House of Rock

Five young artists share a humble Lawrenceville abode, a residence by day and concert/party venue by night.



This room is brighter now that the walls are a soft shade of sage green.

Photos by Laura Petrilla

Just a few years after college, John Farley and Cody Darling were seeking a house in Pittsburgh to share with a group of friends. These individuals are artists—musicians, writers and filmmakers-and they wanted to find an affordable home where they could not only create but also screen films and hold performances.

"We wanted to have a big playhouse to run around in," Farley says of his hunt for the perfect home. Call it luck, or call it evidence of Pittsburgh's appealing real-estate market: On their first day of house-hunting, Farley and Darling found exactly what they wanted in a strange and rambling three-story house near the river in Lawrenceville.

It fit their budget. It had a main room big enough to host events. And it had enough quirky architectural and decorative details to inspire them creatively.

The large main room, with its crimson walls and shimmering gold ceiling, is perfect for performances and parties. In late afternoon, the room is flooded with warm light—the ideal spot for some of the housemates to rehearse music.

But that main room isn't the only space drenched in color. The house has textured purple walls in the hallways and a deep-blue kitchen.

icon in living room

In late afternoon, the large main room becomes an ideal spot for housemates to rehearse music.

Part of the beauty of the place is that layers of paint, drop ceilings and fake walls seem to mask a mysterious history. Was the front room, with its high, tin ceiling and wall of glass block, once a bar—a speakeasy, even? Why is a real brick wall covered with a layer of fake brick upstairs? What about the door that leads directly into a solid wall? Though the housemates inquired about these unusual features, some of their questions still remain unanswered as they are a mystery to many.

The dining room walls and floor had been painted entirely black before the housemates moved in. Even a glass wall sconce in the dining room had been painted black. After applying primer to the walls, they repainted the room a soft sage green. Darling then removed the black paint from the wall sconce and found that it was green and gold—a perfect match for the new wall color.

The five housemates continued to find surprises around the house: Upon settling in, Farley found an axel in his bedroom door. And the courtyard included a firepit.

They hosted their first show in October 2009 and haven't looked back since: The housemates have events and parties several times a week, though they're now trying to limit the gatherings to once a week.

"Pittsburgh's music scene is pretty inclusive," says Darling, and this house has been welcomed as yet another place where musicians can gather—and even crash on the couch when necessary.

Being on a mainly industrial street, they don't have many neighbors complaining about sound from impromptu parties and performances. But they're conscious of being part of a community and usually try to lower the volume by about 11 p.m., Farley says.

As much as they enjoy it, there are challenges to hosting so many artists and events. They coordinate scheduling with a dry-erase board and a Google calendar, but sometimes there are surprises. "It can be hard to come home and find a hundred people in your house," says Farley. "But you do get used to it."

The housemates say they also spend much more time than they'd like cleaning up after visitors—a task difficult to squeeze in between work and other daily activities.

But at this point in their lives, it's a fair trade-off. 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in December

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in December

This month's best bets in The 'Burgh.
50+ Things That Will Make You Enjoy Winter in Pittsburgh

50+ Things That Will Make You Enjoy Winter in Pittsburgh

Love it or hate it, winter is upon us. Because some of us may think there's a lot not to like, we bring you 50+ things to eat, drink and do –– and some helpful tips –– that'll keep the blues at bay.
Excellence in Nursing: Meet Our 2016 Honorees

Excellence in Nursing: Meet Our 2016 Honorees

Pittsburgh Magazine presents the honorees from its inaugural Excellence in Nursing awards. Meet our judges' choices and learn what makes them remarkable in their field.
Choreographed Style: Winter Fashion with The Pittsburgh Ballet

Choreographed Style: Winter Fashion with The Pittsburgh Ballet

A regal ruggedness characterizes the season's menswear looks.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

Welcome New Year With New Things At Pittsburgh's First Night

Welcome New Year With New Things At Pittsburgh's First Night

The annual New Year’s Eve event features food, fireworks, music and more.
Antonio Brown Makes Catch on the Field but Loses the Pizza

Antonio Brown Makes Catch on the Field but Loses the Pizza

The Steelers wide receiver stars in a new commercial where he first loses out to a Patriots' cornerback, but gets his revenge when it counts the most.
Never Wait in a Long Line For a Drink in a Crowded Bar Again

Never Wait in a Long Line For a Drink in a Crowded Bar Again

A new app developed in Pittsburgh, is designed to get more customers served more quickly when the bartender is swamped.
Sweet Surprise: Kelly Frey Awarded for ‘Sharing Her Heart‘

Sweet Surprise: Kelly Frey Awarded for ‘Sharing Her Heart‘

The mother of a child with special needs, Frey tirelessly shares what she has learned with other families in similar situations.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in December

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in December

This month's best bets in The 'Burgh.
50+ Things That Will Make You Enjoy Winter in Pittsburgh

50+ Things That Will Make You Enjoy Winter in Pittsburgh

Love it or hate it, winter is upon us. Because some of us may think there's a lot not to like, we bring you 50+ things to eat, drink and do –– and some helpful tips –– that'll keep the blues at bay.
Excellence in Nursing: Meet Our 2016 Honorees

Excellence in Nursing: Meet Our 2016 Honorees

Pittsburgh Magazine presents the honorees from its inaugural Excellence in Nursing awards. Meet our judges' choices and learn what makes them remarkable in their field.
Choreographed Style: Winter Fashion with The Pittsburgh Ballet

Choreographed Style: Winter Fashion with The Pittsburgh Ballet

A regal ruggedness characterizes the season's menswear looks.
Restaurant Review: B52 in Lawrenceville is a Levantine Lifter

Restaurant Review: B52 in Lawrenceville is a Levantine Lifter

Omar Abuhejleh taps deep into his roots at his vegan cafe that's focused on Levantine cuisine.
Why You Can't Beat The Weather in Pittsburgh in The Winter

Why You Can't Beat The Weather in Pittsburgh in The Winter

I’ve traveled a lot of miles, and I still stare in bewilderment at people who tell me they’ve moved to a place because “You can’t beat the weather.”
Edit Module
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Welcome New Year With New Things At Pittsburgh's First Night

Welcome New Year With New Things At Pittsburgh's First Night

The annual New Year’s Eve event features food, fireworks, music and more.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Miracle on Liberty Pops Up in Pittsburgh

Miracle on Liberty Pops Up in Pittsburgh

The holiday themed cocktail bar is one of around 20 international Miracle popups.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Best of the Burgh: Pumpkin Patches in the Pittsburgh Area

Best of the Burgh: Pumpkin Patches in the Pittsburgh Area

We’ve compiled the best pumpkin patches for fall family fun.

Comments


Why Wait For Summer? Head to Kennywood's Holiday Lights

Why Wait For Summer? Head to Kennywood's Holiday Lights

The park's winter celebration is great for families and a fine choice for anyone who loves Christmas (and/or funnel cake).

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Pittsburgh The Heart of the NFL? Yinz Got that Right

Pittsburgh The Heart of the NFL? Yinz Got that Right

At the NFL Scouting Combine, at the NFL Draft and wherever NFL games are played, there’s often something of a Western Pennsylvania reunion taking place.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Locket Full of Joy

Locket Full of Joy

The handcrafted piece opens to hidden treasures.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
Ten Upcoming Flicks Every Oscar-Watcher Should See

Ten Upcoming Flicks Every Oscar-Watcher Should See

PM film critic Sean Collier picks ten forthcoming flicks likely to rake in nominations for the 89th Academy Awards.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Real-Pittsburgh Weddings: It was Not Love at First Sight

Real-Pittsburgh Weddings: It was Not Love at First Sight

These romances were years in the making.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Seasonal Shopping: CMOA Store Holiday House, J.Crew Mercantile Opens Doors

Seasonal Shopping: CMOA Store Holiday House, J.Crew Mercantile Opens Doors

The Carnegie Museum of Art is full of Christmas cheer — and great deals. Plus, get the scoop on The Block Northway’s latest retail offering.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Tuba and Euphonium Players Invited to Join in Christmas Concert

Tuba and Euphonium Players Invited to Join in Christmas Concert

Waynesburg University will present a TUBACHRISTMAS concert on Dec. 9.

Comments