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 Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in May

Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in May

This month's best bets in the ’Burgh.
Best Doctors in Pittsburgh 2017

Best Doctors in Pittsburgh 2017

Pittsburgh’s medical lifesavers rated by their peers, including anesthesiologists, cardiologists, dermatologists, neurologists, ophthalmologists, pediatricians, psychiatrists, surgeons, urologists & many more.
Health Care in Pittsburgh that Goes Beyond the Office

Health Care in Pittsburgh that Goes Beyond the Office

Innovations in Postpartum Depression Treatment, First-Aid Training and Food Security.
Looking Back: Dan Rooney, Remembered

Looking Back: Dan Rooney, Remembered

The builder of two stadiums, a billion-dollar football business, NFL labor harmony and racial sensitivity, and bridges between constituencies –– he was an everywhere man whose soft, steady hand was felt everywhere.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

Why Hotel Rates are Dropping in Downtown Pittsburgh

Why Hotel Rates are Dropping in Downtown Pittsburgh

Rents for Downtown apartments also are declining.
New Study: Pittsburgh Drivers are The Worst of the Worst

New Study: Pittsburgh Drivers are The Worst of the Worst

Pittsburgh ties with one other city for having the worst drivers in the nation.
HGTV Series Pilot Focuses on Renovation of Pittsburgh Home

HGTV Series Pilot Focuses on Renovation of Pittsburgh Home

The pilot episode of “Steel City Rehab” follows a Pittsburgh couple as they flip a home in the city’s East End.
‘The Good Wife’s’ Zach Grenier Appears on the Pittsburgh Stage

‘The Good Wife’s’ Zach Grenier Appears on the Pittsburgh Stage

Grenier on playing the dream role of Willy Loman, coming to Pittsburgh and performing at the renowned Pittsburgh Public Theater.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in May

Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in May

This month's best bets in the ’Burgh.
Best Doctors in Pittsburgh 2017

Best Doctors in Pittsburgh 2017

Pittsburgh’s medical lifesavers rated by their peers, including anesthesiologists, cardiologists, dermatologists, neurologists, ophthalmologists, pediatricians, psychiatrists, surgeons, urologists & many more.
Health Care in Pittsburgh that Goes Beyond the Office

Health Care in Pittsburgh that Goes Beyond the Office

Innovations in Postpartum Depression Treatment, First-Aid Training and Food Security.
Looking Back: Dan Rooney, Remembered

Looking Back: Dan Rooney, Remembered

The builder of two stadiums, a billion-dollar football business, NFL labor harmony and racial sensitivity, and bridges between constituencies –– he was an everywhere man whose soft, steady hand was felt everywhere.
Restaurant Review: DiAnoia's Eatery Bridges the Gap

Restaurant Review: DiAnoia's Eatery Bridges the Gap

With a little work, the Strip District restaurant could become a Pittsburgh classic.
Pittsburgh at the Forefront of The Brain Revolution

Pittsburgh at the Forefront of The Brain Revolution

Alzheimer’s disease is the most expensive ailment to treat and the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. Pittsburgh has become a battleground in the fight against the devastating illness, thanks to the decade-long quest of two Pittsburgh researchers whose work is on track to change the face of medicine and affect millions worldwide.
Edit Module
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Why Hotel Rates are Dropping in Downtown Pittsburgh

Why Hotel Rates are Dropping in Downtown Pittsburgh

Rents for Downtown apartments also are declining.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Steven Soderbergh Brings Bolivian Spirit to Pittsburgh

Steven Soderbergh Brings Bolivian Spirit to Pittsburgh

The award-winning director/producer returns to the city where he spent part of his childhood with Singani 63.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Five Inexpensive But Memorable Date Spots in Pittsburgh

Five Inexpensive But Memorable Date Spots in Pittsburgh

These spots are tailored for couples who are looking for a simple, chill night out on Valentine’s Day (or any other day). If your significant other isn’t the type to be wooed by expensive wines and chocolates, this is the list for you.

Comments


Five Essential May Events

Five Essential May Events

Comics (the kind on paper), comics (the kind with microphones), cats and more upcoming delights.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
‘Use Him Like ‘Troy Polamalu’ – Steelers Should Jump on This Pick

‘Use Him Like ‘Troy Polamalu’ – Steelers Should Jump on This Pick

If Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers is still available, the Pittsburgh Steelers would be wise to make him their first-round pick in the NFL draft.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Pittsburgh on a Plate

Pittsburgh on a Plate

The way to a beer lover’s heart is mapped out on notNeutral’s plate, which highlights Pittsburgh breweries (and other points of interest) across the city.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
Sink Into a Trippy High School at Row House Cinema

Sink Into a Trippy High School at Row House Cinema

The Pittsburgh premiere of offbeat cartoon "My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea" is the local film event of the week.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Beautiful Blooms: Twists on the Traditional Bouquet

Beautiful Blooms: Twists on the Traditional Bouquet

You’ll definitely want the story behind these stunning wedding flowers.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Rare Plants, Accessories, Up for Grabs at 2017 Garden Marketplace

Rare Plants, Accessories, Up for Grabs at 2017 Garden Marketplace

Hosted by the Penn State Master Gardeners, the free event, which includes the local daffodil society’s annual show, features exclusive and hard-to-find flowers, shrubs, fruit and vegetable plants and other garden accessories from a variety of vendors.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
A-Rod to Talk Baseball and Steroids at Slippery Rock

A-Rod to Talk Baseball and Steroids at Slippery Rock

Considered one of the greatest baseball players of all time, Alex Rodriguez also is one of the league's more controversial stars.

Comments