Leanne Ford Revises a Sears Roebuck Craftsman Kit House as Her First Home Flip

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Written By Jim J Neal

Erin KellyWhat would a renowned designer, HGTV celebrity, and lover of vintage architecture do if given the chance to transform a house with no clients, no TV crew and an unusual amount time? Leanne Ford plunged into this adventure last spring, when she decided to turn a Pittsburgh house. House Beautiful caught up with Ford as she described the opportunity to do beautiful things for a house for a buyer, rather than a client. Luckily for us (and you!) Ford brought House Beautiful along to film the entire process. After eight months, thousands upon thousands of paint swatches, as well as some unexpected hurdles (like removing an entire second story), she is ready to reveal her charming renovation of a Sears, Roebuck & Co. bungalow.

ERIN KELLY “I believe that dreamy is the best way to describe the entire vibe of the house,” Ford said. The house, which Ford has made his signature style of layering neutrals, is light and bright and, Ford says, a bit quirky.

The Original Architecture

This house is just one of the 75,000 “kit” houses sold by Sears, Roebuck & Co. via its famous catalog from the mid 1900s to the mid 1940s. These homes are affordable, functional, and simple to assemble by any contractor.

COLDWELL-BANKER REAL EASTATE SERVICES “I have always wanted to build a Sears house so when I found one in my area, I was SO excited,” Ford told House Beautiful. Although the house she purchased had many of the same qualities that Ford likes, the interior was a little outdated and had some of its special features, such as a porch with pillars. Ford hired Williamson Construction to bring it back to its former glory and give it the Ford treatment.

The Renovation

Ford laughs, “Once you get going, it’s easy to keep going.” She thought it would be a three month project, but it quickly became more than twice that. Ford’s renovation required several structural changes. First, restore the porch that was originally enclosed by the previous owners. This is a great idea for winter, but it also detracts from the home’s original bones, making the interiors darker.
The designer says that opening it up was huge. “It’s so welcoming and lets in so much light. Ford was able to find the original Craftsman-style double column under the drywall and brought them back. She then painted the walls with her signature shade, white paint.

Erin KellyThe final touch to the porch’s design was the result of design genius: “A neighbor called me and said that he heard you were renovating Brookside. My grandma grew there and I have all the original Wicker furniture.” Ford rescued the pieces from the past, gave them new upholstery and then returned them to their original homes.
The porch was not the only structural change. Ford recalls that when she first visited the house, it was impossible to stand on the second floor. Ceilings were barely five feet high. Ford and his crew of Williamson were determined to raise the ceilings. They removed the second floor of their house and built a second floor with a normal ceiling height. The roof was then added. Ford says that it took him two weeks to find the right way to make the second floor work. We played with the layout back-and-forth and around again. There was no other way than to just cut off the top and raise it.
She took down the walls surrounding the kitchen to make it open and flowy for easier gatherings. She points out that the kitchen was often hidden in older homes. And how we live today, the kitchen is the center of the home. With these old homes, I think about how can we bring them back to their glory and get them into the party.
Ford made the most of the space by painting every interior the perfect color of white, which took some time to decide on. She laughs, “I’m pretty certain I looked at every single white paint on earth for this project.” The winner? Behr Dynasty in Crisp Lining for the walls, and Ultra Pure White for trim and doors. Hickman Woods was her partner in finding the perfect floors to create a uniform base. She settled on a rad Oak that has been bleached and sealed for an even lighter finish. Ford praises the tone.
It was then time to decorate.


ERIN KELLYThe starting point for this room was Ford’s experiment in her home kiln, where she glazed terra cotta tiles as a DIY. She explains that the tile was originally gray but after baking it it returned to its original terra cotta color. “Those warm tones became the inspiration for this room,” she says. Ford decided to remove the wall that separated the kitchen and living room. This palette was the basis for the entire house’s scheme.
Ford went further with this warm-meets–white look by using butcher block countertops that were sealed in whitewash. She says, “I wanted it have the casual softness that Craftsmans associate with.” The inviting neutral palette is completed by bronze notes in the range, a pot rack and lots of mixed metals, such as copper pots and vintage serveware.
Cabinets: Unique kitchens and baths. Sink: Farmhouse Double Bowl in Pearl by Native Trails Faucet: Rohl. Range: Cafe Appliances. Dishwasher and Microwave by GE. Hood cover: Surecrete.

Dining Room

ERIN KELLYFound in the living and kitchen, Ford added texture by pairing a vintage bench with her Aya Table for Crate & Barrel. This table is weather-resistant and will develop a patina over time. The top is finished with a vintage white light from Construction Junction in Pittsburgh. She says, “I love having a bit of that industrial look.” Window seats make the most of the small space. Ford states, “It’s not big so you have to make it useful.”

Living Area


Ford paired her Ever sofas from Crate & Barrel and a vintage table topped in marble to create another seating area. She says, “We didn’t have marble in our kitchen, but we wanted to add that texture somewhere.”
Floors: Hickman woods. Windows: Pella. Fireplace: Surecrete. Original BTC Lights



Aliyah Sadaf’s art in Ford’s preferred color palette of white and Terracotta adds the right amount texture. She says that Craftsmen are a simple design she loves. “So even though I have some funk, my design is simple and clean. It’s not too done.”

Primary Bedroom

ERIN KELLYThe layout of the home presented a unique challenge for the primary bedroom. Ford said that she loves to have the bed as the only thing in the space, and it makes the room feel spacious. Her plan was complicated by two off-center windows. This is because putting the bed in the center of the room would draw attention to its awkward placement. Ford hung gauzy linen curtains across the entire wall of windows to hide their location. It gives the space an airy quality and also adds an element of mystery.
Leanne Ford, Crate and Barrel. Mattress: ” data-vars-ga-product-id=”da458e7f-329e-4b5b-934b-9e3ff741f451″ data-vars-ga-product-price=”0.00″ data-vars-ga-product-sem3-brand=”” data-vars-ga-product-sem3-category=”” data-vars-ga-product-sem3-id=”” data-affiliate-network=”” data-vars-ga-media-type=”” data-affiliate=”true”>Avocado.Windows: Pella.

Primary Bathroom

Ford says that ERIN KELLYA’s Vast Studio tub is a “big inspiration”. To make the room splash-resistant, she used mixed metals to accent the floors and walls.
Mirrors: Garden Style Living. Tub: Vast Studio.

Children’s Room

ERIN KELLY “This was my first real chance to use a lot more of my Crate line in a job, and it was so much fun!” Ford says. Ford says the Canyon bed with its dramatic arching canopy makes it the ideal sculptural centerpiece of the room.

Children’s Bathroom

ERIN KELLYHere Ford was inspired from her childhood bathroom. To protect the privacy of the sink, she created a separate toilet area so that no one can access it. Two vintage mirrors from Garden Style Living are used to give twin sinks a cohesive look. They were both painted the same crisp white and matched with matching vintage mirrors. These mirrors look great with square Zia tile.


Erin Kelly
Ford sourced the print from Pize KC during a trip to Round Top, TX’s antiques fair. This is the biggest splash of color in the house. Vintage desk and light.


Erin Kelly “The basement is still a basement. But we thought why not make it cute and useful?” Ford used salvaged doors, some original to her house and some she sourced from nearby, as a backdrop for the textural elements.

Erin Kelly

Leanne Ford’s Furniture for Crate & Barrel

Ever Slipcovered Sofa by Leanne Fordcrateandbarrel.com $2,299.00

Aya Natural Wood Dining Table by Leanne Fordcrateandbarrel.com $1,699.00

Hugger Curved Boucle Sofa by Leanne Fordcrateandbarrel.com $2,199.00

Canyon Arched Canopy Bed by Leanne Fordcrate and barrelcrateandbarrel.com $1,799.00

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