Shannon & Dean Create a Contemporary Farmhouse

Shannon & Dean Create a Contemporary Farmhouse

Abby Cook
Dec 16, 2011

Name: Dean and Shannon Acheson + their three lovely kids + Penny the dog
Location: Ajax, Ontario
Size: 3 bedroom, 1050 square feet
Years lived in: 2 — owned

The Acheson family moved into this suburban bungalow two years ago to cut down on Dean's work commute. The space is modest for an active family of five, but Dean and Shannon have embraced the coziness and maximized the functionality of the home, creating a place where their family and friends love to gather and where they can showcase their DIY and design talents.

Although the back room addition was already built when the bunch first moved in, the general condition and appeal of the rest of the house left much to be desired. With a lot of hard work and creativity, the couple has really transformed the entire home. Dean, a sheet metal worker, and Shannon, a former graphic designer turned homeschooling momma, tackle each project together, contributing their complementary skills to the task at hand. The ongoing home improvement projects inspired Shannon to begin a blog, {aka}|design, to document their progress. The blog is a great resource for DIY inspiration and ideas on how to approach projects around the house without breaking the bank.

On the day of our photo shoot, the Acheson home was all decked out for Christmas, but it's plain to see that it is filled with warmth and good cheer through every season of the year.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Vintage Industrial Farmhouse or Up-cycled Industrial Farmhouse

Inspiration: A LOT of online blogs, google image search, pinterest.

Favorite Element: The huge back room with all of its windows is INCREDIBLE!

Biggest Challenge: With no basement or garage we have to be really creative.

What Friends Say: What an incredible change! I'm sure they thought we were NUTS when we bought the house.

Biggest Embarrassment: No idea!

Proudest DIY: Everything. We have DIY'd so much I can't choose.

Biggest Indulgence: For the house? Um, oooh, our West Elm white pintuck duvet cover. LOVE it!

Best Advice: Start with the basics. Really. Tidy, declutter and organize. Then pick one piece you love - a couch, a piece of art, etc. - and go from there.

Dream Sources: Restoration Hardware. Love their stuff, but their price tags are a little beyond this suburban, mainly one-income family!

Resources of Note:


    • Bedroom: The wall paint is PPG's Scotch Mist and the trim is Behr's Swiss Coffee. The stencil on the walls was created by painting Swiss Coffee over the Scotch Mist using Royal Design Studio's Moorish Trellis Stencil.
    • Dining room & Living Room: Trim work is Behr Swiss Coffee. Walls are Sherwin Williams Analytical Grey. The gorgeous French poem on the wall behind the hutch is Royal Design Studio's Springtime in Paris painted in black over the Analytical Grey.
    • Kitchen: PPG's Scotch Mist on the walls and the trim is Behr's Swiss Coffee. Kitchen cabinets and countertops are from Home Depot.
    • Front Hall: The wall colour is CIL Wexford Fog.


    • Hooks, coat rack and shoe shelves (actually a tv media stand): all Ikea


    • White Shag Area Rug: Home Depot
    • Couch and Chair: Leon's from years ago
    • Coffee table: Crafter's Marketplace but refinished by us (added beadboard and repainted to hide heart cutouts)
    • End tables: Ikea
    • Armoire: from a friend, painted by us, hardware from Lee Valley Tools
    • Ottoman: DIY by us
    • Slipper Chairs: The Brick
    • Ceiling light: Home Depot
    • Table lamps: Homesense and Goodwill (which we spray painted)
    • Bookshelf lights: Ikea
    • Curtains: George by Walmart. We customized some to make them longer.
    • Artwork: Banner from Funkyshique. Book page art, me.


    • The window trim and baseboards were here. The faux board and batten we put up - it adds so much to the space and it was so easy and inexpensive!
    • The floors in the dining and living room are from Lumber Liquidators - Dream Home - St. James  12mm Burnet Road Russet Laminate. There is no quarter round in this room yet, but you can't tell in pics unless you shoot straight down at the wall. :)
    • Desk: Dean and a coworker (for the welding) built
    • French desk chair: Kijiji
    • Dining table: Dean built from legs from an old table and wood from a pallet. I painted and refinished it.
    • Chairs: originally from Idomo, refinished by me.
    • Buffet and hutch: Hutch was from a coworker of Dean's (originally Sears), buffet was dresser from Kijiji. All refinished by us.
    • Banquette: Dean built, I painted and finished.
    • Ceiling light: Kijiji. But it can be purchased at Home Depot for twice what we paid on Kijiji.
    • Desk light: Ikea
    • Accessories: Various places including Homesense, Bouclair, thrift stores, IKEA, online shops.
    • Artwork: Mostly me. The family canvas was from a Homesav daily sale.


    • There is no baseboard in here yet. The crown moulding is from Home Depot, the window trim is original to the house.
    • Headboard: DIY
    • Dresser: Ikea
    • Blanket Box/Filing cabinet: roadside rescue DIY
    • Stepback cupboard: Dean's first DIY years ago
    • Beautiful white French chair: Dolled Up Living
    • Clay knobs on stepback: Etsy's VintageSkye
    • Nightstand: from the now defunct Crafter's Marketplace
    • Lamps: Home Depot
    • Blinds: Bouclair
    • Sheers: Surefit Outlet, Ajax
    • Accessories: The Pintuck duvet cover and shams are from West Elm - who I must say were darlings and after a simple phone call shipped them to me from the Toronto store overnight. The throw pillows were all made by me. Other accessories - various places like Homesense.
    • Artwork: The banner is from Funkyshique (Etsy shop). The Pottery Barn-esque numbers canvas is a knock-off I painted.

Thanks, Acheson Family!

Images: Abby Cook

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