Spotlight on Design with Leanne Ford: Q&A with the HGTV Star
The celebrity designer dishes on her new Capsule Collection for Formica.
By Rebecca L. Rhoades
HGTV star Leanne Ford didn’t set out to be an interior designer. The Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, native got her start in the design world as a fashion stylist, but when her own house, a one-room school built in 1907 that she transformed into a bright, airy, modern abode, was featured in a national publication, her career trajectory took a sharp turn. “People started asking me to design their homes, so I said ‘yes’ and just figured it out,” she recalls. Her minimalist, casual style and signature white-on-white aesthetic garnered her fans and clients across the country. In 2016, Leanne and her brother, Steve, a contractor, debuted their popular renovation show, “Restored by the Fords,” in which they give fresh updates to off-the-beaten-path homes in Pittsburgh.
We had a chance to catch up with Leanne at KBIS, where she was promoting her new Capsule Collection with Formica, a 14-piece line of laminate surface products inspired by natural elements and neutral colors.
Phoenix Home & Garden: Why do you love to design with white?
Ford: White is a blank canvas. It’s the silence between the chords, and it allows everything else to shine. Instead of spending years looking through paint chips, just do white, and your home will look beautiful immediately. I love PPG’s Pure White, which is timeless. It has no tint to it. Then, if you want a warmer feel, add a creamy white. Cream next to white—they make each other look better.
PHG: If someone is interested in updating their home, where should they start?
Ford: Paint. It’s a weekend-warrior activity, and it can make a room feel like it’s new again. If you want to do more, concentrate on the kitchen and bathrooms. They’re where we spend the most time, so it’s important that they be spaces you love. I also believe in creating a nice master bath and bedroom for yourself, because you’re the king or queen of your own home. Most people take care of their kids and everything else but treat themselves last. Having an oasis to come home to and relax in creates a better life.
PHG: What are some design trends you’re seeing today?
Ford: I try to ignore trends because I think a home needs to be longer-lasting than what goes in and out of fashion. But everybody’s into technology. Appliances are getting very high tech, and manufacturers are bringing out a lot of new colors—it’s not just stainless steel anymore. You can have a white fridge again, or even one that’s blue. But I say, overall, ignore trends. They come and go so fast. Do what you love, what inspires you.
PHG: Why should people check out Formica?
Ford: Formica isn’t just for countertops anymore. You can really push its design. I used a glossy white Formica for the walk-in closet doors at my house, and I did the cabinet fronts at my brother’s place in the stainless steel laminate. The company has these new HardStop panels that you can wrap around a fireplace. The Watercolor series, which looks like marble, is a very Zen option. And, of course, the color choices are great, especially if you’re fixing up a midcentury home. If you’re trying to remain true to the era, you can add a red or orange, which I think is so cool. I love to go Formica spotting, especially at restaurants and hotels. It’s everywhere. You just don’t realize it.