I am obsessed with Leanne Ford. She and her brother Steve swoop into some pretty dated mid-century homes and voila! By painting the walls white (or a brighter white then they already are) and trimming it all with black (sometimes grey — ok — one time with a pale teal — shocker!) suddenly these spaces are just plain damn awesome. Awesome!

I eagerly await their “Restored by the Fords” episodes each week on HGTV to see what I can learn from her designs — which I have dubbed “Contemporary Primitive”. See, what’s so cool about what they do is that they use clean lines, a simple color scheme, along with a modern aesthetic, but they wisely layer everything with texture and history (and yes a few pops of color).

So next to a hidden doorway hallway, you’ll find a handmade, irregular backsplash. Or concrete counters and raw edge mantels paired with bright white walls and painted stone. They always balance the sleek with the natural in a way that makes everything seem ultra-fresh and so now (while honoring the mid-century history of the home).

Yes, you may have to take a deep breath every time she and Steve take a brush to bricks, stones or whatever strikes their fancy, but her choices never disappoint. (I also want to dress like her but that’s another blog — BTW I find it interesting she worked with Betsey Johnson, the queen of bright pink + pattern and now wears almost only black & white, again another story).

Leanne has just dropped a collection of lights at Target in conjunction with Project 62 that are just super mid-mod in their lines (and super reasonable) as an homage to the mid-century designers she loves. All of her pieces pair nicely with real vintage items so if you’re looking for away to extend your budget, this is something to consider.

I don’t own a home anymore so I can’t really start a major reno like Steve and Leanne do. But I have found that applying some of their (and the Stone’s) “Paint It Black” or “White on White” mentality to the items I add as décor has been really satisfying!

For example, when swapping out winter blankets, pillows and bedding recently, I chose to replace everything in lightweight materials primarily with only white and a bit of black here and there (my furniture is dark and heavy so white lightened and brightened better for the season). I even redid my knitted pouf with a retro white leather Moroccan cover. LOVE!!! And I may just whitewash my faux bricks on my faux fireplace.

This allowed me to keep my “Mid-Mod Meets Schoolhouse” vibe going but suddenly everything felt more Spring-y and cool. So thank you Leanne and Steve for coming into my home each week (on TV), inspiring me to contemporize my stuff and look at everything in a new light.

Don’t be surprised if you find me bringing more just plain black & white style into the store soon. I’ve even thought about doing a few of my crayon drawings monochromatic. I know WHHAATTTT?!?! Who knows? Maybe it will take Delaney Lynch Art to a new place too. I’ll keep you posted.

Restored by The Fords is on HGTV Tuesdays. See local listings for time.

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