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The Best Thing Leanne Ford Ever Bought at IKEA

The purchase literally launched her career.

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Photography by Erin Elly; Styling by Hilary Robertson

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.”

The Grimslöv Cabinets and Karlby Counters

Photo by Max Kim Bee for Country Living

With subway tile bringing a modern touch to the room, Ford picked the more traditional, Shaker-style IKEA cupboards for some balance. (The Grimslöv collection is no longer available, but the Axstad line is an almost identical swap.) “I wanted something classic and affordable,” she explains. “Butcher block and simple white cabinetry? Check!”

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. Complemented with sleek pulls, the combination is relaxed and warm. Consider this space proof that you don’t have to spend a fortune to get the designer’s signature look. 

Get the (Similar) Look

Axstad Door

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Karlby Countertop

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While Ford may have moved on from flat-pack 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. 

Elly Leavitt

Writer and Editor

Elly enjoys covering anything from travel to funky design (tubular furniture, anyone?) to the latest cultural trend. Her dream apartment would exist on the Upper West Side and include a plethora of mismatched antique chairs, ceramic vessels, and floor-to-ceiling bookcases—essential to her goal of becoming a poor man’s Nora Ephron. You can probably find her in line at Trader Joe’s. You will never find her at SoulCycle.