Farm House Fresh

Leanne Ford plays with texture and contrast—and embraces an (almost) all-white palette—in her newly renovated home.

White and Wood Portrait
Photography by NICOLE FRANZEN

Leanne Ford is her own best test case. “I have all these wild, weird ideas that I can’t necessarily get clients to jump off on,” says the Los Angeles–based interior designer. Some of these experiments have been captured as part of HGTV’s new series Restored by the Fords, featuring Ford and her brother, Steve, a renovation project manager, as they renovate quirky old properties in their hometown of Pittsburgh. “I love run-down places. I feel a responsibility to keep them alive,” says Ford. (Her flair for interiors was no doubt honed during her many years as a fashion, advertising, and celebrity stylist, as well as a creative consultant for such companies as Hollister.)

On Ford: Top by Isabel Marant; Skirt by Ronen Chen; SHOES by Alaïa

White Office
Photography by NICOLE FRANZEN

White-on-white adds to the airy feel of Ford’s office nook, while also having a dramatic effect. 

Tejn Lambskin Rug $15; Vintage Chair from Garden Style Living

White Staircase
Photography by NICOLE FRANZEN

One recent rehab is Ford’s 1945 farmhouse, which she filled with one-of-a-kind pieces and where she tried out some new design ideas. Many led to stylish discoveries, like placing custom concrete vanities under the bathroom windows to maximize space and highlight the view, or trying not to use chrome or silver anywhere in the house as a challenge “just for kicks,” Ford says, adding: “That was actually harder than I expected.” She even kept the stucco—that much-maligned, seemingly outdated texture. “It’s really special and pretty when painted.” 

Pendant Light from Dekor & Co.

Taupe and White Entryway
Photography by NICOLE FRANZEN

The different vignettes in Ford’s home show the versatility of her favorite shade. 

Tejn Lambskin Rug $15; Vintage Chair from Tri-State Antiques

Bronze and White Living room
Photography by NICOLE FRANZEN

A common theme is Ford’s love of white—from the painted vintage briquettes in the kitchen and living room to the master bathroom shower curtain made from an old ship’s sail. “White is the silence between the chords, the pause in the poem,” she explains. “It can be taken in any direction.” The color acts as a calming unifier in the eclectic space.  

White and Wood Dining room
Photography by NICOLE FRANZEN

It’s also the best canvas for showcasing the organic and textural elements Ford gravitates toward, especially wood. Rather than sticking to one finish or veneer, she prefers different surfaces and details that blend together as they might in nature. A standout is the hemlock platform bed Leanne and Steve made by lining up massive 8-by-10 slabs they obtained from a local supplier. (Lesson learned from the experiment: Next time she’ll hollow them out. “They were so heavy!” she exclaims.)  

Brown and White Study
Photography by NICOLE FRANZEN

Brass fixtures in the kitchen and bathroom and an artful collection of cream accessories and found treasures—tchotchkes, antiques, mini busts, and signs placed throughout the rooms—further warm up the space. The only contrast is black, which adds “a masculine finish” to pieces like the backgammon set and barware on display. While the monochrome palette might seem like a design challenge to most, Ford says, “There is nothing better than different shades of white all together.” 

White and Wood Bedroom
Photography by NICOLE FRANZEN

For the charcoal mountain scene in her bedroom, she asked her friend Alexandra Gracik to draw on a canvas. The caption beneath reads: “Forever wandering in my soul, the quiet grounds me, love always.” 

Hanging Lamp from Big Daddy’s Antiques; Table Lamp from Garden Style Living; Vintage Linen Duvet Cover by Matteo Home from $234; Vintage Linen Bedding by Matteo Home from $31

Gold and Taupe and White Bathroom
Photography by NICOLE FRANZEN
Gold and White Bathroom
Photography by NICOLE FRANZEN

"I want to be able to have the space feel bright and clean during the day, and warm and moody at night."

White Hallway
Photography by NICOLE FRANZEN
Taupe and White Closet
Photography by NICOLE FRANZEN

Ford layers a pale palette in inspired ways, like repurposing a ship’s sail into a shower curtain and artfully displaying her collection of vintage dresses. 

Gold and White Bedroom
Photography by NICOLE FRANZEN

Hanging Light Fixture from Tri-State Antiques; Brass Mirror from Garden Style Living; Shelving Unit from Garden Style Living

Bronze and White Kitchen
Photography by NICOLE FRANZEN

Ford rarely uses window treatments. “It’s a shame to cover up sunlight and the views outside,” says the designer, who kept things simple and bright in the kitchen and dining room. Another tip: having texture on the ceiling. “It’s a forgotten space but just as important as the walls.”

Cabinet Bar Pulls by Lewis Dolin each $16

White and Wood Kitchen
Photography by NICOLE FRANZEN

Large Mirror from Garden Style Living; Assorted Cutting Boards from Garden Style Living

Brown and White Dining room
Photography by NICOLE FRANZEN

"I use white to showcase and highlight everything else in and about a room.” 

Vintage Russell Woodard Chairs; Koldby Cowhide by Ikea $199

Gray and White Bathroom
Photography by NICOLE FRANZEN

Brass fixtures, raw materials like cement, and darker accents, such as a large-format black-and-white photograph, ground the space.    

Iselin Steiro by Diego Uchitel from $750; Nouveau Flat Top Freestanding Bathtub by Americh International

Published on April 01, 2017 - 6:00am EDT

Next Story

The Biggest Design Trends to Watch for in 2019

Get the lowdown on colors, materials, and ideas we'll be bringing home.

Read Next Story
from around the web