"The urban experience is closing in on my little farm," Dan Aykroyd says of the land in Canada that has been in his family for generations. "Kingston--the nearest town--is getting bigger, but it's still a place where my family can be safe." Although the farmhouse Aykroyd says is haunted has a special meaning to him, the actor left the decorating decisions to his wife, actress Donna Dixon. Designer Craig Wright vividly remembers his first meeting with Dixon, who recently played Garth's dream girl in Wayne's World. "She drew up in a long chauffeured car and slowy alighted, a tall blond beauty in a black dress, and said, "I've been told that I should hire you," he recalls. "Decorating is easy for me, and working with Craig was like a hand fitting in a glove," says Dixon. Aykroyd, who is excited about the fact that there is a forge on the property and that the house is now habitable, has been busy with two new movies: Sneakers, with Robert Redford and Sidney Poitier, and Charlie, Richard Attenborough's film about Charlie Chaplin, in which he plays Mack Sennett.
With his wife, actress Donna Dixon, and their daughter, Danielle, Dan Aykroyd surveys the land in Canada that has been in his family since 1826. "The General," a 1941 Buick similar to Eisenhower's staff car during World War II, is part of the actor's classic-car collection
The farmhouse was completely rebuilt by designer Craig Wright, who worked with Donna Dixon on decorating the interiors. "Doing this farmhouse was about re-creating another time, when things were simpler and safer," he says. An area at the rear of the house was intended for storing outdoor clothing. At right is an old surveyor's instrument.
Wright, who spent his childhood summers in a lakeside cabin, used plaid and chintz fabrics and pine to make the kitchen a warm gathering spot, complete with a leather chair in front of the hearth. The Craftsman chandelier is from Newel Art Galleries.
Dixon, who composed a story for each room, calls the study, the "professor's parlor." The books and typewriter belong to the imaginary professor. His wife embellished the room with a French table, a wicker armchair and a ruby-glass oil-lamp base, all from Quartrain. Wallcovering by Osborne & Little.
Wright added a bay window to the master bedroom and draped it with antique fabrics. "It's the tension between the professor's masculine things and his wife's refined tastes that defines the house," he says. The Victorian armchair and wicker table are from Quatraine. Chintz upholstery fabric from Cowan & Tout.
The screen porch was renovated and the fireplace added to "remove the chill on summer evenings," says Wright. The designer recalls being invited by the Aykroyds to swim in the lake. "They said the water was like silk. It was fine as soon as my heart starting beating again," Wright says. The furnishings include an American bent-slat armchair, foreground, antique wicker and a miniature table for the Aykroyd's daughter.
The Aykroyds use the porch during the summer for dining and conversation. The child's spaceship/automobile, from Newel Art Galleries, was used on the set of the film Arthur. Beyond the porch, the lawn is where a circular bonfire is built in the evenings, and everyone congregates to tell ghost stories. The land falls away down to a 23-mile lake, where they jet-ski or picnic on the islands.
The pioneer eastern Ontario farmhouse, with screen porch at right, sits on a knoll. "Dan is the sixth generation to have trod the land," says his father, Peter. The actor's favorite room is one of the upper gabled bedrooms, called the "ghost room," which was the inspiration for the film Ghostbusters. "That's where the most apparitions have been seen and where family seances have been held," says Aykroyd."