Inside Weisshouse, Shadyside's oldest furniture gallery | Lifespace
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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.

Founded in 1943, the Weiss family’s namesake has gradually developed into one of Pittsburgh’s most respected 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 roughly half of the company’s business.

The other half — according to Cyd Mullen, who is Weiss’ daughter and the gallery’s designer and public relations manager — is service-oriented. She says, “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 became Weisshouse’s fifth in-house designer and its only third-generation staff member. A graduate of New York’s Parsons School of Design, she’s eager to uphold the aesthetic prowess that her family’s 73-year-old heirloom is known for.

Not long before our meeting, the company’s designers traveled to High Point, North Carolina 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 semiannual 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 is anyone in the industry will be there, and no-shows won’t be taken seriously.

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

Majorly responsible for the selection is Weiss, who says that furnishing the store is her favorite to-do. “I only buy things [for Weisshouse] that I would include in my own house, and I use that motto when buying both contemporary and vintage. My style is very eclectic.”

She explains that within the past decade, home decor has become less cookie-cutter, less by-the-book, and more personalized. Antiques are in, as a rule of thumb — but don’t be so quick to toss those contemporary pieces. A balanced combination is key, Weiss confirms: “While staying modern, we are making [home decor] more personalized by mixing in vintage pieces.”

Take, for example, a newer store display: indigo pillows on a white denim sofa. Representing one of 2016’s most popular trends, the set is made new in Weisshouse with an earth-toned vintage rug. As intended, the pairing emits both comfort and relevance. Mullen says, “Denim has a very classic feel that can be refined in a deep ink indigo, or even a crisp white denim. It can also be more relaxed with a worn-in vintage look.”

Whatever your style, Weisshouse offers the confidence — and the manpower — to furnish your dream space. Weiss says that most of the establishment’s 13 employees have been part of the team for “many years,” wielding a valuable level of combined expertise. And, 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,” Mullen says. “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