This Kardashian Stylist’s L.A. Home Got the Leanne Ford Treatment
It all started with an Instagram DM.
Published Mar 12, 2022 1:45 AM
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Dani Michelle, the celebrity fashion stylist whose client roster includes Kourtney Kardashian, Kendall Jenner, and Kristin Cavallari, always says that if she didn’t dress people, she’d dress spaces. “It’s just the same: finding balance between tones, textures, and proportions,” she explains. Michelle got a taste of interiors when the pandemic hit and the pro she had hired to help her renovate and decorate her 2,500-square-foot Los Angeles home decided to leave California partway through the project to return to her hometown of Pittsburgh. Ring a bell? If you guessed her designer was Leanne Ford, our spring 2020 cover star, you’d be right.
“You won’t believe it, but I direct messaged her,” recalls Michelle. Before she and her fashion photographer husband, Ian Morrison, bought their house in June 2019 (only two weeks after their wedding), they had become avid HGTV watchers—Restored by the Fords was one of their favorite binges. “We just got it. Her use of white, textures, vintage, tones, and vibe was everything we wanted,” she adds. So when the couple finally found this four-bedroom gem with light pouring in from every window after nearly two years of house hunting, Michelle knew right away it had the potential to be something special. She reached out to Ford to turn it into a Mediterranean-inspired oasis for their growing family (the pair recently welcomed a son, Madx).
Today “the only thing that’s the same are the floors,” notes Michelle, along with the circa-1952 layout. Instead, they focused on elevating the finishes in the space, with help from contractor Kolin Klein. Ford introduced tons of stone to the main entry, swathing the surface in what’s become her signature treatment: white sanded grout. “It was a concept we saw she did previously and we begged her to find a place for it in our home,” shares Michelle.
The process, which the designer’s brother, Steve Ford, has perfected, involves applying the mixture randomly over a section of the wall, then using a sponge to remove any excess clumps. You can also move the material around with a paintbrush to achieve different types of patterns before coating everything with a quality concrete sealer. For an additional hint of grit, they clad the nearby living room fireplace in oxidized steel sheets, making the surround look older than it really is.
The other telltale sign that Ford was here? The Surecrete-covered built-in bench that runs from the hallway into the dining area. The designer has been known to use the skim coating to disguise dated bathroom tiles in the past, but here it transports guests from L.A. to Mykonos. “The craziest part of this renovation is that we did it during the pandemic,” says Michelle. “We lived through it all, doing dishes in the shower and living only in our bedroom.”
When Ford and her family picked up and left the West Coast, Michelle didn’t panic—her designer never felt too far away. “I made sure not to bug her, but anytime I was in a total predicament, I knew I could tap her for her opinion,” she notes. Downstairs in the cozy den, Michelle and Morrison leaned into their love for all things black with RH’s fan-favorite Cloud Couch. Ford weighed in with the giant orb light.
It was while renovating the kitchen that the couple had their biggest “what do we do” moment. The dilemma: They wanted to combine black and white countertops for a high-contrast look, but weren’t sure how to execute the plan given the worktop was one continuous L-shape. “We thought about disconnecting them, until one morning my husband woke up with the solution to raise [the peninsula] 5 inches into a bar feeling,” explains Michelle. The pair made four trips to the stone yard until they found leather soapstone and fell literally in love (there’s actually a heart shape in the stone). The split dishwasher from Fisher & Paykel was a functional decision. “The top and bottom run on separate drawers so you can run half loads, and I love it!” says Michelle.
Finally, there’s her bread and butter: the closet. “Organization is the only way you can function in a sea of clothes,” says Michelle. Step one was to start with clean lines, so she opted for a completely open system of simple black hanging rods.
From there, Michelle merchandises everything by style and color so it’s easy to scan the space for staples. “One of my secrets is to keep a section of your new favorite pieces that inspire you—these are the pieces you want to be wearing right now,” she reveals. “Then I pull looks from there each day, and the rest is my archive for other occasions and special times.”
Naturally, baby Madx’s closet also got an upgrade. Where there were once mirrored sliding doors, there’s now a custom bookcase-slash-desk and, hidden behind the new chic barn door, hanging space for his mini wardrobe. “I love this room so much,” says Michelle. “I did it myself, and the best part is he has these massive floor-to-ceiling zebra-print Ralph Lauren drapes that warm the whole space.” This might be her best look yet.