The Amazing Mr. Nowalk

We came across this article about Francis Nowalk and his lighting showroom in the most recent issue of Pittsburgh Quarterly, and we had to post this blog.  We have been to Francis J. Nowalk Lighting in Bloomfield, talked to this amazing 90 year old gentleman,  and gawked at the array of fabulous chandeliers and lamps, both new and antique.  Nowalk is a true lighting and furniture artist who has been in business since 1948 , and he has recently cut down his working day from 10-12 hours to only 7 or 8!  Over the years, he has restored and refurbished beautiful old lights from buildings being renovated or demolished to give them a second life. He has worked on restoring the giant chandelier at Rodef Shalom as well as lighting in other Pittsburgh landmarks such as St. Paul’s Cathedral, Soldiers and Sailors, and the Duquesne Club.   Mr. Nowalk actually calls himself one of the original recyclers!

 Many of the pieces are extremely rare and expensive, and we have not found a client who is interested in any of the beautiful chandeliers, sconces, lamps, and furniture in Mr. Nowalk’s shop, but we sure would love to!  Luckily, we were able to take a few broken lamps to him, and he was able to fix them beautifully. He is a craftsman extraordinaire, and we worry, as he does, about what will become of his massive inventory as he grows older. He has said that he dreams of a talented multi-millionaire who wants to buy his business, and we certainly hope he does.

Photo Credit:

www.scoopnest.com

Mr. Nowalk.jpg

Union Trust Building

While walking in downtown Pittsburgh several weeks ago, we decided to pop into the Union Trust Building to see firsthand the $100 million renovations we had heard about. Wow!  What a beautiful old building with spectacular renovations. Many of the original interior features were retained while the lobby space was updated with Pittsburgh themed artwork and a fabulous palette of bright peacock blues, purples and pinks.

This historic building was designed and erected in 1915-16 by Frederick Osterling for Henry Clay Frick.  Most Pittsburghers will recognize the Union Trust Buillding with its amazing mansard roof boasting terra cotta dormers and two chapel-like structures housing mechanicals. But, we were completely blown away by the interior lobby with its central rotunda and stained glass dome. The Davis Companies completed the stunning restoration

We applaud the architects and designers and recommend stopping in sometime if you are downtown.

Photo Credits:

 Exterior and Roof  -https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=172346

Lobby - thedaviscompanies.com

Rotunda - www.jekko.com

 

 

 

 

 

Shiplap

We have never seen so much shiplap as that featured on HGTV’s Fixer Upper with Chip and Joanna Gaines. Shiplap walls have been around for a long time, but we have noticed that many other designers have been using shiplap recently.  So…. What exactly is shiplap? Traditional shiplap boards have a groove cut into the top and bottom allowing the pieces to fit together snugly.  It has generally been used to construct rustic sheds or barns. Now,  it has become popular for interiors as well.  Horizontal shiplap on the walls is informal and homey, creating a warm and charming rustic look.

In the older homes that Chip and Joanna renovate, they often find real shiplap underneath drywall, but, if they do not, they have been known to add some newly planed rough-hewn boards or repurpose boards they find in old barns. If you are still not sure exactly what shiplap is after looking at these pictures, just watch a few episodes of Fixer Upper and you will be.

Photo Credits

Better Homes and Gardens – This dining area has a clean and crisp “contemporary” rustic look.

Shiplap - BHG.jpg

www.mountainviewcottage.net – For DIYers, this blogger shared exactly how they achieved a shiplap look in their daughter’s nursery.  We love the juxtaposition of the rustic walls, quilt block art work, and the elegant crib and chandelier.

Shiplap Nursery - Mountain View Cottage .jpg

www.scoutandnimbleblog.com - In this bedroom, the painted shiplap in a deep contrasting color, is a nice accent wall.

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Lots of Gingerbread

 

While walking around in the quaint town of Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard, we came upon an enclave of gingerbread cottages.  We learned that these colorful, delightful homes are historically significant, representing a unique style of architecture known as Carpenter Gothic Revival. Built during a burst of activity between 1867 and 1872, most of these homes are privately owned and have been or are currently being meticulously restored.

We have not actually had the opportunity to do any design work for a client who has a period home like these, but it would be interesting!