I don’t have cable so I didn’t see last night’s episode of Restored by the Fords on HGTV (yet…I plan on watching online tonight), but I did get a sneak peek a few weeks back (and by sneak, I mean like…WHOLE peek, full on look) into this Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, home designed by the kick-butt Leanne Ford and renovated by her brother, Steve Ford. I’ve long had a design girl crush on Leanne and her beautiful monochromatic spaces; that woman knows how to do neutral with serious soul, which is not easy to do, so when she reached out to us to see if we’d be up for sharing this exclusive house tour in conjunction with the episode release, I couldn’t hit the reply button fast enough to pound out an excited “YES” on my keyboard.
“I went to high school with the homeowner, so when he called about having us help with his house, I was determined to try to make it work,” says Leanne about why she took on the project, which involved completely reconfiguring and flipping the floor plan, dealing with exterior walls that were inside (the product of a previous addition), and oh…just about two months to accomplish the whole thing. For each home the Fords restore for the TV show, they “have 6-8 weeks to accomplish a renovation that in real time would probably take about a year. And then you multiply that by the number of projects we are taking on, and things get…crazy.”
Wowza. The construction may have been a time crunch, but the style didn’t suffer one bit, and the entire downstairs (which we’re showing you today) is so warm, inviting and feels like something that’s been there for decades.
Let’s take a tour, guided by Leanne herself (with a little interjection along the way by me), starting right at the front of the home.
“This was a pretty simple fix: pretty paint—creamy white on walls (Sugar Soap in Eggshell by PPG), white on trim (Delicate White in Semi-Gloss by PPG), a vintage carpet from Swoon Rugs, and a new lighting fixture go a long way!”
“We used a lot of vintage rugs throughout the house, mainly from Swoon Rugs, to give the entire place warmth and to tie the rooms all in together.” The wooden console is vintage (just like anything you desperately want usually is) and the basket underneath is positioned to be a big catch-all for the foyer.
Kitchen & Dining Room
Take a left from the foyer and you’ll find yourself in the newly configured kitchen (which was originally in an entirely different place in the house).
“The homeowners had a (very dated) kitchen that was added as an addition years after the original house was there, so it was extremely unattached to the rest of the house. You actually had to weave around multiple rooms to get back there. To add to the fun, the kitchen was also on a level down from the rest of the house and separated by the original home’s exterior wall. Our main vision for the home was to open the floor plan, create better flow, and to respect the traditional style while getting modern amenities in there.”
“We ended up moving the kitchen to the front of the house, in what was originally the living room, which was being extremely underutilized. So now we have this gorgeous fireplace in the kitchen and have opened up walls so you can connect all the way to the back of the house and into the back yard!”
“We put the farm sink in front of the beautiful leaded double windows in the front of the house, which was a bit of a to do to figure out, but so worth it.”
“We wanted the dining room to be an extension of the kitchen so we brought the cabinets all the way down the wall along with a massive range. Something tricky to deal with was that crown molding that was throughout the house. It was original and a huge problem for us because we had to figure out how to recreate it where it was missing. I was NOT going to let that molding go away!”
“We had a gorgeous old built in that we had to move out of the wall to make way for a first-floor laundry, so we salvaged the glass doors and built a new cabinet around them to use in the kitchen/dining. I loved how that turned out!” Uh, us, too, Leanne, us, too.
“The now living room is where the old kitchen was (reminder, it’s at a lower level from the now adjacent dining room). And because we had to keep the step-down, we thought it was smarter to make that a lowered living room than try to confine the entire kitchen in there, and I love how it turned out. We also added the vintage black doors on the back wall (more on that in a bit) and extended a deck into their yard to create a gorgeous indoor/outdoor living space.”
Sofa | Coffee Table (vintage)
“The black doors were a massive to do. I wanted elements of vintage in the house, and we found these amazing, though beat up, doors that I knew we had to use! Problem with them was, everything…we had to replace the glass to be weatherproof exterior glass, we had to beef the doors up so they could live as exterior doors, so we basically overhauled them in every way, while still keeping some of the old texture safe on the inside.”
“My brother thought I was crazy doing this project, but I love how they turned out. I also make it a habit, when painting old doors, to paint right over the textured, old, chippy paint. I do not sand them down, as I want the life to show through them, even if we are giving them a fresh coat!”
“This was the old dining room that kind of became a catch-all for the extras we wanted on the first floor (first-floor laundry, first-floor powder room, mud room, etc.). We even broke through the exterior wall and added another door so the dogs had a place to come in and out of the house. Lucky dogs!”
“We had to rethink the layout of the entire house, in order to use space in a wiser way, which meant we had to move the entire bathroom to the other side of the house in order to keep a better floorplan on their first floor. In general, the whole home is kind of a big surprise. We really did a whammy on this one!”
Thank you again Leanne for sharing this gorgeous home with us here, and if you haven’t checked out this episode (or any!) of Restored by the Fords, head to HGTV for more details.