Leanne Ford Shaffer, one half of the dynamic design house ACRE Goods + Services, offers her sage advice on home remodeling and interior design
BY LIZ PETONIAK
PHOTOGRAPH FROM JOSHUA BLACK WILKINS
“If you feel good in your space, it pushes out to everywhere else. You leave your house, and you feel better; you come home, and you feel great. Your space makes such an important difference in your attitude,” says Leanne Ford Shaffer.
The stylist and her husband, Brad, formed the creative company ACRE Goods + Services. Leanne shares those wise words with me as she rides in a taxi to a current project, the Todd Snyder + Champion City Gym pop-up store in New York City. In addition to designing the shop, which has caught the attention of pubs like The New York Times and GQ Magazine, the Shaffers have also been working closer to home on the interior of a client’s Victorian-era house and a restaurant space in Regent Square. Leanne and Brad have lived everywhere from Nashville, Tenn., to Bangkok, Thailand, but it wasn’t until they returned to their home city of Pittsburgh that everything came together. Three months after they married, the newlyweds bought an old schoolhouse in Sewickley and gutted it completely.
A book that Leanne’s father used to read, Acres of Diamonds, which warns against the folly of ignoring the treasure that lies in our own backyards, inspired the company name — and, it seems, the couple’s ambitious home project. The DIY renovation took more than two years. In the end, the pair seamlessly meshed antique with contemporary to create a distinctly “of-the-moment” Americana aesthetic that garnered the attention of Country Living Magazine. Leanne attributes the success of the project to “understanding the space and how to bring the best out of it.”
How can we emulate the Shaffers’ style in our own renovations? Leanne offers a few suggestions. First off, leave the plumbing and electric work to the professionals; know that finishing your bedroom first will allow you to retreat from the mayhem just by shutting the door; and, always remember that high-sheen paints, especially in white, can bring a modern feel to any room. For those more focused on re-decorating, she points out that simply rearranging the furniture that you already have can make a space feel entirely new. “Just don’t be afraid. The fear of failure inhibits creativity in all pursuits. So, you can’t be afraid to mess up or rearrange again,” she says. “Honestly, when you see something that stands out to you in a catalogue or magazine, it’s because they’ve done something to ‘break the rules.’ The things we find interesting are the things that we would be normally nervous to do ourselves.”
With that, we say, get inspired, go forth, and have no fear!