Leanne Ford’s one of those designers who makes you go, “Ugh, really?!” As in, “ugh, really, you just swapped out these chairs and suddenly my stuck-in-the-’90s shabby chic kitchen looks Pinterest-worthy?!” Or, “ugh, really, all I needed was a matte trim to keep my walls from looking like a doctor’s office?!”
Ford, who stars alongside her brother in HGTV’s new show Restored by the Fords (premiering Tuesday night at 11 p.m. EST), has that ability to walk into a room and see potential, even when you’ve deemed it beyond hope. That’s why we turned to her for advice on the top ways to bring her effortlessly cool style to your kitchen, just in time for you to add a few (or all) to your new year’s resolutions.
1. Escape Your Island
If open floor plans (literally) tore down walls, the latest trend takes things one step further: Bringing elements of the living and dining rooms right into the kitchen. Many of Ford’s clients are skipping kitchen islands entirely, opting for a rustic wood table instead.
“The separation of the kitchen and dining room’s becoming obsolete,” Ford explains. “It only seems right that the kitchen’s becoming a very livable space where people hang out, beyond just cooking.”
2. Get White-on-White Just Right
All-white kitchens aren’t going anywhere — see: Everybody’s “For the Home” Pinterest boards and oh, everything Joanna Gaines fixes up — but there’s a key to keeping the room from looking doctor’s-office sterile: “Use different kinds of textures,” Ford says. “Whether it’s subway tile or a wood grain, linen or cotton, different kinds of textures add warmth and make the room feel cozy.”
3. Banish Your Bar Cart
As stunning as a well-decked bar cart can be, you really don’t need one, Ford insists. Even if you have the most out-of-control liquor stash in the world, that’s all the more reason to rethink how you show it off. “Liquor bottles are so beautiful — the bottles, the etchings, the labels — that you can put them anywhere in the mix, like on a bookshelf or on an old filing cabinet,” she says. “That, to me, is art. They reflect light like mirrors, adding a little shine to that corner.”
4. Go for the Bronze
Bronze accents are getting even more attention these days, going from minor detail to a starring role in many kitchens. Ford’s starting to see the color pop up on appliances, though as gorgeous as it is, an oven that’s bronzed better than Kim Kardashian’s face can set you back five figures. “They’ll come down in price, eventually,” Ford says, though you can get the same feeling with a few strategically placed pops of bronze or rose gold. Think vases, trays, drawer pulls and light fixtures.
5. Get a Concrete Idea
If marble’s too fussy (or pricey!) for your tastes, try going the other extreme — with concrete. “They’re really taking over,” Ford says. “Concrete’s not so expensive, it’s cool, easy, durable. Honestly, it’s like the evolution of butcher block.”
6. Sink into Extra Space
Everybody complains about not having enough counter space, but really, imagine what you could do with an extra sink. Ford’s been installing double sinks in many of her clients’ homes, which means two people can prep food — or do the dishes — at once, perfect for families who cook (or bake) together. “It lets you throw dishes in one and go back to the party, or you could fill a sink with ice and load it up with drinks,” Ford says.
7. Make Throwback Thursday Every Day
Stainless steel appliances have been the star of the kitchen for years now, and while they still look great in industrial homes, Ford’s been loving Smeg’s updated take on retro appliances. Yup, the white fridge is officially back — only with rounded edges and a taller, skinnier appearance. “The iPhone’s brought back white in a big way,” Ford says. “These refrigerators are super glossy, super clean, and cool and modern. They blend in better with white kitchens, too.”