PGA professionals who are on-staff to help you improve your game.
    Swimming: Lessons are available during the season for every experience level and age in your family. Snack and bar service is available during regular pool hours.
    Tennis: There are four clay courts on the property. Private lessons are available to members.
    Dining: The Club House and Sports Complex both have dining facilities which are open to members.


    We know choosing a country club can be difficult. Getting involved in the community is so important that we suggest checking out the one closest to home first. If it doesn’t have all of the bells and whistles you’re looking for, come back to this post and try again! Best of luck in making your new house feel like home! If you haven’t moved to Pittsburgh yet, here are a few good reasons to consider it.

  4. Stain Removal and Other Household Cleaning Secrets

    house cleaning tips

    Cleaning your house is either a necessary evil or therapy. Regardless of how you feel about housekeeping, use this list of time-saving stain-removal tips to keep your house sparkling without having to break out the elbow grease.

    First let’s cover some cleaning basics:

    • Vacuum before you mop to avoid getting hair stuck to wet floors.
    • Let your stain or germ-removing cleaning products sit for several minutes before wiping them off.
    • Vinegar and water can clean just about anything.
    • When in doubt, use a toothbrush. It’s soft enough to avoid damage but tough enough to make your elbow grease a bit more effective.
    • Never spray liquid on your electronics. Using a dry microfiber cloth should do the trick.

    Granite/ Marble

    Stain removal can be tricky when it comes to something as predominate and expensive as your kitchen counters. To take the anxiety out of the stain removal process we suggest to test the products you use on an inconspicuous area before applying it to larger areas.

    Pro Tip: underneath the sink or any other place where the bottom of your counter is accessible is great to test products risk free!

    1. Mix baking soda and water to create a thick paste.
    2. Pile the paste on top of the stain.
    3. Cover the area and mixture with plastic wrap (or a plastic bag).
    4. Let the area sit for 24 hours.
    5. Remove the bag and wipe up the mixture with a damp cloth
      • Didn’t Work? Try this:
        1. Pour hydrogen peroxide to cover the stain.
        2. Place plastic wrap over the hydrogen peroxide.
        3. Let the area sit for 24 hours.
        4. Wipe the area clean with a damp cloth

    You can also try using bleach in the same way for granite but it’s not advised for use on marble.


    Don’t let grout ruin your day. With these tips, you can avoid messy re-grouting and save your effort for more extreme messes.
    Here are a few easy ways to wipe away the grime and leave your grout looking new again.

    1. Purchase Polyblend Grout Renew from a local hardware store, or online. There are colors to choose from so make sure you are ordering the shade you need.
    2. Apply Grout Renew into the grout lines with a small brush (a tooth or paint brush works just fine). As you apply, have a cloth handy to wipe any product from the tile surfaces, as it will dry quickly.

    It may sound tedious but it’s a far cry from scrubbing or re-grouting an entire area.

    Vinyl Flooring

    Scuffs happen, but they don’t have to be around forever. Make a paste of baking soda and water. Then use a sponge to easily buff out any scuffs or scratches.

    Vinegar & Water

    This combination can clean just about anything. Below is a list to prove that:

    • Dry thinset from tiling an area (50/50 mix of water and vinegar)
    • Remove ballpoint-pen marks from a wall (Vinegar only)
    • Scissors: instead of using water use vinegar to avoid rusting
    • Tough water rings? No problem, use a mixture of equal parts vinegar and olive oil. Make sure to wipe with the grain (if cleaning wood).
    • Leather can also be cleaned with vinegar.
    • Rugs can be brought back to life by brushing a solution of vinegar and water (1 cup vinegar to 1 gallon of water).
    • Carpet stains can be removed by using 2 tbsp. of salt in ½ cup of vinegar. After the solution dries onto the stain, vacuum the area. Pro Tip: for really bad stains create a paste out of 1 tbsp. of vinegar with 1 tbsp. Of cornstarch.
    • To clean exposed brick use the same 1 cup vinegar to 1 gallon of water solution.
    • To Brighten up the wood in your home use a mix of 4 tbsp. Of vinegar with 2 tbsp. Of olive oil and 2 cups of warm water. Let the mixture soak into the wood for a few minutes, then polish dry.
    • Remove Wax buildup by using a cloth dipped in equal parts water and vinegar. Use a clean dry cloth to remove any remaining liquid.
    • Residue on your shower head can easily be removed by putting vinegar in a plastic bag and securing it around your shower head with a rubber band. Let it set for several hours, then turn the shower on for just a few moments to remove the smell of vinegar.
    • If your dishes aren’t coming out of the dishwasher as clean as they used to it may be time to clean the actual dishwasher. Put ½ cup of vinegar into the machine and run an empty cycle.


    Looking around at a thin film of dust covering everything is discomforting. Avoid paying for boxes of special dusting pads by purchasing a pack of microfiber cloths. Unlike a paper towel, they don’t leave any residue behind and the best part is that you can throw them in the washer for infinite use.

    Extra Tips

    • For baked on messes on your pots and pans, leave a dryer sheet in the bottom of the pan and fill with water. Let it sit overnight and rinse it in the morning.
    • Microwave your sponges for three minutes to make sure no bacteria is lurking inside.
    • Remove tarnish from your fixtures with a little bit of ketchup. Rub it in and wipe it clean with warm water.
    • Put some wet paper towels in the microwave on high for 3 minutes. The steam will soften the grunge, making it easier to clean off.
    • Make ice cubes made with equal parts water and vinegar to clean and deodorize your garbage disposal.




  5. 7 Excellent Reasons to Buy A New Construction Home

    It’s a great feeling to buy a new house. Even if it’s not your first. But purchasing a brand new home, not just one that’s new to you, is even more exciting. You get to customize it just the way you like. It’s modern, safe and has all the walk-in closet space you could want.

    The best part? You won’t be painting over marks on the wall from when Cindy was 4 feet tall or replacing ceiling fans from the 60s. Oh, no. These rooms aren’t filled with another family’s memories. They’re waiting to collect your memories.

    Of course, there are many more reasons you might want to consider new construction.


    Everything is under warranty

    This is the best thing about buying a brand new house! You know that everything is under warranty and that you won’t have to replace a single thing for years. You’re guaranteed to be moving into a home that’s decked out with the latest appliances and building materials, making your new abode a low-maintenance paradise.


    Energy efficiency

    New construction homes are much more energy efficient than homes build just a few years ago. If you buy a home that’s 10 years old, you might be saving money with the purchase but will probably even out with the utility bills. But a newly built home will have thick double-, sometimes triple-paned windows that will keep your home from getting drafty and help you save money over the years. You can also use the time you would’ve spent on maintenance doing more exciting things, like golfing, traveling or shopping.


    Customize it

    When you work with a custom builder, you get all of the features you want in a home. You don’t have to home shop for months to find what you want. Interested in marble counter tops, hardwood flooring, and Delta satin nickel bathroom faucets? Done. You get to customize all of the important areas the way you want them.



    Buying a brand new home is safer for three reasons:

    1. A safe neighborhood. The newly developed community is designed for you to take daily strolls or sit and enjoy the greenery.
    2. Equipped with State-of-the-art circuit breakers, alarm systems and environmentally friendly paint and carpet.
    3. Always built to conform to the latest code regulations.


    Modern design

    modern home design

    You won’t have to worry about replacing shag carpet or vintage wallpaper. When you find a builder to design your house, you’ll get the most contemporary layouts like open floor plans and high ceilings, which are perfect for family nights or entertaining guests. New houses also have three times the closet space and twice the bathroom space of an older home. Decks and porches are also built into the living design to ensure you have all of the space you need to live comfortably.


    Extra rooms

    Forget about an additional dining room! In a new house, you’ll get useful extras like game rooms and office space. Some of these rooms can even be dual-purpose. For example, your office can also double as a guest room.


    Outdoor space

    ourdoor activities

    When you buy a newly constructed home, you’re also buying extra space. Housing developments are typically built in the suburbs, so you have room for a garage big enough for your boat and 2 cars, a back yard big enough for a pool and space to play with your kids. You no longer have to worry about listening to busy streets and fighting traffic to get to the grocery store. You’ll only be driving into the city when it’s necessary.


  6. 5 Inspirational Luxury Bathroom Trends for 2016

    Are you looking for a new luxury home? Or maybe you’re planning a bathroom renovation in the home you already own? Either way, we’ve compiled a list of five of the year’s best luxury bathroom trends for your home décor or renovation inspiration!

    1. Walk-In Showers

    walk-in showers

    Long gone are they days when you need to step over the side of your bathtub to get into the shower, thankfully. Many luxury homes don’t even contain standard bathtubs anymore. Walk-in showers offer a variety of spa-inspired designs and features to add a more relaxing dynamic to your bathroom that improves the atmosphere and use of space. We especially love the frameless doors in front of that beautiful tile work that make the the shower appear much larger.


    2. Freestanding Bathtubs

    freestanding bathtub

    The luxury home owners who still have bathtubs have transitioned to freestanding tubs. They add to the spa-like atmosphere and make the room look bigger and more enticing. It’s almost likely adding an eye-catching sculpture to your bathroom. Install a ceiling-mounted bath filler for an extra special spa experience.


    3. Double Shower Heads

    double shower heads

    Why only have one shower head when you can have two? If you crave a customized shower experience, you definitely want two. With multiple streams of water coming at you from different directions, you can enjoy a relaxing mini get-a-way and squeaky clean results!


    4. Additional Storage

    bathroom vanity storage

    The past few years have seen an increase in minimalist home design. It’s no surprise that this year, we’re seeing more storage options. People are realizing that, as intriguing as minimalist design is, it doesn’t always fit their lifestyles.

    Enter additional storage space. Some storage is coming in the form of floating bathroom shelves and we’re seeing some resurgence in vanity cabinets. If you want to take the time to clean your shelves and their contents, go with the floating options. If you prefer to keep your toiletries hidden, cabinets are the way to go.


    5. Unique Patterns

    uniquely-patterned walls

    Forget about the mass-produced decor. This year, luxury home owners are customizing everything from their painted walls to their shower tile patterns. Whether they’re confident enough to design it themselves or choose to hire a professional, people are enjoying the imperfections of handmade décor.

  7. The Best School Districts in the South Hills of Pittsburgh

    Known as the smartest city in the US, Pittsburgh takes education seriously.

    The city is loaded with colleges and universities, libraries and museums. Our public school rank is pretty good too! Two of the most respectable, award-winning South Hills high schools rank in the top seven in the Pittsburgh area.

    Under each school district listed below, you’ll find a variety of information about student-teacher ratio, awards and extracurricular activities to help you choose the best neighborhood and school for you and your child.

    Pittsburgh South Hills School District Comparison

    Canon-McMillan High School

    Canon-McMillan is a public high school with about 1,525 students. It’s located in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania and serves Canonsburg, Cecil and North Strabane Townships. It’s the largest school district in Washington County.

    • Student-teacher ratio
      • 18:1
    • Awards
    • Overall academic success
      • 2013-14 Pennsylvania School Performance rating of 93.0
      • 16 AP Courses
      • The AP® participation rate is 25%.
      • 74% Exam Pass rate
      • 25 Honors Courses
      • 11 Vocational Education
    • Extracurricular activities
      • 37 Student Organizations (Including band and Drama)
      • 26 Athletic opportunities at the Varsity and Junior Varsity levels:


    South Fayette High School

    South Fayette is an award-winning public high school district with about 725 students. It serves the residents of South Fayette Township.


    Upper St. Clair High School

    Upper St. Clair is an award-winning public high school with about 1,380 students. It serves the residents of Upper St. Clair, Pennsylvania.

    Education is one of the many reasons why we chose to build luxury homes in Pittsburgh’s South Hills. If you’ve considered moving to this area, take a look at our communities. Each one is located in a distinguished neighborhood near entertainment, dining, major highways, and reputable school districts.

  8. The Best School Districts in the North Hills of Pittsburgh

    Did you know that Pittsburgh’s North Hills is home to some of the most highly acclaimed high schools in the state? If you have children or are interested in starting a family, this is a good place to start looking for a house.

    Under each school district listed below, you’ll find a variety of information ranging from student-teacher ratio to awards to extracurriculars. Links are provided to help you choose the best neighborhood and school for you and your child.

    Pittsburgh North Hills School District Comparison

    Mars Area School District

    Mars Area School District is a public school district with about 1,040 students. This district covers Adams Township and Middlesex Township in Butler County as well as the Mars and Valencia communities.

    • Student-teacher ratio
      • 17:1
    • Overall academic success
      • 2013-14 Pennsylvania School Performance rating of 106.6
      • 9 AP Courses
      • The AP® participation rate is 28%.
      • 72% Exam Pass rate
      • 16 Advanced Courses
      • 8 Dual Enrollment Classes
    • Extracurricular activities
      • 51 Student Organizations (including band, drama, and college prep)
      • 29 Athletic opportunities at the Varsity and Junior Varsity level


    North Allegheny School District

    North Allegheny is an award-winning public school located in Wexford, Pennsylvania with roughly 1,280 students from Marshall Township and the Town of McCandless as well the Bradford Woods and Franklin Park boroughs.

    • Student-teacher ratio
      • 15:1
    • Awards
    • Overall academic success
      • 2013-14 Pennsylvania School Performance rating of 102.6
      • 23 AP Courses
      • The AP® participation rate is 17%.
      • 40% Exam Pass rate
      • Over 50 Honors Courses
      • 8 Dual Enrollment Classes
    • Extracurricular activities
      • 51 Student Organizations
      • 29 Athletic opportunities at the Varsity and Junior Varsity level


    Pine-Richland School District

    Pine Richland is a public school district with about 1,560 students. It serves residents of Pine and Richland Townships.

    • Student-teacher ratio
      • 16:1
    • Overall academic success
      • 2013-14 Pennsylvania School Performance rating of 111.0
      • 17 AP Courses
      • The AP® participation rate is 69%.
      • 71% Exam Pass rate
      • 22 Honors Courses
      • College in High School Classes Available
    • Extracurricular activities
      • 34 Student Organizations
      • 19 Athletic opportunities at the Varsity and Junior Varsity level


    Seneca Valley School District

    Seneca Valley is a public school district located in Jackson Township, Pennsylvania. It serves students in the Harmony, Evans, Callery, Zelienople and Seven Fields boroughs as well as Forward, Jackson and Lancaster townships.

    • Student-teacher ratio
      • 13:1
    • Overall academic success
      • 2013-14 Pennsylvania School Performance rating of 101.8
      • 17 AP Courses
      • The AP® participation rate is 23%.
      • 70% Exam Pass rate
      • 22 Honors Courses
      • College in High School Classes Available
      • Engineering Certification Program
    • Extracurricular activities
      • 72 Student Organizations
      • 25 Athletic opportunities at the Varsity and Junior Varsity level

    Education is one of the many reasons why we chose to build luxury homes in Pittsburgh. If you’ve considered moving to this area, take a look at our North Hills communities. Each one is located in a distinguished neighborhood near entertainment, dining, major highways, and reputable school districts.

  9. Why You Should Relocate to the Pittsburgh Branch

    When you think of Pittsburgh, you probably think of the Steel City. Power plants, coal factories and smog might come to mind. Maybe you’re picturing something like the image below?

    That is what Pittsburgh looked like in the 1970s, but we’ve grown so much! We’re no longer known for our factories and coal. We’re recognized for our low cost of living and thriving culture!  Pittsburgh is a wonderful city and it’s been ranked as one of the best cities to live, work and visit.

    pittsburgh pennsylvania

    Photo credit: Jiuguang Wang

    Live and Work in Pittsburgh

    A Most Livable and Affordable City

    Pittsburgh has been listed on the Most Livable Cities in the US lists (The Economist, Forbes and the Places Rated Almanac) since 2000. Now, it’s getting global press. In August, Metropolis ranked Pittsburgh one of The World’s Most Livable Cities. It was categorized among cities like Toronto, Copenhagen, Melbourne and Hong Kong because Pittsburgh has the hidden cultural elements that you typically find in a big city like NYC or Los Angeles, but it’s affordable so the average Joe can appreciate it, too. Speaking of affordable, Pittsburgh is the most affordable city in the world according to a report by Demographia International.

    Big City, Small-Town Love

    So, what makes Pittsburgh so great? Many residents say they love their home because it has a big-city feel with small-town love. People can enjoy great food, amazing art and music and still get a positive response when they greet a stranger on the street. We don’t know everyone, but we all take care of each other.


    You and your children can get an outstanding education with all of the award-winning high schools and universities in Pittsburgh.

    High Schools

    The North Hills and South Hills are home to some of the best high schools in the state. This chart will give you a quick breakdown.

    Pittsburgh high school educational rankings

    High Education

    Pittsburgh is a haven for higher education. We have numerous, exceptional institutions ranging from large to small, urban to rural. Below are the top 3 and a link to all of the local colleges and universities and their ratings if you’d like to do some additional research.

    Pittsburgh universities


    If you haven’t seen it in the news, Pittsburgh is home to world-class hospitals. UPMC was ranked #1 in the Pittsburgh metro area and in Pennsylvania. It also ranked #10 nationally for adult specialties including neurology, neurosurgery, nose and throat, ear, as well as psychiatry specialties. There are plenty of other outstanding hospitals including Magee-Womens Hospital, Allegheny General Hospital and Western Pennsylvania Hospital. This area attracts some of the best doctors in the world, so if you have any health problems or a family history of health problems, Pittsburgh is the place to be!


    If you’re looking for a job, Pittsburgh has been rated as one of the easiest cities to find a job in and we have some of the best employers in the US. Our employment rate is 4.4% and the job market definitely isn’t suffering. So what are the best industries for jobs around here?


    According to Uncubed, Pittsburgh is one of the fastest growing tech hubs in the US. That’s likely what attracted the big guys like Apple, Google, IBM and Intel.


    In the past few years, we’ve positioned ourselves as medical leaders. The largest employer in the field is UPMC, but there are plenty of positions available around there city for hospital technicians, family practitioners, and other support positions.


    With the amount of impressive universities, 7,500 scientists and researchers and 150 laboratories, Pittsburgh has made a name for itself in the science research industry.


    Again, we have some great schools, specifically the colleges and universities. Between 1999 and 2004 there was an educational boom in Pittsburgh which created over 6,000 new jobs. The industry continues to grow and more jobs are being created.


    We were rated #6 by Travel Channel as one of the best all-American vacation spots. Our city is growing, people are visiting and jobs in tourism are expanding.

    Start Ups

    Maybe you don’t want to work for someone else, though. If you want to start your own business, Pittsburgh is a good place for that, too! According to Kiplinger, this is one of the best cities for emerging entrepreneurs. We have a strong community of small business, low cost of living, are well-educated and have low employment rates. What more could you want for your new business?

  10. The History and Resurgence of Carriage Homes

    What is a carriage house? Picture a two-car garage with an apartment above it. That mental image closely resembles a carriage house, also known as coach houses. Originally, they were built to shelter horse-drawn carriages. The living space above it was designated for the caretakers and the garage space below was used to protect their transportation.

    Since we no longer use horses to get around, we’ve modified the carriage house to meet our current needs. It is used in one of several ways.


    Single-Family Home

    Today, this type of home is better known as a single-family home. They are built for a single family (hence the name) and consist of one or two floors with a portion of the top floor extending over the garage. Single-family homes are most common in suburban and high income areas.

    carriage house single family home


    Guest House

    Not all carriage houses became single-family homes, though. In this case, the carriage house was detached from the main structure and used as a rental or a guest house since there was extra space above the garage.

    garage apartment

    Figure 1 Photo by Abe Ezekowitz


    Reclaimed Homes

    Recently, there’s been a movement in reclaimed homes and tiny (under 500 sq. ft.) living. Along with that movement came the recycling of materials for new housing and the conversion of non-residential buildings into houses and apartments. Carriage houses were some of the first to be reclaimed as permanent living structures.

    Some carriage houses were completely reinvented. Residents modernized the interior with skylights, stainless steel appliances and contemporary furniture. Others appreciated the structure’s origins and left the exposed wood and brick for a cozy experience.


    Million Dollar Carriage Homes

    Those who prefer to go big took the carriage home up a few levels. Here are a few examples of reconstructed carriage houses selling for at least one million dollars.

    In Clinton Hill, NY, there are twin carriage houses measuring 6,400 sq. ft. and selling for about 3 million dollars (for the entire building). Both are lined with beautiful red brick and have 13 ft. ceilings. One is a four-bedroom unit with a basement and the other is a two-bedroom loft style studio.

    There are plenty of celebrities and artists who have lived in million-dollar carriage homes, too. For example, Jonny Depp and Kate Moss lived in a cozy carriage house in the 90’s. This brick-clad 1820s home is part of a historic building in Greenwich Village worth 14.9 million dollars. The carriage house section that Depp and Moss lived in is currently being rented out for $19,000 a month.

    You’re familiar with the beautiful Cobble Hill carriage house from the movie “Eat, Pray, Love”, right? The home comes with a secret garden, second-floor terrace, greenhouse and exposed wood beams. The lucky owner of this lovely establishment is singer, Norah Jones. She bought it for 16.25 million dollars.


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