Meet the Fords: HGTV’s New Brother-and-Sister Dream Team

As a child, Leanne Ford rearranged her bedroom furniture at least once a week. “In sixth grade, I convinced my parents to paint their dark wooden cabinets and avocado refrigerator high-gloss white,” she recalls. “In college, I decorated my dorms,” and in her 20s, she always made sure her living space was tastefully put together.

But despite her obvious penchant for design, “I never even thought of going into interiors,” she confesses. “It wasn’t until I actually purchased a home that it became a career option.” Nestled on three acres in a little town outside of Pittsburgh, the fixer-upper—which Ford found on Craigslist—was an old 1907 schoolhouse that had been converted into a home in the ‘60s and had since fallen into disrepair.

“We took out ‘character’ in some spots, and put it back in other places,” Ford says, noting that the renovation involved ripping out drywall to expose the original beadboard that lay beneath, and lining the walls with pine two-by-fours. “I also added a wood-burning stove, because what’s a cabin in the woods without fire?” Country Living magazine saw photos of the project, and ended up shooting it for an eight-page spread. “It was a dream come true!” Ford says. After that, “people started calling and asking me to help design their homes.”

Ford had been a freelancer working in fashion at the time and soon, she found herself juggling not one, but two careers: one in couture, the other in decor. And after five years of managing both, “it was time to pick one,” she says. “I had done everything I had wanted to do in fashion, and was ready to use all of my creative energy for interiors.”

So she began to focus on growing her interior design business, splitting her time between Los Angeles and Pittsburgh and taking jobs along both coasts. And occasionally, she and her brother, Steve—who owns his own construction business—would collaborate on projects.

Then one day, a friend of a friend who worked at HGTV reached out to the duo asking whether or not they would be interested in starring in their own series. “My whole career has been based on ‘say yes, and I’ll figure it out as I go along,’” Ford says, “so the entire time I was like, ‘sure—I’d love to talk!’”

A few emails and a Skype interview later, they landed their own series. Called Restored by the Fords, it follows the pair as they renovate old, unconventional homes in rural Pennsylvania. “The reality of something like this happening is so small—we didn’t expect it to pan out this way,” she admits. “But we certainly weren’t saying no on the way to get there.”

Here, the brother and sister reveal the best part about working with one another, offer a few home design and construction tips, and grant a behind-the-scenes look at their show (which was recently renewed for a second season, set to premiere next year).

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