Photography by Trevor Smith

Leanne Ford

Interior Designer

| Echo Park

Leanne Ford is a force to be reckoned with— when we meet her at her new Echo Park home, she’s clad in pared down painter pants and an oversize jean jacket, seemingly unphased by the gut reno she’s just signed herself up for. As we walk around the barebones space— the former home of a silent movie star and likely the very first residence of the neighborhood, BTW— Ford chats changing floorboards and putting in proper plumbing without so much as a wink; in fact, she’s lighting up. Her palpable fearlessness and imagination are, of course, what make her such an incredible interior designer; from her very first project (a 1907-schoolhouse-turned-home), she’s converted ever-challenging sites into jaw-dropping spaces— in Los Angeles, New York and, alongside her brother Steve, in her hometown of Pittsburgh for their TV series, Restored by the Fords. Regularly featured in décor glossies like Domino, ELLE Décor and Martha Stewart, Ford’s work is warm, approachable, easy, and yet, deftly cool (a description that could easily sum up the designer herself too). But, alas, as we get lost in Ford’s newest daydream, she tells us she’s ready to shoot in T-minus one quick wardrobe change, and within seconds, she’s traded in worn painter pants for a wistful vintage dress. Funnily enough, we have a feeling that’s just what she’ll do with this house too. Here, Ford sits down with CITIPHILE to reveal her little black book on LA.

NEIGHBORHOOD STANDBY: Cafe Stella (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x)! My babe and I always share the French onion soup, arugula salad and steak-frites which goes perfectly with a bottle of French red wine.

COFFE OR TEA: Tea, always and forever. The best cup in town is at Valerie (MAP IT, x) because they brew a full pot for you. Plus, it goes perfectly with their delicious, daily quiches.

ALL-TIME FAVORITE RESTAURANT: Chez Jay (MAP IT, x)! It’s the best hole-in-the-wall spot with the best steak and potatoes dinner, the best martini and, most importantly, the best juke box.

COCKTAIL DE LA NUIT: A Tito’s martini with one olive at Figaro (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x). We love to go visit Scott, our favorite bartender, because he makes the best martinis (which are on special on Monday night), then walk down to the tiny theatre, Los Feliz 3 (MAP IT, x) for a movie.

AFTER-WORK HAPPY HOUR: El Condor on Sunset Boulevard (MAP IT, x) is a perfect spot for happy hour. They have the best spicy jalapeño margaritas and it’s a fun, easy scene.

LADIES LUNCH: Sawyer on Sunset Boulevard (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x) is a perfect brunch/lunch spot for the girls. They have great drinks and the outside area is beautiful and not too loud (since girl time is all about chatting away).

WHERE TO BRING OUT-OF-TOWNERS: The Chateau Marmont (MAP IT, x)— it’s the perfect reality of the fantasy of LA.

MUSIC PICK: Good Times at Davey Wayne’s in Hollywood (MAP IT, x)– hands-down! They play the best classic rock and rock-n’-roll from the ‘70s— it’s mostly vinyl, except for when they have the most amazing cover bands play all the hits— but, it has such a good vibe and makes for a fun dance party. Ask for bartender Jason!

BEST PEOPLE WATCHING: I still love to watch people being picked up at the airport— so much love. It’s funny in LA too because you have about five seconds to connect, kiss and get the heck out of there before the police threaten to write you a ticket! So, people smile, kiss… and then shove their loved one in the car.

HEALTHY STAPLE: I love the vegetarian spot Sage on Sunset Boulevard (MAP IT, x). I usually order a juice and get one of their great salads. And, I typically have to get the “hot wings” too which are tempura-battered cauliflower in buffalo wing sauce— yum.

GUILTY PLEASURE: The Park (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x) has half-price off bottle of wine nights and the best dessert specialties— now, that’s a good combination.

LA’S BEST-KEPT SECRET: Chez Jay.

FIRST THING I MISS WHEN I’M AWAY:  My house and the incredible gang of friends that I have here… and the sunshine.

REGULAR AT: I love the stuff at Filth Mart (MAP IT, x)— they have the best vintage and vintage-inspired tees. I have a lot of their stuff and it’s all made here in LA.

DATE NIGHT STANDBY: Speranza (MAP IT, x) is super cozy and it’s a nice scene. I am all about good lighting and great ambiance. You sit among the trees with strung lights hanging above you and the food is delicious.

DELIVERY GO-TO: I love Gingergrass (MAP IT, ORDER IT, x), but they only do take-out so we Postmates it. Their chicken and veggie pho is pretty perfect.

TO SEE AND BE SEEN: Tenants of the Trees (MAP IT, x) on Tuesday— it’s a super fun dance party once everyone forgets to try to be cool.

TO ESCAPE AND UNWIND: I take a towel and a book to Venice Beach. But, you have to go early and you have to go close to the water otherwise it’s anything but relaxing.

GO-TO GETAWAY: The Old Place in Malibu Canyon (MAP IT, x) is the best day trip/getaway/food and music spot. It’s the most beautiful cruise there (take the long way) and the food is perfect— think a huge plate of steak and potatoes and salad and a side of mushrooms… Mmmm. They have a standup piano inside and there’s usually a couple of people playing their guitars or banjos out on the front porch. It’s my perfect Sunday.

CLOSET CHECK: My style is pretty easy and laid-back. I’m a, “casual but with heels; a dress, but with bare feet” kind-of-girl if that makes sense. That combination comes through in my interior design as well. I love when the mix of all worlds comes together. To shop, the best vintage vendors come out to the farmer’s market on Sunset Boulevard (MAP IT, x) on Saturdays.

BEST HOME DÉCOR: My interior style is lived in, casual, comfortable, but well curated. I love so many different aesthetics so it all depends on what the vibe of the actual house is. I usually mix styles, but keep a color story so it feels good to the eye. For décor, I absolutely want every single home find in County LTD (MAP IT, x). I want every chair, every ceramic, every lighting fixture… Also, Lawson-Fenning (MAP IT, x) is a great go-to for accessories and table top pieces; they have really beautiful things in there. I wouldn’t necessarily call it a “steal,” but Amsterdam Modern (MAP IT, x) has the most gorgeously curated furniture from Holland and I want everything there too!

QUOTIDIAN KEEPER: Abaya Alterations (MAP IT, x).

BEST HOST/HOSTESS GIFTS: Broome Street General Store (MAP IT, x). You can’t go wrong getting a host or hostess gift there, plus you can get yourself a coffee too! If they have any Swarm of Bees candles, buy them up! (But, save one for me please!)

FOR HIM: Buck Mason on Sunset Boulevard (MAP IT, x) has the best men’s tee shirts and jeans; that place is no-fail— you can’t go wrong; everything inside is easy and cool. (And I designed the store!)

BEAUTY BLACK BOOK: The Now— I go to the ones in Santa Monica (x) and Hollywood (x), but rumor is that they are opening one around here soon too. So, if I go missing, that’s where you can send for me. It’s a great price for an incredible massage and the space is beautiful.

ULTIMATE LA MOMENT: Until recently I was still doing creative direction for different brands, and for one of our shoots, we got permission from the city to shoot AT and ON the Hollywood sign. So, the permit officer unlocked the gate for us and off we went down the hill RIGHT to the sign— I have pictures kissing the H. I thought about how many people on the planet have seen and know that sign, but have never been able to be close to it. It was pretty special. LA has a magic to it, that’s for sure. CP

Leanne’s LA

From L to R: First Row: Chair from County LTD; Textiles from Lawson-Fenning; Sunset Blvd. Farmers Market; Broome Street General Store. Second Row: Brunch at Sawyer; Ceramics from County LTD; Amsterdam Modern; Buck Mason.

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