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Inside Weisshouse, Shadyside’s oldest furniture gallery

May 3, 2016

Weisshouse is a playground for adults with superb taste in home design. That was our initial assessment of Shadyside’s oldest furniture gallery, and it’s the most accurate description we can offer to date. Centered on business-driven South Highland Avenue, the 14,000-square-foot space holds hundreds of contemporary and vintage sofas, dining tables, and beds; and more than 5,000 rug and flooring samples. Proceed with caution, consumers. Even the most fiscally responsible adults require supervision here.

Since 1943, the Weiss family has taken turns evolving their namesake into one of Pittsburgh’s most treasured operations. When current owner and president Stacy Weiss began working for her father, there were no home furnishings, no works of art, no lighting fixtures. Only rugs. Now, the sale of high-end furniture and decor accounts for just half of the company’s business.

“Our team specializes in service,” says Cyd Mullen, Weisshouse designer and public relations manager. “We manage the entire process of redesigning your space and see every project through to completion, from custom ordering to delivery and installation.”

In early 2016, Mullen — Weiss’ daughter — became the gallery’s fifth in-house designer and sole third-generation staff member. Hailing from New York’s Parsons School of Design, she’s eager to infuse her family’s 73-year-old heirloom with the same energy and aesthetic prowess we’ve learned to expect from Weisshouse.

Not long before our meeting, Mullen shares, the Weiss designers traveled to High Point, N.C. to attend the world’s largest retail-driven home furnishings trade show. Boasting more than 2,000 exhibitors and 75,000 attendees in just five days, the semi-annual High Point Market — “High Point,” if you’re a regular — is a permanent fixture on the Weisshouse calendar. It is, to our understanding, the Fashion Week of interior design events: Everyone who’s anyone in the industry will be there, and no-shows won’t be taken seriously.

Weisshouse’s passionate dedication to interiors is reflected by its inventory. Whether collected from a High Point vendor, European designer, or local vintage dealer, every piece — from Poliform kitchen accessories to hand-woven tapestries — is selected and arranged with the kind of precision a surgeon might take to his blade.

“Buying is my favorite part of my job,” Weiss tells us. “I only buy things [for the store] that I would include in my own house, and I use that motto when buying both contemporary and vintage. My style is very eclectic.”

Within the past decade, Weiss explains, home decor has become less cookie-cutter, less by-the-book…and more personalized. Translation: Antiques are in. But don’t be so quick to toss those contemporary pieces, either. According to Weiss, a balanced combination is key. “While staying modern, we are making [home decor] more personalized by mixing in vintage pieces,” she says.

Take, for example, one of the store’s newer displays: a white denim sofa sporting indigo pillows. The set represents one of 2016’s most popular trends — but paired with an earth-toned vintage rug underneath? Well done, Weisshouse. As intended, this feels both refreshing and comfortably lived-in. “Denim has a very classic feel that can be refined in a deep ink indigo, or even a crisp white denim,” adds Mullen. “It can also be more relaxed with a worn-in vintage look.”

Whatever your style, Weisshouse boasts the products — and the crew — to furnish your dream space. The establishment’s 13 employees — most of whom have “been part of the team for many years,” according to Weiss — are a collective powerhouse of experience and authenticity. In Pittsburgh fashion, they’ll greet you with a smile, sit down for a chat, and tell you all about the city they’ve loved and lived in all their lives.

“I am constantly inspired by the people who live here,” says Mullen. “Pittsburgh is not only a beautiful city with access to the arts and culture, but it’s also an easy place to live with a family.”

Or — if you’re lucky — to work with one.

Photos by Tara Bennett