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In Pittsburgh, A Victorian Home for Collecting and Entertaining

by Quelcy Kogel

When the new end of a hip neighborhood seems to be producing enough vape shops for each smoker to have his or her own lifetime supply, a new, well curated boutique feels like a breath of fresh, non-strawberry-flavored air. In the case of the Lawrenceville neighborhood of Pittsburgh, PA that fresh breath was Von Walter & Funk, a brick-and-mortar shop brimming with new and vintage goods for home, garden and apothecary, including a rustic farmhouse sink display I want to pry from the walls and somehow sneak off the premises.

The shop is owned by business/life partners Shawn Aversa and Jamie McAdams, and the royal-sounding name is a tribute to both of their grandmothers, Janet Irene (Von) Walter and Harriet Pauline Funk. Both of German descent, each woman instilled in her grandson a dedication to work, to family and to collecting, values that carried over into their home as well.

One day, while browsing every item in their dreamy collection, I couldn’t help but ask Shawn, “does your house look like this, too?” In other words, I invited myself over to what the couple jokingly calls “McVersa Manor,” and the answer is yes. Like their shop, McVersa Manor is just as much a mix of history juxtaposed with bright and bold, modern touches.

When searching for their home, Jamie and Shawn were looking for charm and that historic mix of high ceilings, big rooms and timeless accents to be a backdrop for entertaining. They also wanted to be in a historic neighborhood within walking distance of shops and restaurants. Shawn shares, “though we had to kiss a lot of frogs, we finally found the perfect house that we both fell in love with at first sight.”

Shawn and Jamie’s love was a Queen Anne Victorian in the Highland Park neighborhood of Pittsburgh. The house had all the charm they sought, plus plenty of space for their collections. Shawn explains, “We love so many periods and style genres that if you [were to] put everything in a pile in a room, you’d think [it doesn’t make sense], but we’ve curated each room and each piece to be both inspirational and functional — and we have to love it, ‘otherwise it’s just junk,’ as my grandmother would say.” —Quelcy

Photography by Quelcy Kogel

A Pittsburgh Home for Collecting & Entertaining on Design*Sponge
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McVersa Manor, as owners Jamie McAdams and Shawn Aversa jokingly refer to their home, is a Queen Anne Victorian located in Pittsburgh's Highland Park neighborhood. Built in 1899, the home has been restored with a nod to the past and present, including the English-style gardens to the side and rear of the home.
A Pittsburgh Home for Collecting & Entertaining on Design*Sponge
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Shawn and Jamie take full advantage of the large, wrap-around porch. They host three seasonal cocktail parties, wine tastings and dinners. Shawn says the extra long, antique wooden bench "is ideal for setting party nibbles, cocktails and sweet treats for [guests]." Do you spy the porch rabbit? If you're lucky enough to be invited, keep an eye out for the collection of stone and porcelain animals that starts on the porch and continues throughout the house.
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Owners Jamie McAdams and Shawn Aversa and their three, "four-legged children," Max, Miss Missy and Miss Penny (left to right) enjoying the breezy front porch on a hot day.
A Pittsburgh Home for Collecting & Entertaining on Design*Sponge
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There's nothing shy about the entrance to "McVersa Manor," a contrast of historic details with the bright, bold wallpaper by Emily Isabella. An Empire-style mirror and plant stand act as a catch-all for functional keys, while directing the eye to the antique skeleton keys decorating the entrance to the butler's pantry.
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The space under the stairs was originally a second entrance and washroom. In the height of Pittsburgh's steel industry days, residents would use that sink to wash off coal dust before entering the home. Jamie and Shawn converted the entrance into a powder room and commissioned a local craftsman to create the door to match the existing curved archway. The previous homeowner had already restored the oak paneling details with dental tools (I repeat, DENTAL TOOLS!).
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The powder room features a line of Rifle Paper Co. Pineapple Wallpaper Shawn and Jamie carry in their shop and a mirror from a dear friend who wanted to find a good home for her heirloom. Shawn and Jamie salvaged the vintage Art Deco porcelain sconces from their rustic family cabin in rural Pennsylvania.
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Many, many layers of paint from previous owners made for a painstaking removal process, but Jamie and Shawn restored the Butler's Pantry cabinetry to its original wood and sourced the appropriate hardware from eBay. The Rifle Paper Co. Yellow Peonies Wallpaper in the cabinetry mirrors the perpendicular wall, and the vintage collections featuring agrarian scenes make for a thematic transition to the kitchen.
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Shawn called the kitchen the "heart and piéce de résistance of the home!" When it came down to opening a shop or renovating the kitchen, the pair chose to open Von Walter & Funk, and in the meantime, they're taking plenty of time to understand how best to use the space before remodeling it.
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The Butler's Pantry connects directly to the dining room by way of the original swinging door and reveals the seriousness of the couple's passion for entertaining. Their Karges table can seat up to 14 dinner guests comfortably on their collection of vintage chairs. The duo struck gold at an estate sale in the form of the handwoven blue Persian rug that balances the warmth of the streaming sunlight and creamy yellow walls. The ceiling wallpaper is by Bradbury.
A Pittsburgh Home for Collecting & Entertaining on Design*Sponge
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Adding to the old-world feel, the corner features an original 1930s working Philco radio, on which Jamie and Shawn have programmed several local radio stations. The sound can travel freely past the pocket doors and entertain living room guests, too.
A Pittsburgh Home for Collecting & Entertaining on Design*Sponge
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Shawn and Jamie have everything to keep their parties going. The libations are new, but the mixers from local soda company Natrona Bottling Co. fit right into the feel of the antique buffet and vintage bar wares.
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The afternoon light and fresh floral scents make an ideal nap room for Miss Penny. Shawn and Jamie offer floral services at their boutique, Von Walter & Funk, so there are always extras to feature throughout the home, with the occasional clippings from their gardens.
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The living room mantel features Shawn's collection of porcelain dogs and more of his floral handiwork. Despite the formal qualities of the room, no corner is too precious for their pooches. Shawn said, "it's a free-range democracy here, and nothing is off limits for our four-legged children."
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The far set of steps leading to the second floor had once been hidden, but a closer inspection of the kitchen pantry revealed the surprise. Shawn and Jamie restored what had once been the servants' staircase, unearthing the original stairs that had been untouched since 1920. They also discovered the original bannister and hardware hiding in the basement rafters. Today, the two stairwells make for lots of exercise for their fur babies.
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At the far end of the hall is this guest bedroom with yet another estate sale Persian rug score, the original hand-painted wallpaper and glimpses of the antique mirror collection.
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The IKEA bed frame fits right into the assortment of vintage textiles and patterns in the guest room. The mantel features the owners' collection of ornamental woodwinds.
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Max likes to think the guest room, with its layering of vintage quilts, exists just for his afternoon naps.
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The focal point of the master suite is the exposed brick and tiled fireplace featuring more collectibles and plants on the mantel. Plants play heavily into the decor, in what Shawn calls "an effort to bridge the gap between what we love about our home and our love of nature."
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Originally a nursery, Shawn repurposed this room into his dressing room, complete with a classic Eastlake vanity to keep all his favorite apothecary items in their place. The calming blue color is Sea Glass by Behr.
A Pittsburgh Home for Collecting & Entertaining on Design*Sponge
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Comments

  • I wished we had kept our home in Highland Park…I can’t believe what it just sold for! Thanks Google and Uber! Happy Nesting…I love this neighborhood!

  • Be still my heart. Someone who loves wallpaper as much as I do! (We have the same paper in our entryway, just in a different colorway.) Absolutely perfect. Well done! It’s homey, it looks like it’s filled with love, and it oozes character and charm. The sweet dogs are lucky to be living in such a wonderful space!

  • Oh wow, Shawn and Jamie ROCK – we love working with them! Such a beautiful, cozy, personality-filled home (and shop) and they sure do make our wallpapers look SOOOO good. Congrats, you guys!

  • Your home is as charming as you both are. Love it all, but especially the porch.

    Donna from Queen Anne’s Lace

  • Quelcy, I took a quick look at your own website and journal. WOW! you are one talented person. I love your food styling and the wonderful worlds you create for photos. Grace has enriched our lives by including you on this blog, and I look forward to seeing more of you here.

  • Thank you so much for sharing your amazing home !

    I live in a rowhouse, with way too much staircases, and I was looking for inspiration to paint it. Now I’m thinking about wallpapering it !

  • this”

    grand old

    This “grand old lady ” must be very happy with her new caretakers! Lovely job and the “fur babies” are adorable!

  • Our home is of similar age and style and I am so full of happy right now from this post! Thank you for sharing and can’t wait to follow Shawn and Jamie (in a non-creepy way, haha).

  • Pittsburgh is home and I had no idea this shop was here. Eeee! Planning a trip. Also always love the homes of people addicted to hospitality. I love feeding people and making them happy and love other people who do too!

  • Well! This house is ridiculously beautiful and man does that wallpaper make me happy. And the floral arrangements!

  • I would love to know if the tile in any of the fireplaces is Trent Tile! Did any of the fireplace tile have to be replaced (and where did you source it)?? It is gorgeous!

  • My husband and I used to own the building Von Walter is in. Oh the stories we could tell of that street and the business that was there. How things have changed. You should check out my old home 5220 Butler Street. Might make a nice feature for Design Sponge. Good work Von Walter & Funk

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