HGTV is kicking up the edge with their original programming and newest glittery offering, Rock the Block, set to premiere Monday night. With just four weeks and a budget of $175,000, four of the network's top renovation experts square off in a battle royale of morphing identical properties into the ultimate suburban oasis. One of the series stars competing for top honors of beating the best in the business while showing off her distinctive vision through cutting-edge designs is Restored by the Fords designer, Leanne Ford.
While opening up about her debut memoir, Work in Progress: Unconventional Thoughts on Designing an Extraordinary Life set to release Oct. 29 and written alongside Restored by the Fords co-star and older brother, Steve Ford, the 38-year-old interior designer tells PopCulture.com exclusively that she was incredibly moved by how exciting the whole project really was.
"It was so fun to film!" Ford told PopCulture.com. "We really came away, Steve was my supporting actor, but it was all about these four women, and we each did our own take on a brand-new home."
While Ford admits she first assumed all the homes were "going to look alike," she was in absolute awe to see how different everything looked upon its grand finale, respectively designed by her co-star designers, Jasmine Roth of Hidden Potential, Mina Starsiak of Good Bones, and Alison Victoria of Windy City Rehab.
"I just thought, well we all have similar taste, [but] they do not look alike at all," Ford said of the four homes. "It was really fun to do this kind of practice. It was like an interior design of a test, almost. We had a great time. We really loved all the ladies. They're all incredible, so it turned out to be a great project."
But while it turned out to be a great project, she admits that despite the designing women thinking otherwise, the Pittsburgh native really wasn't competitive about the whole thing at all.
"I am not competitive at all, which maybe goes back to the concept in our memoir, Work in Progress, but I was like, 'Okay you guys, I will do this show, but I'm not here to win. I'm here to make a good-looking house.' And they're like, 'Okay, Leanne.' The other girls, they thought my non-competitive nature was my secret competitive angle. [But] it wasn't," she laughed. "I just really was minding my own business because for me, design is art and art is subjective. How they did the competition made sense. It was about adding value, and that is objective, so that was smarter, so I get it."
Ford reiterates for her, personally, it's always about the art. "Design's art. I am not good at adding value. Appraisers don't love me, I'll tell you that," she laughed.
Enlisting the help of her big brother Steve, he jokingly admits to PopCulture.com that the coolest part about watching his sister take on the mega project with the other designers was in his realization of "how nice she is."
"It's funny because when you have four women in a competitive environment, they're all so nice and friendly," Steve said. "But I think Leanne and I are definitely the most stress-free of the two. [But] it was just a lot of fun, and it was fun to see everybody together."
"Those girls are so are so intense," Ford interjects. "They're very intense. [Steve] was like, 'You never realized how chill I was until now.' I was like, 'You're welcome, Steve.'"
With the four women using each home as a direct reflection of their style, the network states in a press release that the winner will not only gain the satisfaction taking top honors, but they'll be getting a street named after them. With endless possibilities in both design and construction, a range of network personalities star in Rock the Block, including Property Brothers star, Drew Scott as host and guest judges, Tarek El Moussa, Mike Holmes, and Brian and Mika Kleinschmidt.
With the four-episode series leading the charge in creative programming among HGTV's growing catalog of home design and renovation shows, Ford reveals one of the most rewarding and fun parts to the series was how great her home turned out.
"I loved how my house turned out," Ford stressed. "It was so fun to kind of do it how I would do it because we didn't have clients — this is a new build. When you have clients, you take care of the clients, you take care of their budget, you take care of what their needs and that's a different challenge and that's special too. But for this, I got to do whatever I want, and I really made it a home that I wanted to live in, and I did. I was sad to leave it, which is always a good sign."
With Ford and her brother Steve having so much to celebrate this month, including their debut memoir detailing their journey from Pittsburgh to HGTV, including the beliefs that have inspired them and the experiences that have challenged them along the way, the two admit if they had to tackle a competition against each other in Rock the Block style, there would be one clear winner: Steve.
"I would," Steve laughed.
"Steve would sledgehammer harder," Ford adds.
"I would. We're talking about having a party, a block party?" Steve asks, to which PopCulture.com adds it's "HGTV style, so however you want."
"We would rock the block very differently, I would say," Ford laughed, adding how it would be with a lot of "white paint," a signature favorite of the mom-of-one. "Yeah, I'd be over there decorating, and Steve would be setting up the DJ booth."
"I'd be on the dance floor and DJ," Steve adds.0comments
Stay tuned for more with Leanne and Steve Ford only on PopCulture.com sharing all about their debut memoir, Work in Progress: Unconventional Thoughts on Designing an Extraordinary Life, set to release Oct. 29.
Rock the Block airs Monday night at 9 p.m. ET on HGTV.