Published on December 10, 2020

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If you haven’t heard the news yet, yesterday Domino revealed our Winter Renovation issue cover star: the incomparable Leanne Ford. The magazine hits stands December 22, but on this week’s episode of Design Time (out today on Spotify and Apple Podcasts), the designer is teaming up with last year’s cover star, reno queen Sarah Sherman Samuel, for a symbolic passing of the renovation torch. 

“My favorite thing about my career right now is inspiring others to do their own homes,” Ford tells Samuel. “I feel like the more people love their homes, the happier we’ll be when we leave our homes, right?” The two discuss the unlikely paths that led them to design superstardom, their favorite—and least favorite!—rooms to remodel (hint: it’s where everyone has been spending their time in 2020), and their top tips for aspiring designers. Take a sneak peek at their best pieces of advice, below.

Figure It Out as You Go

Sarah Sherman Samuel: Renovating is the best way to learn. When you’re doing it yourself, you’re so much more into the process that it just feeds into being able to do it for others. The best part is not being pigeonholed. You don’t have to do just one thing; you can go with the flow.
Leanne Ford: Yes! Go with the flow is the right statement. Letting go and letting it happen is the best, best way to design.

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Take a Risk 

Ford: My favorite thing about my career right now is inspiring others to do their own homes. I can’t go into everybody’s houses, but I can help you with ideas. In the room I’m in right now, I took coffee and rubbed it on the walls and it actually turned out great! I love helping to inspire people to think differently and to create for themselves. I feel like the more people love their homes, the happier we’ll be when we leave our homes, right?
Samuel: It’s also great to show people that it’s not so precious. If your coffee rub ruined your wall, you’d have to wash it off and you’re out a few bucks, but no biggie. 

 

Ask for Help

Samuel: I’ve learned so much from my dad; he’s so hands-on with our renovations. When our washing machine broke, he tried to figure it out himself, and he had to do this whole drainage process and reset the pressure…when it was finally over, he was so satisfied.
Ford: It is nice to be able to do some things yourself. I’ve learned a lot from my brother, certainly. But I also have learned to divide and conquer so I can move on to other things. 

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Aim for Fun, Not Fine

Samuel: Your house should reflect you and it should be for you. You shouldn’t have to worry about the neighbors or whomever’s judging you.
Ford: I’m sure some people will see this project I did and be like, “What in the world?” But I think design is art. And art is not for everyone. And if nobody hates it, then nobody loves it, right? How boring is “just fine”? Let’s just go for fun instead of fine, you know? Do something special that you love and don’t worry what the neighbors or your sister think. More people need to do that. It’s very freeing. 

 

Trust Yourself

Ford: Stay true to your vision, because you will be questioned. Things that we’re drawn to in an image or in a home are things that are different and interesting; they’re new for people. Don’t second-guess yourself; go through with your vision. The amount of plumbers I’ve had to tell, “No, I want this to be a sink. I know it’s not a sink; I want this to become a sink.” You have to psych yourself up and stick to your vision. 

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Our Winter Renovation issue is here! Subscribe now to step inside Leanne Ford’s latest project—her own historic Pennsylvania home. Plus discover our new rules of reno.