Pier and Jennifer Giacalone gave up the main bedroom and large attic space in their Doylestown home for what they considered more important endeavors: their teenagers.
Their 16-year-old son, Rolley, needed space for his elaborate music studio. Their 17-year-old son, Ben, who has published two books about Dungeons & Dragons, needed space to write.
“What are you going to do with kids?” Pier said from his living room on a balmy winter morning. “The more room they have, the better it is for us.”
Pier, a music producer, and Jennifer, an author, both work from home. Jennifer, who has published a book of poetry dedicated to Star Trek characters and a 1970s-based detective novel, uses a back room as her office. She is currently working on a screenplay. Her desk overlooks a bucolic back yard.
Pier, who learned to play guitar at age 7 and had gigs in Manhattan in his early 20s, had to temporarily downsize his business, Hopetown Sound, from a 3,000-square-foot commercial recording studio in New Hope to the cozy garage in Doylestown.
“I lost 30%-40% of my business during the pandemic,” he said. “Unfortunately, it has stayed that way.”
The creative family of four had to find the house, a three-story, 2,000-square-foot Colonial near Delaware Valley University, quickly as their home and studio of 14 years in Carversville was sold in 2022 by their landlord. The Doylestown home, owned by a friend in the special-needs community, was enough space for their multitude of creative interests and was the right price.
Hailing from New York, the couple moved to Bucks County in 2008.
“Our oldest was in need of preschool, and it was clear our younger one had needs,” Pier said. “When we landed here, the support was amazing. An [early intervention] team descended on our house.”
And New York City seems undoable for the middle class these days, Pier said.
“We were just priced further and further out,” he said. “She was commuting an hour from the edge of Queens. It’s actually easier to get there from here.”
Their home, painted in gray tones and outfitted with dark wood floors, is filled with more than a dozen guitars and several pieces of art from Pier’s father, who was an art professor at Kean University in North Jersey. Some of the furniture came from his mother’s Lower East Side apartment, which she had since the 1970s.
In the front room, which is flooded with light and anchored by a gray brick fireplace, sit several guitars. One is signed by Zayn, formerly of One Direction fame, and was given to Pier as a Christmas present. Zayn rented Pier’s recording studio in 2017, 2018 and 2021.
“He had an amazing deal with Sony. At the time he came to me, he was taking his time,” he said. “They flew in a lot of celebrity producers from England. A producer from Alicia Keys’ studio in New York also came down.”
Upstairs, Ben, uses his bedroom to play Dungeons & Dragons, write and paint hundreds of game-related figures.
“He has always dabbled in [Dungeons & Dragons] but grew during the pandemic,” his father said. “It was a way for him to be social. They were able to do it online.”
“He had started writing a game but wanted to make a book out of it,” his mother added. “He wanted to control the narrative. He worked for a solid year and didn’t do anything else.”
The books, self-published on Amazon, will probably be a trilogy, his mother said.
“The first one is about heroes; the second one is The Empire Strikes Back of the series as the bad guys are getting ahead,” she said. “He has started the third one.”
Rolley, who has both an encyclopedic memory and intense love of music, has outfitted his own room with several keyboards, one a $2,000 Nord, and an electronic drum set. He taught himself piano playing GarageBand on his iPad at age 8, his father said.
“As a parent of a child with autism, you are always going to worry about what they are going to do as adults. It was always obvious with him it was going to be music,” Pier said. “The silver lining in closing the studio was that instead of putting instruments in storage, I put them in his room and that gave him more access. We made the investment.”
When their children — both students at Central Bucks West — graduate, the couple plans to look for a bigger space, one with a home and an out building for a studio.
“That was our plan all along,” Pier said.
Is your house a Haven? Nominate your home by email (and send some digital photographs) at firstname.lastname@example.org