Leanne ford works from home these days, just like everyone else. But home for Ford means Pittsburgh, as in the whole city and its surroundings.
The interior designer and star of HGTV’s “Restored by the Fords” positions her new season “Home Again with the Fords” as part of a national trend. People across the country are returning to places they grew up in, to be quarantined, work remotely, reconnect and often find better lives.
For Ford and her brother and co-host Steve, it marked a return to the city after living in Los Angeles and elsewhere. And it meant filming their show here, searching through tons of inquiries to find the projects that are the most challenging and engaging.
“My favorite part about the show and in Pittsburgh is that there are so many different styles of architecture,” says Ford. “I love playing with all of them.”
The process begins with homeowners submitting a request to Ford online, telling their story and sharing their dreams. The network is very involved in the selection, says Ford. “Then we look at the room and see if they are on a budget, what their style and inspiration are, and if they match our style. When you work with clients, you need a close connection. Really, basically we are all together. We take it seriously. These are the houses of the people.
“We really dive deep into their aesthetics, how they want to live. I’m asking a shipload of questions. At the end of the day we give the house back to them and they must be delighted. We’ll present them with what we think is the best plan so they know what we’re going to do, but you can never really see it until you see it in person. “
For a North Hills family with a 1960s Spanish flair, the transformation was impressive in the face of their request – they wanted a vacation home for their real home. “The architecture I found was interesting. It felt special and different. The room had some beauty, but it was very dated. We’ve simplified and freshened up the style. “
The result was the carpeting and the metal railing on dark metal stairs, which had a wonderful, curved shape and set the tone for the renovation. A large elevated entrance landing appeared to be in the way but was too expensive to move. The solution was to cover it with beautiful tiles. And the kitchen now feels “a little bit Greece, a little bit Mexico”.
“The house just had to be reinvented. That’s a lot of what it is. Everything was there and told us what to do, “says Ford.” We always have fun building and it makes a big difference to give it a new coat of paint. “
Being back in Pittsburgh didn’t detract from her style. In fact, she says the city is resource-rich. In addition to her brother, Ford uses Williamson Construction for their projects. Their penchant for vintage and salvage has found ample treasure hunting opportunities in places like Construction Junction, FarmHowz, Kinsey Vintage Market, Garden Style Living, Toll Gate Revival, Bass & Bennett, and Weisshouse, which offer found items as well as new furniture and carpets.
Ford also has its own line of table tops, decor and furniture for Crate and Barrel, an elegant selection of modern offerings in neutral tones and an assortment
made of light or dark wood. They’re the kind of thing she likes to use – minimal, organically shaped, and sculptural, and they go well with the textures that are another Ford trademark. The results have brought their legions of fans who can now consult with Ford remotely at theexpert.com for a fee.
“I just think we found a style that many of us appreciate. It’s relatable and warm and artsy, but you still want to jump on the sofa and relax. We put expensive things next to cheap things. We play like that. But at the end of the day I want to inspire people to think differently about their own homes. You don’t have to have a big budget to make a difference. “