We know Leanne Ford as the crazy-cool designer who specializes in all-white interiors—this light-drenched midcentury oasis proves she has a knack for neutrals—so we were surprised to see the star of HGTV's popular Restored by the Fords (now in its second season) step outside of her typically tonal palette to embrace the dark side for her latest project in Pittsburgh.
"This was a fun project for two very fashionable guys that have great taste," Ford tells me via email. "They love gray, which is not my normal go-to color. So I loved pushing myself to play with how you decorate with gray but still keep things feeling natural and earthy. We found this amazing lime wash and clay wash from Portola Paints that we used on the brick, walls, and ceiling."
Step inside the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania apartment (originally built in 1880) to see the moody transformation then tune into HGTV to hear more from Ford and the owners of the space tonight.
The biggest challenge of this project was the kitchen. "It was a massive undertaking," says Ford. "The clients had a row style home in the city which had an apartment built on the back side of it. It was very piece-y and a massive waste of space." So Ford broke into the back apartment to create a large entertainer's kitchen and then completely gutted the entire space. This included new floors (they brought in salvage wood,) new electrical, new plumbing, and new supports in the ceiling. "You name it, we had to fix it," she recalls.
One of the kitchen's main features is the distressed flooring. Ford actually brought in salvage wood for the floors to truly give that time-worn patina. She also splurged on the gorgeous marble counter and waterfall.
Ford says the biggest design decision was putting the entire kitchen down the center of the space. "Kind of the opposite of the galley kitchen," she says. "The windows were low and so gorgeous, I did not want to mess with them."
The existing marble fireplace was also stunning, so Ford didn’t want to touch that either, even if it did feel unique to have at the back of a kitchen. "We had the space to play with," she says. "And the layout also created this amazing party bar style kitchen for entertaining."
Ford added a bathroom where the old kitchen was, using salvage doors from France which they hung backwards so you could really enjoy the "more beautiful side" more often when the door was open. But the standout design feature is the sink. Ford used a vintage Willy Guhll planter which she retrofitted to be a sink. "I love playing with design in the powder room," she says. They also chose to keep the pipes exposed for the waterlines as an added design feature.
Because of the massive counter space, Ford opted to create a little lounging coffee nook in the corner of the kitchen instead of a kitchen table. (They already had a proper dining room in the house.) "I love how that nook turned out," says Ford. "Very vibey."
True to Ford's eclectic style and love of found objects, she used old backdrop sets from an opera in Europe as the minimalist art for this cozy nook. Genius.