If you haven’t been watching Restored by The Fords, HGTV’s latest home-improvement, brother-sister duo—also one of the ways we’ll cope with Chip and Joanna leaving our favorite channel—now is the time to get in on it. The premise of the show is centered around the pair, whose goal is to turn quirky properties into a family’s elegant dream home. Because after all, as Leanne Ford keenly states in the show’s opener, “the difference between weird and wonderful is just good design.”
Last night’s episode, titled “House with the Circle Ceiling” featured one of Leanne’s favorite projects, because it gave her and Steve the opportunity to show off their creative side with lots of custom features. From the floors to the cabinets to even some cool furniture, the space took shape with one-of-a-kind details, executed as only Leanne and Steve can do.
As with all the projects featured on the show, the home started off with good bones, but this one was particularly dark and dated. Envisioning a much brighter, cleaner home, they overhauled the drab 1960s features by opening up the interior walls and bringing in light from all sides. Reimagining a more cohesive living space, Leanne took on bringing the music-loving homeowners’ needs to life: an open, spacious floor plan that would lend itself to music and entertaining.
“By taking the walls out from either side of the entry room we created one large social area” Leanne tells Domino. They also took down a brick feature wall that closed the front door off from the rest of the house.
With the compartmentalized rooms gone to reveal a much larger, more conducive space, the area took on a shape and character of its own. One that Leanne was excited to emphasize with custom details. “I designed a custom circular sofa with the help of our local friends Blawnox Upholstery in Pittsburgh as the piece de resistance in this space. I wanted to highlight the gorgeous circular skylight above, while creating conversation areas in the middle of the room as well as encourage interaction with both sides of the house.”
The circular sofa is just one of the ways Leanne wanted to play with shapes throughout the home. Between the round sofa and cool, custom rope art above, there is an organic quality to the design. These details add depth to the minimalist design.
And for even more playful shapes, Leanne added custom wood floors throughout the home, placed in an intricate herringbone pattern with a finish that was so light it “felt almost nonexistent.” By far one of the most trendy features of the house, the floors were made from local Pennsylvania trees, grown and milled by Allegheny Mountain Hardwood Flooring. As Leanne tells Domino, “It was a custom job through and through!”
Fans of the show already know how much Leanne loves a good coat of crisp white paint, and this lackluster home was no exception. The deep brown brick was weighing down the entire space, so Leanne and Steve tackled it by painting it white.
“It really never ceases to amaze me how powerful white paint can be to breathe new life into a home,” says Leanne. “We used High Gloss Behr Pure White on the brick and trim in this project. As well as a high gloss treatment on the floor tiles. We added a concrete skim coat to the walls to warm up the space and play off of the bright whites. I wanted to add warmth, texture and a natural feeling to the space.”
With just a little paint, the dull brick was immediately feeling fresher. Leanne’s pro-tip for picking the right white? Think of what you’re drawn to, and the kind of look you’re trying to achieve. “Different shades of white work in different ways. Warmer and creamier whites create a more natural feeling, while bright whites add light and highlight textures. The crisp clean feeling of a fresh coat of white paint creates a modern backdrop for your home and your beautiful things.”
In the kitchen, elements like pre-existing textured tile served as the inspiration for the total overhaul. The circular bulbs above the ultra sleek kitchen island tie into the circular elements of the sofa and skylight, while the simple wood cabinets pair well with the natural finish of the hardwood floors throughout.
“We kept with the natural woods and feeling with light, simple, wooden cabinets. We kept a wooden cabinet modern by keeping their lines very simple and clean, and by using high gloss and simple quartz counters,” explains Leanne.
As part of the new open floor plan, the kitchen/dining area is full of natural light. A slim rectangular window lets in light from above, while Steve and Leanne opted not to use any upper cabinets to keep it bright and airy. Simple stainless steel finishes and appliances ground the design.
Since the clients were originally from Brazil, the blend of natural elements were key. “I wanted to bring in touches of the beauty of architecture and design from Brazil, says Leanne. “I added a ton of natural elements, the ropes throughout, the natural wood cabinets, mixed woods, and natural light floors.”
Though the space is primarily monochromatic with pops of black, we particularly love the way Leanne added warmth with unexpected elements like the traditional farmhouse table in the dining area off the kitchen. The massive wood table provides the perfect place for gathering juxtaposed with the streamlined, modern kitchen. Again, Leanne played with shapes here, creating a focal point out of the natural basket lights that loom above in black.
Complete with tons of subtle texture, a bright monochromatic palette and ultra cool custom pieces, the home is a fresh take on the original. “We kept the simple lines and shapes of the home and used that to inspire the rest of the design. There was a bit of Carlo Scarpa inspiration in this home and we wanted to respect that by playing with the lines,” says Leanne on the finished product. The refreshed home is serene and beautifully minimalist.
Restored by the Fords airs Tuesday nights on HGTV.
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