Little Flower stands with stately elegance where it always stood, on a small cliff overlooking Woodland Road in Shadyside. It was built in 1910 by Daniel Clemson, a steel manager who lived in Highmont on the corner of Fifth and Shady, and was a gift for his son. Ralph. With nine bedrooms and a large coach house, the Tudor designed by Henry Crocker was reminiscent of the height of stately splendor. But what was missing was any outdoor space.
Enter Scott Westwood, a cheeky and adventurous lawyer who bought the house the same day he saw it, even though it wasn’t officially on the market. Let’s say he made an offer that couldn’t be refused after touring the house with two of his three sons in 2011, got divorced and wanted to move away from Sewickley, where he had lived in two historic homes.
Westwood was not deterred by the size and formality and instead was won over by the architectural details that abound in the residence. Originally called Oak Gables, it was renovated in the 1920s by George Crawford, founder of Columbia Gas & Electric and the father of celebrity Sunny von Bülow (who was in a coma for 25 years and whose husband Claus is known to have been accused of bringing her there). Crawford took out the Tudor and opened the house to create a large room that once stood two, adding decorations including paneled and limestone walls, a gilded staircase, and intricate moldings that are left over. “It’s very French to me,” Westwood says, noting that Crawford was inspired by the grand Newport mansions but added a few Georgian and Art Deco accents.
The house was renamed Little Flower in the 1950s by a devout Catholic owner who had five daughters – Little Flower was the name of the young Saint Therese of Lisieux. The life they led there is undoubtedly a far cry from what is happening today. Which brings us to the lack of outside space.
“In the 1900s the air was so dirty that these grand houses were built with no outdoor living space because no one went outside,” says Westwood. “So I wanted an outdoor living space with a living room, a dining room, a kitchen and a pool with plenty of seating around it.”
On a salmon fishing trip to Alaska, Westwood met architect David Tisherman, who turned out to be a renowned Los Angeles pool designer with celebrity clients in Beverly Hills, Newport Beach and elsewhere. It also turned out to be from Squirrel Hill (although he had moved when he was 2 years old), where his family had owned the Tisherman Rye Bakery.
“We became friends and I called him and said, ‘I want you to design a pool.’ He said, ‘You can’t afford me.’ And I said, ‘I won’t pay you.’ Tisherman laughed and said, ‘Then you have to take me to two Steeler games every year for the rest of my life and leave me at your house.’ I said, ‘deal!’ So he came out and designed the pool area in collaboration with landscape architect Joel LeGall and builder Tim Lesko. Tisherman has been back every year since then. “
Westwood acted as the general contractor on the job as well as the chief concept officer.
“I wanted the pool to be a work of art, a horizontal painting, so to speak. I wanted Beverly Hills and Miami to be brought to Pittsburgh, grounded to the house so it wouldn’t look out of place, but I wanted it to have a little flair. “
Tisherman originally took the pool colors from the tones of the brick and presented Westwood with 20 different color panels for the Sicis glass tile. Since Westwood is color blind, Tisherman secretly sought help from Westwood’s mother, who helped her son design and furnish the interiors of the house with the assistance of Niecy and Michael Terral of Artifacts in the West End. Westwood preferred a color he could see, like orange, but left the color choices to his mother, and the pool’s glowing surface reflects a variety of shimmering hues. Designer Betsy Wentz from Studio B put the finishing touches on the exterior living and dining areas.
While most of the interior remains as Westwood found it and has been meticulously maintained by all previous owners, he added a bar at the end of the hall for the parties he loves it, and he added a shower to the original deco master bathroom. He found many of the furnishings in the warehouse, including large oriental carpets and the window decorations for each room in garbage bags in the coach house and in the basement. The house is set up for comfort, not show, with a TV in the living room so the kids can hang out and use the space. That became more important when Westwood’s partner Susan DeSimone moved in with her daughters. The “Brady Bunch” effect led to the most recently completed project: a state-of-the-art kitchen.
“For me, the shortcoming of the house has always been the kitchen. It didn’t match the rest of the house. Susan and I started doing research on kitchens and saw a picture on the internet or in a magazine of a similar old house with this marble island and I liked it a lot. It was made by Cesar, an Italian company, and we flew to New York to visit the Cesar showroom. There has been a lot of debate about how modern a kitchen should be. The integrity of the company is very important to me. When you travel around Europe you will see beautiful old houses with modern kitchens.
“It’s turned out to be quite a project. We started in January 2020 and took everything down to the studs and found that the marble landing on the stairs was not structurally supported so we had to put in steel beams. Then COVID came and it hit Italy first, where they had the cupboards and everything shut down, so we had no kitchen during the pandemic. “
The effort and the wait were worth it. A 14 × 4 island made of gray St. Laurent marble from Italy centers the room and everything on the island is electronically supported. Knock twice on the door and the two Miele dishwashers open. The refrigerator opens with one push. Neither in the Gaggenau wall-mounted ovens nor the induction hob, handles or knobs disturb the simplicity. The adjacent pantry of the butler has a 30-glass dishwasher, wine refrigerator, ice maker, and Sub Zero refrigerator drawers. The wallcovering by Phillip Jeffries with gold leaf squares and gold leaf glass tiles surrounding the range shine in the Italian lights under the raised ceiling, which is accentuated by shapes from Hyde Park. There are also three Samsung The Frame televisions.
“I may have been a little over the top with the televisions,” laughs Westwood. “They also function as our art when they are not turned on, showing paintings that we select. Depending on whether you cook or eat on the island or in the cocktail area, I also wanted to see a television and be able to use the kitchen in a modern way. “
There is no kitchen table for that. A seating area with small beverage tables that can be easily moved is used for casual dining. “We didn’t want a kitchen table because our family is so big that we use the dining room. If it’s just Susan and me, we’ll sit on the island or in the lounge area. We also wanted to turn the kitchen into an entertainment space. Our inspiration for the seating area was a very comfortable cocktail lounge. “
The glamorous result makes it easy to raise a glass to it!