Published on April 24, 2020

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Photography by Amy Neunsinger

Leanne Ford is making moves. The designer and her husband, Buck Mason founder Erik Allen Ford, recently decided to sell their Los Angeles home in order to live a slower-paced life closer to loved ones. Rather than make massive renovations to their Pacific Palisades cabin, Ford saw the beauty in what was already there and focused on easy fixes with high visual impact—we learned more about those upgrades during our Instagram Live session with her on April 23. 

In addition to taking us on a mini tour of the enchanting property and sharing a few of her favorite vintage shops (she loves Amsterdam Modern in Los Angeles), Ford revealed the small paint projects, lighting swaps, and other low-lift upgrades she’s been making. The breezy updates aren’t just surface level—a crisp black-and-white palette is the ideal backdrop for potential buyers to picture their future life in the space. Her motto: Don’t take anything too seriously. “Design is fun. It’s art; it’s not too precious,” Ford told Domino’s editor in chief, Jessica Romm Perez, during the conversation. Whether you’re thinking of selling or set on staying put, here are a few easy ways to refresh your space. 

Turn the Floors Into Art

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Photography by Amy Neunsinger

“Paint is always worth it,” says Ford. After ripping up the dingy carpet in one of the guest rooms, she painted a graphic checkerboard design straight onto the floor. The funky pattern is arguably more of a showstopper than fancy hardwood planks.

Disguise Sad Tile

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Photography by Amy Neunsinger

The master bathroom wasn’t in dire need of a huge makeover, but for a fresh look, Ford went over the old tile with a concrete skim coat called Sher-Crete by Sherwin-Williams. “It’s an easy, lovely, temporary solution that’s waterproof,” explains the designer. 

Lean Into a Space’s Character

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Photography by Amy Neunsinger

The base for Ford’s second kitchen sink is essentially a piece of custom furniture. She had her friend Matthew Deters of Deter Fabrik cut apart her favorite table and turn it into a cabinet front. Now the makeshift platform lends an extra dose of charm to the original tile and rustic beams.

Swap Out the Light Fixtures

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Photography by Amy Neunsinger

You can elevate the mood of a room just by changing out the overhead lighting and even the switches and wall plates (Ford swapped her old ones for Legrand). In the living room, Ford opted for two airy round pendants that don’t skew too modern and help fill the large space. Switching things up in the bathroom was another game changer: “I was stuck,” says Ford. “All I did was add contemporary lights and it felt so much better.” The best part is you don’t necessarily have to call in an electrician (Ford and Hart Tools made a handy how-to video). 

“As a designer, I count on the plumber and the contractor and my brother…the list goes on and on. It’s not easy, it’s hard,” Ford says of transforming her home. “But then I get to live in it—it’s like performance art. We get to wake up and be here.”

It’s hammer time: Follow @reno_notebook for easy rental updates, clever DIYs, and tips to nail your next project.

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