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The Expert Podcast

Why Leanne Ford Loves Restoring Wonky Old Homes (And How You Can Too)

Words by Laura Dahlgren
a woman sitting in a chair in front of a window

Photography by Sarah Barlow

Leanne Ford didn’t get into interior design on purpose.

“Nothing in my brain ever made me think I would be in interior design until I was in it,” shares the Expert, who first earned her stripes in the fashion industry. Leanne was working as a freelance stylist and creative director when the opportunity to renovate a 1907 schoolhouse came knocking at her door, “I decided to leave the path that was safe and comfortable and jump head first into the abyss of the design world,” she says.

Years after that leap of faith, Leanne’s work has been featured in countless publications, she’s collaborated on collections for Crate and Barrel, starred in HGTV’s Restored by the Fords, and launched Feel Free—a magazine dedicated to Leanne’s love for spotlighting upcoming talent in the art industry.

This week, the designer sat down with Jake Arnold for the latest episode of The Expert Podcast. Join them as they discuss everything from Leanne’s love for tonal interiors to the best way to highlight quirky features when restoring old homes.

a living room filled with furniture and a fire place

Photography by Amy Neunsinger; Design by Leanne Ford Interiors

On Leanne’s All-White Aesthetic

Known for her love of neutrals, Leanne dishes on the secret to her classic, cream-colored aesthetic: “I’m so tonal and to be honest, it's out of sheer laziness,” jokes Leanne. “When everything is cream, white, and neutral—all hues in the same yummy shade—it works together.”

On Playing to Her Strengths

To preserve her creativity, Leanne is adamant about leaning into her talents when running her businesses. “I try to protect my creative brain space by staying out of what I’m bad at,” says Leanne. “I learned very early in my career to get help with operations and budgets so I can best focus on my vision.”

a living room filled with furniture and a fire place

Photography by Amy Neunsinger; Design by Leanne Ford Interiors

On Embracing the Wonkiness of Old Homes

A fierce lover of historic houses, Leanne approaches each renovation by asking what she can salvage rather than what she can change. “I only work in buildings that already exist because I like having a problem to figure out,” says Leanne. “Anything I’ve ever created that was weird or wild has come out of necessity. You need to add something a little off, whether it's furniture, lighting, or art—it’s what creates warmth in a space.”

On Telling a Story Through Design

For Leanne, consistency is an imperative part of the design process. “I create an entire space like an editorial story: every page you turn should connect to the previous one,” shares Leanne. “In a home, every corner you turn should link to the previous room. Using the same colors and finishes throughout your home is a surefire way to create a cohesive story.”

On Working With The Expert

Always an advocate for investing in your home, Leanne shares her biggest takeaway from working with The Expert: “I’m aware the hour isn’t cheap, but I’ve saved people hundreds of thousands of dollars while working together in our sessions,” she shares. “I’ve had clients come to me with plans for a major renovation for ripping out walls and cabinets which I’ve helped redirect to invest their money in ways that will better improve their home. Every time I leave a session, I feel that it was worth it to the client.”

a woman sitting on top of a brown couch

Photography by Sarah Barlow

Listen to the full episode on Spotify or Apple Podcasts now.