Leanne Ford on Remodeling, Loving and Listing Her Sewickley Home
The star of HGTV’s “Home Again with the Fords” transformed the Mid-Century Modern Home before selling it. It’s now back on the market.
When HGTV star Leanne Ford first rolled up to the red brick home with a large timber portico tucked away on 5 acres, she found herself intrigued by both its shape and its style.
“It was a very rare Mid-Century Modern in Sewickley Heights,” she recalls. “I’d never seen that as a possibility before.”
While the home, built in 1950, was well-kept, the designer, who co-stars with her brother, Steve Ford, on ”Home Again With The Fords” says it was calling for some va-va voom, and well, “I just love a project,” she says.
At the time, Ford and her husband, Buck Mason clothing brand co-founder Erik Allen Ford, were traveling back and forth between Pittsburgh and Los Angeles, and Leanne Ford — who grew up in Upper St. Clair — wanted a home base closer to family. After buying the four-bedroom, 3,242 square-foot house in 2018, she spent close to a year renovating the property.
“It was a total gut job,” she says. “Once we started, we didn’t stop.”
OK, not a total gut job, the designer amends. Ford notes they reused the kitchen’s lower cabinets, which they sanded down to a natural-toned hue, and kept the original windows in the family room.
She also took down the wall between the kitchen and dining room for an open, airier feel and added high-end appliances such as a Sub-Zero refrigerator and a Viking gas stove. In lieu of recessed can lights, she added a series of eye-catching gold pendants.
Serving as the kitchen’s centerpiece is a massive island with stunning marble waterfall countertops from Armina Stone. The Fords also added large bi-fold glass doors leading out to the deck which, besides giving a grand view of the wooded property, manages to bring inside the feeling of being outdoors.
Among the other standouts are a locally handcrafted white oak sculptural staircase and artisanal concrete skim-coated walls.There’s also a globe-shaped Isamu Noguchi pendant light and a vintage wood-burning stove in the step-down family room.
Magic in the Bedroom
The primary suite is located on the home’s lower level, where Ford — worried the space would feel too dark — opened up the staircase to the upper level to let in the light and added more bi-fold glass doors. The adjacent bathroom has heated floors, a double showerhead, steam room, two marble waterfall vanities and a walk-in closet.
The home also features what Ford has called three “magical” freestanding bathtubs, among them a slate Native Trails concrete bathtub in the primary bathroom that’s surrounded by rocks. The rocks actually have a drain underneath, so if water spills over the tub, it doesn’t go onto the floor.
“I miss those bathtubs,” Ford says with a laugh.
Of course, both the exterior and interior of the building, including the brick walls in the family room, are painted in Ford’s signature white. This, the designer says, was an easy way to modernize the space.
“The reason white works for everything is you notice the lines of the home more, which are really interesting,” she says. “What felt dated before became crisp and modern when painted white. It’s honestly pretty fail-proof.”
The Fords lived in the space throughout the renovation. It’s 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 part with the home.
“We didn’t mean to sell it,” Ford says. “It wasn’t our intention.”
Back on the Market
Today, the home is once again on the market. It is listed for $1.3 million.
Realtor Angela Pulkowski of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices says the current owner, who bought the property from the Fords as a second home near the end of 2019, decided to stay permanently in Florida to be closer to family during the coronavirus pandemic. The homeowner, who asked to remain anonymous, also purchased much of Ford’s furniture.
“He redid the driveway and he turned Leanne’s office into another spare bedroom, but mostly it looks the same as when Leanne lived there,” Pulkowski says.
The pandemic also is what inspired the Fords to move closer to family which, besides Ford’s brother, includes sister, Michelle, and their mother, Jackie.
“We were spending more time in L.A., which totally switched when COVID happened. It was all about family,” Ford says.
The Next Big Project
In June 2020, the couple sold their California home and returned to the Pittsburgh area for good after purchasing a historic older home north of the city designed by architect Charles Barton Keen. TV viewers may recall the home’s separate carriage house — the walls of which Ford infamously stained using leftover coffee — being featured in the latest season of “Home Again with the Fords” as the siblings worked to turn it into a guest cottage with an Old-World, English garden vibe for Ford’s sister-in-law, Ali.
While there’s no word on what’s next for “Home Again with the Fords,” which focuses on the brother/sister duo renovating homes for families boomeranging back to Pittsburgh, Ford is at work on another project — an innovative house flip.
“It’s in Upper St. Clair, and it’s my first time doing it,” she says.
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Fans may follow along on Ford’s Instagram as she renovates the original Sears-Roebuck Craftsman-style kit house. Already, she has raised the roofline of the house to make a more usable second floor and painted the interior a crisp white. The four-bedroom house, which Ford is putting the finishing touches on, is tentatively slated to go on the market by December.
“We literally cut off the top house to raise the roof,” she says of the project. “It was a big tadoo.”