Typically when Leanne Ford designs a home, there’s a client and their accompanying parameters and preferences to consider. But in her latest project, a flip just outside her hometown of Pittsburgh, Leanne’s self-described “artist brain” was the client and the little house was her “blank canvas” – sentiments she took quite literally with hand-drawn art applied directly to the walls.
To carry out her vision, Leanne commissioned artists Carolyn Kelly and Alexandra Gracik to help put a unique twist on the renowned interior designer’s signature white-on-white, modern but lived-in stye.
“I consider the spaces we live in a blank canvas to create in and on,” says Leanne, who stars in HGTV’s Restored by the Fords and Home Again with the Fords. “I realized into my career that I am more of an artist than a designer and my techniques for creating a space are anything but conventional.”
The cozy abode, dubbed Chestnut, was one Leanne had driven past often and long admired. “It has the sweetest wrap around porch,” Leanne says, “so when it came up for sale, I was excited about the idea of giving it a new life.”
New life is just what it got. The artists’ charcoal drawings adorn the walls, and even some furniture, throughout the home – above the fireplace, in the hallways, above the bathtub. They pair perfectly with Leanne’s tonal décor and contrasting materials of stone, concrete, slate, papier mâche and soft linens.
The vibe carries through to the kitchen, the star of the 1,800-square-foot home with its stunning black soapstone sink anchoring one side and Monogram’s 48” Dual Fuel Range on the other. It was that range that Leanne says “started my whole love affair with Monogram” and is also the pièce de resistance that landed the home its new owner.
About halfway through the project, Leanne’s friend Michaela Blaney, a lifestyle blogger, health coach and “major foodie” who whips up nutritious, drool-worthy recipes that she shares on social media, decided to stake claim to the Chestnut house.
“Michaela…wouldn’t let us give that 48-inch range to anyone else,” Leanne says. “When I realized she would want to take (it) over, it was an extra shot of inspiration to give her a space to inspire her work and her creation with food.”
New owner Michaela is using the range daily and loving both the functionality and design.
“From a safety perspective, it’s great – you’re completely aware of when everything is turned on and off,” she says. “It’s absolutely beautiful, and the focal point of the kitchen. And best of all, it’s so consistent and true to temperature.”
To hold all of Michaela’s favorite ingredients, Leanne brought in Monogram’s Integrated Column Refrigerator and Column Freezer. In a kitchen with a small footprint, large appliances were a tricky fit. But the separate refrigerator and freezer units allowed Leanne “to think outside of the box and place them on opposite sides of the room, creating symmetry in the space that you wouldn’t usually get with your typical fridge and freezer combo.”
The appliances are also panel-ready, which the designer prefers because it brings warmth to the space and allow the kitchen’s aesthetic to flow more seamlessly with the home’s overall design. “Panel-ready, always,” she quips in Feel Free, the new magazine she created and published this fall.
Though Michaela wasn’t the intended client when the would-be flip began, keeping the home “in the family,” as Leanne says, was a fortuitous outcome. The hand-drawn walls, creative spirit and impeccably outfitted kitchen turned out to be the perfect fit for Michaela.