It’s In the Details: 20 of Leanne Ford’s Low-Key Power Moves
Bold swaths of black and white are boss, but we’re equally in love with the subtler genius of Leanne’s accessories and finishing touches. Here are our all-time favorites.
Photo By: Jeff Swensen/Getty Images
Photo By: Jeff Swensen/Getty Images
The Fords sledgehammered through wall after wall to give this Victorian the new floor plan it desperately needed. Its sweetest new feature, on the other hand, was quite literally "buried on an estate somewhere in Ohio." Leanne found these vintage doors for just $30, and Steve rebuilt them to weather exposure to the outdoors. Well done, team.
This once-awkward former kitchen addition bore little resemblance to the rest of the Fords' clients' home. Leanne gave the room just a touch of character by adding rough ceiling beams to give the space the historic feel of the rest of the house.
It’s unlikely that Willy Guhl (a midcentury Swiss designer known for his shapely concrete planters) imagined that one of his pieces would make its way to a Pittsburgh powder room. Therein lies the magic of Leanne’s relationship with her plumber: they both love country music, and they’ll both turn anything into a sink.
Because her clients' kitchen was to be ultra-minimalist, Leanne knew that "pieces that do come in have to be wowser." Accordingly, she stocked their shelves with handmade, one-of-a-kind plates, bowls and vases.
Leanne knew textured grey surfaces would catch her clients' eyes, but just any grey wouldn’t do — so she chose a subtle but sophisticated Roman clay treatment for the kitchen walls and an ever-so-subtly-contrasting grey lime wash for its exposed brick.
Reviving a "Dead Zone"
This living-room corner was utterly overlooked until Leanne commissioned a custom china cabinet to turn it into a focal point. Said focal point just happens to echo the strong vertical lines in both the windows beyond it and the exterior doors beside it.
Leanne commissioned her friend, artist Sarah Warda, to create an architectural pendant light that would create visual interest from the great room’s first and second stories. The piece itself is little more than whisper-thin tubes and simple fixtures, but as Leanne puts it, it "take[s] up some real estate in your eyeballs."
Half the Price, Twice the Look
When a big-ticket budget tweak nixed Leanne’s bespoke-cabinetry dreams, she kicked her game up a notch. These prefab (and more cost-conscious) pieces give the feel of a single, contiguous panel, thanks to the crafty application of vertical facing.
High-Concept Dumpster Dive
Steve was content to cover the support beams in this wide-open space with drywall, but Leanne knew it could be a key enhancement to the home’s modern-ski-lodge vibe. She pushed her brother to offer up joists he’d scavenged from another job, and presto: instant atmosphere.
Bringing the Eye Up
Leanne took white subway tile in a sleek new direction (literally) — and gave this kitchen a satisfying note of character — by giving her materials a 90-degree turn and installing them vertically.
Less Is More
The key to the transition between this living room and sunroom is what isn’t there: Leanne and Steve removed extraneous framing around the fireplace to encourage visitors to head on back to the once-forgotten space behind it.
The story behind the stained-glass window in this eclectic arrangement is even lovelier than its looks: it was rescued from the now-closed restaurant where Leanne and Steve’s clients shared their first kiss. Understatement of the year: This reveal was emotional.
The graceful text that edges the far side of this dramatic indoor swimming spot is much more than ornamentation. It reads "live your life" in Telugu, a primary language in parts of India, and the couple who call this space home had the phrase made permanent in matching tattoos on their last trip there.
DIY as Decor
Leanne joined forces with Josefina, her clients’ young daughter, to crank out some old-school spin art. She then transformed and enlarged the result to create a graphic piece for their fireplace.
When your client gives you unrestricted access to her treasure trove of antique equipment, why, you turn a tub accessory into showstopping sink basin, of course. Once again, Leanne’s partnership with her plumber yielded design gold.
A Kitchen With History
Leanne considered resurfacing her client’s kitchen sink, but its patina was far too lovely to rehab. She emphasized its well-loved surface with handmade, perfectly-imperfect tiles above the stove. "This is a cottage," she explained. "I want some magic touches."
True story: You can perform a Leanne Ford power move in less than a minute. Grab that ornate rug you’d been planning to roll out... and let the underside face upward, for a faded and more textural effect.
Privacy With Plants
This hundred-year-old home was full of potential and engulfed in gloom, as curtains on its ample windows blocked both prying eyes and much-needed light. Leanne sent the window treatments packing, then replaced them with some crafty landscaping. Voila! A much happier home.
Bringing the Outdoors In
Leanne wanted to stay true to this 1919 home’s roots with "new lighting that feels classic but actually lights the room." The sweet spot: These outdoor sconces for the hallway, which give the homeowners their desired mix of rustic and midcentury vibes (and, yes, actually light the room).
Steve worried that using marble at the foot of this fireplace would inevitably end in the heartbreak of stains. Leanne begged to differ: "Stained marble with soot and fire on it," she said, "is going to be GORGEOUS." Never change, Leanne.