Why Leanne Ford Is (Still!) My Budget Decorating Hero

published Mar 10, 2022
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Leanne Ford x Crate & Barrel Fall 2021 collection featuring a new farmhouse table, pictured here
Credit: Crate & Barrel

I clearly remember when Leanne Ford’s home appeared in the pages of Country Living magazine in September 2013. As a magazine editor, I subscribed to all the home magazines and dutifully tracked what they were publishing each month. As a New York City gal, Country Living wasn’t really my thing, but Ford’s renovated one-room schoolhouse piqued my interest. Here was something that felt cool but also doable — country but also edgy. 

I wasn’t alone in identifying Ford’s special decor magic. Clients immediately started calling her, and in 2016 Ford and her brother got their own show, “Restored by the Fords.” (Today, they’re the hosts of “Home Again With the Fords.“)

Some of that first house’s budget-friendly decor tricks are quite popular now (running bond subway tile, shiplap), but at the time they felt like fresh, unique, affordable ways to customize a home. Fast-forward to two years ago, when Leanne Ford launched her collection at Crate & Barrel with a party in New York. What stuck out to me that evening were all of Ford’s budget decorating tricks still at work. There were the big paper lanterns, the IRL pin board of photos, and the branches that looked like they could have been clipped from someone’s yard.

I consider Ford the most sophisticated designer on HGTV, and a budget decor expert. Don’t get me wrong, “Home Again With the Fords” does not show budget renovations — its remodels are pure aspiration. Plus, the show’s producers conceal the true costs of the makeovers by leaving the furnishings and labor out of the budget.

But again and again, Ford gives me ideas that fit my real-life budget. Her new tool-shed-turned-yoga-studio? I can see myself painting an old shed white from top to bottom and creating something to that effect. Her coffee-stained and lime-washed walls? A way I could realistically add character to my apartment without calling in a contractor. The antique beds in her guest house? I can imagine scoring them at a yard sale. I also love that she shares nitty-gritty details like which Bona floor finish she loves or how to antique a mirror. 

So even though Ford’s budget and fame have taken her past her scrappy do-it-yourself roots, Leanne Ford is still my budget decorating hero.