Steve and Leanne Ford are back! This remodeling duo first rose to fame with HGTV’s “Restored by the Fords,” and the brother and sister have just resurfaced with a new show, “Back Home With the Fords.”
In the premiere episode, “Steel City Bohemian,” Leanne experiences a blast from her past, reuniting with her old college pal Jenna and her husband, Adam. A lot has changed since college: The couple have two young kids and, needing more space, they’ve moved into Adam’s grandparents’ old house just outside Pittsburgh.
They want to make this space elegant yet bohemian, while ensuring that it’s family-friendly. Leanne and Steve have $160,000 to make it happen. Here’s how the Fords pull it off, which might inspire some upgrades around your own home, too.
A steel handrail is a great way to glam up the stairs
When Leanne and Steve first step into Jenna and Adam’s home, they notice how strange the entryway is.
It’s an area that’s filled with a dated staircase and too many closets, making the space feel confusing rather than welcoming.
The Fords decide to simplify the space by taking out a closet and opening it up so that guests can see the staircase when they first walk in. Of course, this means they need to give this staircase a makeover, which includes a stylish new steel stair rail.
“We need to show off some Pittsburgh steel,” Leanne says. “So we’re going to do, like, a very magical steel railing here. It has to be special and interesting, but match the vibe of the house.”
When the railing is finished, it looks great, particularly to Adam, whose family has worked in steel for four generations. It’s a simple piece that gives the home a great first impression.
A rounded fireplace makes an old house look modern
One of the biggest design problems with this house is the fireplace. Not only is it dated, but it’s also angled strangely on the living room wall. Luckily, Leanne knows how to make the best of it.
“The angle that it’s at was kind of, like, a problem to solve, but it actually created one of my favorite design features in this home,” Leanne tells Adam and Jenna. “Steve’s going to build a grounded surround, and we are going to vertically tile it. A modern, gorgeous, elevated fireplace.”
They knock out the wall with dated paneling, opening up the space so you can see right from the living room to the kitchen and dining area.
The rounded fireplace gives the living room a midcentury aesthetic, while the dark tile makes it look chic and modern. It all fits together so well, the weird old fireplace seems like a bad dream.
Breakfast banquettes can be glamorous, too
One spot Jenna and Adam are especially excited to use is the built-in banquette. They know it’ll be the perfect family breakfast table.
Leanne and Steve order some stain-resistant banquette seating that will be perfect for young children, but once the seats are installed, they realize that this banquette looks more glamorous than they imagined.
“It’s a little bit more ‘lounge’ than it is ‘time for eggs and bacon.’ Maybe we run with this vibe that it is and change some stuff up,” Steve says.
So they decide to lean into the glam vibe, skipping the traditional table they’d planned to put into the banquette area and replacing it with some smaller statement tables that allow the surrounding seating to really shine.
This spot will still work as a family breakfast table, but it will also be perfect for grown-up cocktail parties. After all, that stain-resistant material will work for grape juice and red wine alike.
Consider different-colored countertops
When it comes to the kitchen, Leanne and Steve know that they’ll need to start from scratch. They gut the original kitchen and create a much bigger, more modern space for this family of four.
Still, they run into one problem when Adam and Jenna can’t decide on a counter color.
“Adam was wanting dark marble and Jenna was wanting light marble,” Leanne says.
Her solution? “We literally split the difference. We put dark marble on the island and white Carrara marble for all the other countertops, and they play really well together.”
With white walls and black hardware, the mix of black and white countertops looks great in this kitchen. It’s a stylish compromise that looks entirely intentional.
You don’t have to stick with one type of flooring
Since Jenna and Adam want their home to have a bohemian look, Leanne chooses light wood floors for most of the living areas. However, she switches it up for the sunroom, laying down the same gray clay tile she uses on the fireplace.
She knows that using the same tile will help the entire home design come together; plus, it’ll look great in the space.
“It’ll play nicely with the wood and with these huge windows,” Leanne says.
When the sunroom is finished, it looks beautiful. The gray tile brings some depth to this bright room, and the durable material makes it especially kid-friendly.
When the renovation is finished, this space is a gorgeous second living room the whole family will want to hang in.