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If you’ve been following Leanne Ford since the beginning, you might be able to guess her favorite IKEA product. Or should we say, products. Before she was the authority on easy-breezy spaces, Ford was a fashion stylist and creative director. While renovating her historic Pittsburgh schoolhouse-turned-home, she looked to IKEA to outfit the kitchen—and when a magazine got wind of the transformation, it changed everything for her. The year was 2013, the magazine was Country Living, and the IKEA items in question were the Grimslöv cabinets and Karlby counters. 

“It was the kitchen that launched my interior design career,” remembers Ford. “I bought the cabinets, appliances, and countertops at IKEA—it was all I could afford.”

With subway tiles bringing a modern touch to the room, Ford picked the more traditional, Shaker-style IKEA cupboards for some balance. “I wanted something classic and affordable,” she explains. “Butcher block and simple white cabinetry? Check!” Complemented with sleek pulls, the combination is relaxed and warm. If you’ve been having pangs of jealousy due to all the dreamy projects on Restored by the Fords, consider this space proof that you don’t have to spend a fortune to get the designer’s signature look. 


Photo by Max Kim Bee for Country Living

The reason that this kitchen doesn’t look like it was done on a budget is the accents. “I added vintage around it to disguise the IKEA feeling,” says Ford, pointing to the antique baker’s table that functions as the kitchen island. The glass cabinet in the corner was original to the home, and with a lick of white paint, it fits right in with the new additions. 

While Ford may have moved on from flatpack kitchens, the room will always hold a soft spot in her heart. If you’re a first-time homeowner, we suggest taking a page from her book and lifting this cabinet-and-counter combo for your own space. Who knows? The next interior design career that’s launched could be yours. 

More ways to spice up IKEA favorites: IKEA Hack: How to DIY the Nightstand of Your Dreams 24 Crazy-Easy IKEA Hacks That’ll Make You a DIY Convert These Stunning Custom Couches Are Really Just IKEA Sofas in Disguise