Leanne Ford on remodeling, loving and listing her home in Sewickley
When HGTV star Leanne Ford first visited the red brick house with a large wooden portico nestled on 5 acres, she found herself intrigued by both its shape and style.
âIt was a very rare Mid-Century Modern in Sewickley Heights,â she recalls. “I had never seen this as a possibility before.”
While the house, built in 1950, was well maintained, the designer, who co-starred with her brother, Steve Ford, in “Home Again With The Fords,” said she was calling for voom, and well , âI love a project,â she says.
At the time, Ford and her husband Erik Allen Ford, co-founder of clothing brand Buck Mason, were traveling from Pittsburgh to Los Angeles and back, and Leanne Ford – who grew up in Upper St. Clair – wanted a home port closer to family. After purchasing the four-bedroom, 3,242-square-foot home in 2018, she spent nearly a year renovating the property.
âIt was a total gut job,â she says. âOnce we started, we didn’t stop.
OK, not a total job, corrects the designer. Ford notes that they repurposed the lower kitchen cabinets, sanded them down for a natural shade, and kept the original windows in the family room.
She also knocked down the wall between the kitchen and the dining area for a more open and airy feel and added high-end appliances such as a Sub-Zero refrigerator and a Viking gas stove. Instead of recessed lights, she added a series of eye-catching gold pendants.
The centerpiece of the kitchen is a massive island with stunning cascading Armina Stone marble countertops. The Fords also added large folding glass doors to the deck which, in addition to giving a grand view of the wooded property, manages to bring inside the feeling of being on the outside.
Other notable features include a locally handcrafted white oak sculptural staircase and handcrafted concrete plastered walls. There is also a globe in the shape of Isamu Noguchi pendant light and period wood stove in the single storey family room.
Magic in the bedroom
The master suite is located on the lower level of the house, where Ford – fearing the space would seem too dark – opened the staircase to the upper level to let in light and added more folding glass doors. The adjacent bathroom has heated floors, a double shower head, hammam, two cascading marble basins and a walk-in closet.
The home also includes what Ford has called three âmagicâ freestanding tubs, including a Native Trails slate concrete tub in the master bathroom surrounded by boulders. The rocks actually have a drain underneath, so if the water spills over the tub, it doesn’t go onto the floor.
“I miss those tubs,” said Ford, laughing.
Of course, the exterior and interior of the building, including the brick walls in the family room, are painted in Ford’s signature white. According to the designer, it was an easy way to modernize the space.
âThe reason white works for everything is that you notice the lines around the house more, which are really interesting,â she says. âWhat seemed dated before has become crisp and modern when painted white. It’s honestly pretty foolproof.
Fords lived in space throughout the renovation. This is also where they brought their daughter, Ever, when she was born in March 2019. However, once the family started spending more time in Los Angeles, they decided to separate from the house.
âWe had no intention of selling it,â says Ford. âIt was not our intention.
Back on the market
Today, the house is on the market again. It is listed for $ 1.3 million.
Real estate agent Angela Pulkowski from Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices said the current owner, who purchased the Ford property as a second home in late 2019, has decided to stay in Florida permanently to be closer to his family during the coronavirus pandemic. The owner, who asked to remain anonymous, also bought much of Ford’s furniture.
âHe redesigned the driveway and he turned Leanne’s office into another spare bedroom, but most of the time it looks like Leanne lived there,â Pulkowski says.
The pandemic is also what inspired the Fords to come closer to the family which, in addition to Ford’s brother, includes his sister, Michelle, and their mother, Jackie.
âWe were spending more time in LA, which totally changed when COVID happened. It was all about the family, âsays Ford.
The next big project
In June 2020, the couple sold their California home and returned to the Pittsburgh area for good after purchasing an old historic home north of the city. designed by architect Charles Barton Keen. Viewers may recall the separate home shed – which Ford infamously spotted with leftover coffee – being featured in the final season of “Home Again with the Ford” as the siblings worked to make it. a guest cottage with an old- English garden vibe for Ford’s sister-in-law, Ali.
While there is no word on the sequel to “Home Again with the Ford,” which focuses on the brother / sister duo renovating homes for booming families back in Pittsburgh, Ford is working on a another project – an innovative house turnaround.
âIt’s in Upper St. Clair, and it’s my first time doing it,â she says.
Fans can follow Ford Instagram as she renovates the home with an original Sears-Roebuck Craftsman-style kit. Already, she has raised the roof line of the house to make it a more usable second story and painted the interior crisp white. The four-bedroom house, which Ford is putting the finishing touches on, is tentatively scheduled to hit the market by December.
âWe literally cut off the top house to raise the roof,â she says of the project. “It was a big tadoo.”