PITTSBURGH — The Lawrenceville home of Popie and Joe Geever is a kaleidoscope of kitsch, color and collectibles.
“It’s like living in a work of art,” says photographer Ed Freeman, who is enamored with the home’s unique style.
Mrs. Geever is its creative force, treating her home like a collage. Nearly every available space from floor to ceiling is occupied with what some would call creative clutter, a delicate balance of heirlooms, collections and things that have meaning for the couple.
“I’m a minimalist,” says Mr. Geever, a former middle school teacher and magician.
“It’s true,” his wife says, laughing.
She has been in the 2,000-square-foot house for 19 years and was living there when she met him. Mr. Geever’s contribution is a large fish tank used as a headboard in their bedroom — “It’s very relaxing,” she says — and a koi pond in the backyard garden.
“We spend a lot of time out there in the summer and the fall,” Mrs. Geever says. “It’s a wonderful little place with the lights at night.”
Adding to the light show is a kitschy blinking peacock that she bought on one of their early dates at a Highland Park rummage sale. He wasn’t sure about it at first.
“After she fixed it and the lights started working, I just point it out to everybody,” he says.
Both are homebodies who enjoy entertaining among the things they love. Her knack for layering and combining textures adds a coziness to each room.
Mrs. Geever calls her decorating style “stream of consciousness.” She loves nature and arranges birds, flowers and color the way she sees them in the landscape.
“I think this is the ultimate recycling,” she says, adding that most people’s tastes have become so vanilla and homogenized.
Questions like “What about dusting?” really get under her skin. “That just drives me crazy!”
“This is about us,” she says. “I love when people get it.”
When they ask her for tips, she advises: “Ask yourself ‘What do I love?’ and go from there.”
Mrs. Geever says she has removed some items because they were planning to move but decided to stay. During a tour of the second floor, she points to a portrait her stepfather, Andor Paposi-Jobb, painted of her when she was 18.
“It was downstairs for ages, but I really wanted to bring it up because I was doing this red and blue theme,” she explains.
The bathroom is her favorite room because it contains a unusual collection. “This is my bizarre doll hand collection. I collect doll’s faces … everything.”
Mr. Geever labels his wife’s style eclectic. “I personally don’t see it as bizarre or strange.”
Growing up in Greece, London and Pittsburgh, Mrs. Geever developed a love for various cultures and objects that define them. A visitor’s eye travels throughout the home, always landing on something interesting, beautiful and/or entertaining.
“I really just choose pieces that speak to me.”
Even though there are thousands of things on display, she can immediately identify where and when she got each one. A chunk of Irish peat lies on a small shelf beneath a photo and a painting of an Irish cottage; both were souvenirs from a trip she and her husband took to the Emerald isle.
“It’s about what do I want to see every day?”
In the dining room hangs a portrait of her mother and her stepfather done by family friend Jack Sheffler. Nearby are a collection of locks and keys and an arrangement of Mrs. Geever’s sketches and photos. A guest room on the third floor holds baby pictures and twin beds with pineapple finials that belonged to her mother as a child.
“I think this is more how people used to decorate their homes,” she says. “You had things that were passed down, and there was meaning.
“I think I just live in a different time.”
Information from: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, http://www.post-gazette.com