Design 5 Swoon Worthy Things:

“Always Say Yes”—Leanne Ford’s Advice Is Our 2022 Mantra

Words by Sacha Strebe.

Erin Kelly
Erin Kelly

Have you ever stepped out of your comfort zone to try something you have no formal experience doing? Daunting, yes. Exhilarating, definitely. Besides, you’ll never know how much potential you have in an area of interest if you don’t throw your hat in the ring, right? So, in the words of my favorite book, sometimes you just have to feel the fear and do it anyway. That’s exactly what Leanne Ford did. After designing numerous rentals, she finally decorated her own home and the final reveal was featured in Country Living Magazine.

Unsurprisingly, that article resulted in numerous inbound requests for her to design other people’s homes, retail spaces, offices, etc., and despite no prior experience doing interior design outside of her own spaces, she said “yes” without hesitation. In fact, her advice to anyone in a similar position is to “always say yes.” And honestly, that’s the kind of energy we want to bring with us into 2022. 

Ford’s confidence in design is exactly what draws all of us to her work. Her work is instantly recognizable thanks to her signature stamp that fuses texture, vintage, nature, art, white on white, and a whole lotta soul. We were so thrilled to sit down with the inimitable designer to chat more about her career path, crafting the Leanne Ford brand, design tips, and the five home décor pieces she’s loving right now. 

“Always Say Yes”—Leanne Ford’s Advice Is Our 2022 Mantra

NAME: Leanne Ford

PROFESSION: Interior Designer 

HOME BASE: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

INSTAGRAM: @leannefordinteriors

WEBSITE: leanneford.com

BRIEFLY, HOW YOU CAME TO DO WHAT YOU DO: I was working in fashion in Los Angeles for 15 years but I always decorated my rentals to the nines in college and beyond, using whatever I had—spray paint, random fabric, curbside treasures—and when I finally had a house I owned, I, of course, did it up. That house ended up being featured in Country Living Magazine and that article started my career. People started calling me to design their houses and offices and restaurants. So being a freelance creative I just said “yes!” (p.s always say yes.) So after I said yes, I called up my very successful interior design friend, Dan Mazzarini from grade school, and said “What do I need to know to be an interior designer?” I think I got about four years of education in about 45 minutes.

Erin Kelly
Erin Kelly
“Always Say Yes”—Leanne Ford’s Advice Is Our 2022 Mantra

WHAT YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB: I feel that when you love your home, you are happier in life, and you can leave your house happier and spread that around. So I love helping people create homes that they love and then of course giving them tips, tricks, and my secrets! 

WHAT YOU LIKE LEAST ABOUT YOUR JOB: Budgets….budgets and budgets. 

DESIGN PHILOSOPHY: Freedom of expression, if you love it do it! 

YOUR AESTHETIC IN 3 WORDS: Warm, easy, minimalist-ish! 

WHAT INSPIRES YOUR WORK MOST AND WHY? Everything inspires my work, everywhere you look, everything you see, everything you listen to and think about goes into what you put out into the planet. 

Erin Kelly
Erin Kelly
“Always Say Yes”—Leanne Ford’s Advice Is Our 2022 Mantra

I’M ENDLESSLY OBSESSED WITH____ BECAUSE: White paint because I feel like it is an easy win for all styles, all homes, all projects and gives you a blank canvas to play with. And it adds lightness and brightness to your space.  

DESIGN TREND YOU LOVE? I love that neutral design is such a big concept right now. I know the pendulum will swing in the other direction here soon but I am just enjoying the simplicity while it’s here. 

ONE YOU WISH WOULD GO AWAY? The only thing I wish would go away is when other people design for other people. I truly believe that it’s your own home, do what makes your heart happy, and don’t design based on trends or your neighbors. To sum it up what I wish would go away is people designing their own homes based on trends or the neighbors. 

COLOR OR NEUTRAL? EXPLAIN. Neutrals—with lots of layers and textures! I find myself pulled towards neutral colors because it not only simplifies a space but it calms whatever is going on in this crazy brain. 

“Always Say Yes”—Leanne Ford’s Advice Is Our 2022 Mantra
“Always Say Yes”—Leanne Ford’s Advice Is Our 2022 Mantra

WE WILL NEVER SEE _____ IN YOUR HOME: Well, now I have a kid so never say never… there are a lot of things in my home now that I never wanted to see… but it’s worth it! 

HOW AND WHERE YOU SHOP: I love Etsy, Chairish, 1st Dibs, and all my local vintage dealers in Pittsburgh. My friends at our local Magazine, Table, did a great round-up of my favorite Pittsburgh vintage spots that you can check out here. I also love going to RoundTop in Texas, anything on the side of the road, the highway, all of it, there is nothing I say no to and you can always find something interesting in any shop. Oh, and of course I love Crate and Barrel

WHO ARE YOUR DESIGN ICONS AND WHY? Axel Vervoordt is my #1, it took me years to realize that all the pictures I was most drawn to were the same designer. I also love Rose Unikae because it’s very traditional and beautiful but with a touch of ease. And I loooove watching all the designers up and coming now and supporting each other, like Lauren Liess, Sarah Sherman Samuel, and Athena

Tessa Neustdadtjpg
Tessa Neustdadtjpg
Tessa Neustdadtjpg
Tessa Neustdadtjpg
“Always Say Yes”—Leanne Ford’s Advice Is Our 2022 Mantra

Leanne's 5 SwoonWorthy Things:

I can't wait till my order arrives and I can get them into my own home.

I have been SO into the curved sofa since I discovered Vladimir Kagan early in my design life. So it feels pretty darn amazing to design my own take on it for Crate and Barrel. The best part of a curved sofa set is that you can create a room in a room and not worry about doorways, windows, fireplaces… you can even use this set at the end of your bed if you’re lucky enough to have the “problem” of an oversized bedroom to fill!

Athena hook a sister up… but seriously I love them because they are cozy, cozy, wooooooozy!

I truly can’t ever get enough of them and for my renters out there they are the perfect hack for working around light fixtures you didn’t get to pick without having to fully swap out whatever is already there.

From the BEHR Dynasty line…. seriously though I am currently on my third project where I am covering both the interior and exterior in it. It's warm but still clean and fresh with a hint of vintage.

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