Country Living magazine spotlights couple's Aleppo schoolhouse turned home

Bobby Cherry
| Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013, 8:12 p.m.

Brad Shaffer and Leanne Ford Shaffer live in what has become the Aleppo couple's vacation home away from work.

The designers — who spend much of their time traveling to Los Angeles, New York and other destinations for photo shoots and projects — spent nearly two years redesigning their Glen Mitchell Road home into what Brad Shaffer calls a mix of modern and vintage styles.

“We don't like too much vintage stuff because it feels kind of old,” he said.

The blend of new and vintage went beyond the couple's work styles to encapsulate their home, his wife said.

“It makes it kind of feel not so antique-y, (but) more fresh,” Leanne Ford Shaffer said.

The couple's 1920-built one-room schoolhouse turned home is featured in an eight-page spread in the current edition of Country Living magazine, which is available in print through Sept. 10.

“Our whole thing was to restore it. We've never seen photos of what it used to look like, so we wanted to restore it back to what we felt it kind of looked like,” said Brad Shaffer, the former creative director at South Side-based American Eagle Outfitters.

“Out of the two years we spent fixing it up, we were maybe here half of that time. We kind of kid around now how this is our vacation home.”

Each room of the Shaffer's roughly 1,600-square-foot home was part of the couple's extensive makeover, which included removing a wall in the kitchen and several layers of vinyl flooring to uncover the building's original wooden floors.

A first-floor closet was converted into a powder room, near an open family room with a wood-burning stove surrounded by a mix of furniture and accessories, including two chairs dating to early 1900s France.

Wall storage units were removed and replaced with beds in an upstairs hallway and inside a guest room that serves as an office for the pair's creative design company, Acre Goods + Services.

Leanne Ford Shaffer says her favorite part of the home is a clawfoot tub that shares floor space with an open double-headed shower with a window overlooking a wooded hillside and Glen Mitchell Road.

Exposed beams in the couple's master bedroom offer an open concept and complement the home's slanted roof, giving the space a larger feel.

Antiques and modern pieces accent the home, including the couple's back patio, where an old “Thank you, come again” road sign hangs behind an outdoor seating area.

While the couple has mostly completed their home, sans the garage and landscaping work, their finished design serves as a showpiece for potential clients as the pair seek work with homes, businesses and brands, they said.

“We're done with our home, but there's such amazing furniture out there that doesn't have a place in our house, so it's fun to pass it on,” Leanne Ford Shaffer said.

She found the home in 2010 on Craigslist and within a few days, purchased it, despite both of their families not understanding what the couple saw in the home, they said.

“The appeal was the balance between urban living and rural living,” Brad Shaffer said. “It's awesome when you're working in some city to be able to come back to this.”

But what the couple saw in the home is part of what they consider their “acres of diamonds,” they said, referencing a book of the same name by Russell Conwell describing what people need in life is what's around them. The book title helped give the couple inspiration for the name of their business.

“We've both lived all over, and it wasn't until we came home to our own backyards were these big things able to happen,” said Leanne Ford Shaffer, who grew up in Upper St. Clair. Her husband is from Butler. “I'm all about traveling all over. But it took coming home to get this cool stuff going.”

Bobby Cherry is an associate editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-324-1408 or

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