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Row house shows off South Side’s potential

Pittsburgh Tribune ReviewBy Pamela Starr
Saturday, June 2, 2007

When Ashley Snider bought her South Side row house four years ago, nothing had been done to it since the 1970s.
So, the 31-year-old interior designer ripped up the shag carpeting and had the original soft-pine floors refinished. She took the wallpaper off the kitchen walls and painted them an eggplant color on the bottom and a lemon yellow color on top. Snider painted the metal cabinets with black chalkboard paint so she can write on them.

“Paint is cheaper than anything else,” says Snider, who works at Perlora in the Strip District. “I also redid the kitchen floor with black-and-white checkered tiles.”

Snider’s row house is one of 12 homes that will be featured on the 16th annual Historic South Side Home Tour, which will be held from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. today. Jennifer Strang, marketing and communications director for the South Side Local Development Company, which benefits from tour proceeds, says the group chose the house to illustrate how Snider was able to do a lot of work herself and stay on a budget.

“Ashley represents the next generation of South Sider, very in touch with her own sense of style but respectful of her home’s history,” says Strang. “Tourgoers will find a well-balanced mix of classic and modern design throughout and come away in awe that Ashley was able to do much of the work unassisted.”
Snider paid just $90,000 for the 1,500-square-foot row house on Jane Street, which was built in 1866 and has had 12 owners. A German immigrant, Jacob Dietz, purchased the lot for $300 in 1865 and had the house built the following year. The home was turned into two apartments at the turn of the 20th century.

This is the first home she has bought herself.

“I knew I wanted to live in the South Side,” says Snider, who owns a friendly pit-bull mix named Totsi. “It was the second house I looked at. I think I got lucky.”

There was an unlucky incident shortly after she moved in. Plumbing problems when the sewage backed up in the basement cost her $9,000 to fix. New pipes had to be installed. She also paid $4,000 to have the hardwood floors refinished.

Snider painted the walls in the dining room a nice, taupe shade and used the same paint in the master bedroom. She painted a wide, taupe strip in the middle of the walls of the master bedroom and painted the rest of the walls eggshell. Violet sheers on the windows add a splash of color.

“I kept the light fixture because I liked it, but it’s not original to the house,” she points out.

The bathroom on the second floor sports pink wall tiles that came with the house. The black-and-white checkered tile floor matches the kitchen floor. Snider created the medicine cabinet herself with a beautiful mosaic pattern. She painted the rest of the walls a charcoal color, but wanted black.

“That’s the way it came out,” she says with a laugh.

The second bedroom was painted with the taupe color; and Snider painted the ceramic Elvis bookends herself. She also made the platters in the kitchen.

“I used to work at Color Me Mine in Squirrel Hill,” she explains. “I have a lot of experience working with paints and stuff.”

The woodwork throughout the row house is all original, as are the fireplaces in the living room and master bedroom. She painted one wall in the living room a rich terra-cotta shade and the other walls eggshell. Snider just started to strip the original marble fireplace in her bedroom but it’s taking a lot of time.

“I work on stuff when I have the time,” she says. “I don’t plan to do anything next. I don’t have the money for a new kitchen or bath. I just paint things all the time. I do things in cheap ways.”

Strang says that the home tour will show very diverse houses.

“From painstakingly remodeled 19th century homes to beautifully repurposed churches and industrial space, there is something for everyone,” she says. “All represent the South Side’s commitment to historic preservation.”

Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation

100 West Station Square Drive, Suite 450

Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Phone: 412-471-5808  |  Fax: 412-471-1633