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Leanne Ford's Restored 1906 Cottage in LA's Echo Park

Take a photo tour of Leanne Ford's vintage cabin, built in the early 1900s and beautifully (though not too “preciously”) restored more than a century later. The woodsy cottage once belonged to one of Hollywood's great silent film stars.

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Photo: Grant Rivera/Apex Studios

Leanne's L.A. Getaway

Restored by a Ford. Just a stone’s throw from Sunset Boulevard and other heavily trafficked LA thruways, Leanne Ford has created a secluded hideaway that juxtaposes a rustic cottage backdrop with a strong artistic sensibility and, just for fun, some retro-futuristic and 1970s design elements thrown in. Like her other residence — a restored schoolhouse outside Pittsburgh — the Echo Park home melds a straight-out-of-the-past vibe with a modern mix-and-match approach to furnishing. It's a compelling visual palette accented by lots of books, art and collectibles — a carefully curated amalgam but one that’s resolutely non-fussy. And as with most of Leanne’s designs, white is an integral element. In this case, however, it’s a very specific shade of white. More on that later.

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In the Wilds of Los Angeles

History Built-In. The four-room house, built in 1906, is reputed to be the first home built in Echo Park and was once owned by silent film star Clara Kimball Young. It was originally used as a hunting cabin and is situated in an area that, at the time the house was built, was remote and undeveloped. Leanne is an avowed tree-lover, and the aged and sprawling rubber tree adjacent to the porch is one of the main reasons she fell in love with the property. For general inspiration she relied on childhood memories of growing up in rural Pennsylvania and summers spent at camp. "I somehow found a summer camp here in Los Angeles," she says. "We really didn't touch the outside. We kept it all nice and old and beat-up."

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Did We Mention Leanne Loves White?

Blurring the Lines. The biggest modifications to the structure were part of a deliberate effort to combine indoor and outdoor spaces, as seen here in the open breezeway that serves as entry to the home. The space, painted all in white, is kept simple and natural with gray flagstone floor, rough wood paneling and exposed beams in distressed whitewash.

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Living Spaces

Timeworn by Design. The restored home, both inside and out, is both stylized and comfortable but would scarcely be termed opulent in a modern sense. It's just a little rough around some edges, and that's part of the point. "This cabin looks older now than it did when I got my hands on it," says Leanne. An old drop ceiling was removed to expose original beams, and wood salvaged from interior demolition was repurposed to create wood paneling. In some places the cracks and rough textures of the reclaimed wood were left visible, and there are places where the dark wood intentionally shows through the white paint.

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