When HGTV announced their 2019 “Rock the Block” special I failed to recognize one of the leading designers featured on the show. Mina, Allison, and Jasmine where household names for my husband and I but Leanne hadn’t shown up on our radar. After 2.5 years remodeling Château Enginerd, and stealing ideas from every episode of the various remodeling series, from Flip or Flop through Love it or List It, I thought I’d seen it all and wouldn’t be impressed by another home design style.
I was wrong.
Restored by the Fords was a very unique find because it features a brother and sister team that is best described as Introverted Nerdy Down to Earth Chic. In other words, real, unrehearsed and familiar to me. Steve demos off walls and outdated interiors to facilitate his sister’s creativity process. The brawn and the beauty; the ying and the yang. Leanne accepts tips and criticism from her older bro in typical sibling rivalry banter, making him as much a part of her success as the extraordinary and whimsical twists she gives to the architectural pieces they manage to bring back to life.
The Pittsburgh homes they remodel are showstoppers on their own merit. Leanne and Steve pick the most interesting layouts to improve, coming up with plans that made my engineering heart smile. Unlike other shows that make a point to use color and texture to make homes interesting, this duo uses light, bright and airy – or white as Steve jokes – to create modern minimalist vibes that turn any space into a staycation resort. The team can make lavish, off the wall, designs effortless when they are not an easy challenge. (Their architect is featured in almost every episode.) When pressed to use color, for cabinets or highlights, the Fords still deliver the same result; the wow factor that everyone expects when turning average diggs into marvelous sanctuaries.
Some viewers complained online that the Fords’ chemistry is “off” – they are dorky siblings not a couple – and that the out of the box minimalistic white and black interiors are too ridiculous but I disagree. Based on my experience with the show, the problem is that not everyone can appreciate modern luxury, nor the creative process of these talented quirky nerds. Their style is not traditional. Leanne doesn’t settle for cookie cutter, cheap material, mainstream look or feel. She invests in techniques like concrete skim coating for fireplaces and polymer seals for cement floors, which are common in the higher echelons of society and are not greatly appreciated by the masses.
I grew up around concrete and terrazzo, with hard surfaces like quartz, marble and ceramic tile which make me a bit biased in favor of the Fords’ design choices. Their style can come across as too afluent or commercial catalog to some but considering the thousands of dollars assigned to each project, and the homeowner’s needs, there is no need to settle for anything less than the best. Just ask Steve who had Leanne redo his bachelor pad during the end of the second season and was blown away by the end result. I wanted to move in to to his home after that reveal. It was perfect!
Watch Seasons 1 and 2 of Restored by the Fords on the HGTV app, or On Demand via your preferred streaming, cable or satellite provider.