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While renovating a client’s Pittsburgh home for an episode of last season’s Restored by the Fordsdesigner and new Leesa mattress spokesperson Leanne Ford had to do what most designers wouldn’t dare: Meddle with the brand-spanking-new wall covering she had just put a lot of work into selecting.

Wallpapering the ceiling in the living room was meant to be a quick, cosmetic fix for a bad sponge-paint job. To disguise the blotches (and lend the space the contemporary feel her clients were looking for), Ford chose local artist Savannah Hayes’s Pompeii print, a doodle-like design with black intertwining squiggles. It was just the edge she needed. The moment it was installed, however, she realized the pattern overwhelmed the Colonial house’s smooth archways. While she admits wallpaper might not be her “norm,” luckily, white paint is. 

“I called Savannah, and I asked, ‘Do you mind if I go over this?’” she recalls. Once she got the green light, the designer covered the paper with a light wash to create a hazy effect. The new layer softened the curves and turned the dark lines a blackish blue. “There’s no other living room in the world like this,” Ford told her clients when she and her contractor brother, Steve, revealed the finished space. For her, it’s moments like this that often yield the most creative results. 

“You have to act like it’s on purpose.”

“You have to act like it’s on purpose,” shares the designer. This mantra is nothing new for Ford, who has a habit of transforming odd objects with a fresh coat—things most people wouldn’t even consider, including a chartreuse refrigerator, sisal rug, and sofa upholstery. So the next time you’re afraid to choose something bold, go for it anyway. You can always add a swipe of paint or two.

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