Pairing her flair for a warm design style with his cool, renovation expertise, dynamic brother-sister duo, Leanne Ford and Steve Ford of HGTV's Restored by the Fords might be best known for upgrading historic homes, but the two are taking another inventive turn with their latest endeavor. In between making restoration dreams come alive and blessing homes with immense depth and interest, the Ford siblings are gearing up for the release of their debut memoir, Work in Progress: Unconventional Thoughts on Designing an Extraordinary Life, out Tuesday, Oct. 29.
With the book detailing how the two quirky and artsy Pittsburgh-born siblings made it on HGTV, while continuing to learn and grow along the way, the rightful king and queen of eclectic-design and panache reveal how they never let fear get in the way of a great idea and how fans can turn dreams into reality.
In an exclusive with PopCulture.com ahead of their mega milestone's release on Tuesday, the gracious and humble siblings share details about their journey in writing their forthcoming memoir and why now was the right time for the HGTV stars, fresh off A Very Brady Renovation and currently starring in Rock the Block, to share their story with fans.
"It's funny writing a memoir when you're in your late 30s, early 40s. It's just about, the concept is we are 'works in progress.' Our story, if all goes well, is not over yet," Leanne told PopCulture.com. "This is just part of it. A lot of people were asking how we got involved in HGTV, which the story is long and winding, and I thought it was important for people to understand that. But also, everybody's asking how we got to where we are and how we weren't afraid to fail, or weren't nervous about this career path. I think as we've talked about it and we analyzed it, it became more important to share that story."
Leanne's brother, Steve agrees and says writing the book was a "great opportunity," especially as he got to do it with his little sister. "It was just a pleasure to get involved with it," he said.
With stories shared by the two stylized most naturally through conversational dialogue spoken between the two siblings most charmingly, Leanne admits the book came about exactly like that.
"It pretty much was [back and forth]," Leanne said of the unique collaboration. "And then obviously things go away, we separated and then we tweaked it and moved it around. Everything was a lot of cut and pasting, but we did sit down and really discuss where we were and where we were at these times in our life, and how they kind of intertwined and overlapped, and what we wanted to share."
Leanne adds that while she's a big "reader and writer," it was a "big project for Steve."
"This was definitely overcoming some obstacles for me because I haven't ever been someone that really read books or thought I'd write a book," Steve admits. "That has always been difficult for me. I think that's personally why I have a much smaller part in it than Leanne, thankfully. [But] it was cool."
One of the coolest aspects fans will appreciate in the Ford memoir is the nuggets of wisdom shared at the end of each chapter that outline various methods of self-reflection and thought, titled "Working on Progress." With tips and questions aimed for the reader, Leanne said it was an important addition to the book for one key reason.
"I wanted to make this more about everybody than just us," she said. "I wanted there to be something to kind of inspire and create an opportunity for people to think differently and we do in our design, hopefully."
She adds that her favorite kind of sidebar from both the show and what they do on HGTV is inspiring people to think differently about their homes.
"They can do something special in their home and then this book was the same deal," Leanne said. "Like, 'All right, this is what we lived through, this is what we're talking about, who do you know that you can kind of spread some love to?' or 'This is just to think differently to get your wheels turning.'"
While the two detail how they followed their dreams, took refuge in the strength of family and faith, and never let fear get in the way of their ideas, one of the biggest aspects Leanne and Steve dive into with their life's story across 14 chapters is the weight of loss and failure — something society is now only starting to open up a dialogue about, and Leanne admits is "changing" thanks to voices and coaches like Brené Brown. When the two turned in their completed manuscript to their publishers, she discloses someone had sent her one of Brown's talks and it was then she had a moment of exhilaration.
"I was thinking, 'Oh my gosh, this is aligned with what we're talking about!'" the mother-of-one said. "I'm so happy that [our book] is telling a subject that people are accepting of themselves more and of each other. Perfection is not possible, so why is everybody aiming for it? Why don't we relax and enjoy it?"
She adds that one of her favorite things that came out of her while writing the memoir was the creative process called "life," quipping "Who knows where that came from? But that's so true. It's a living, breathing process, and we need to calm down. We all need to calm down."
With a no holds barred outlook, the two also get very candid in their memoir about the healing process behind the death of their father in the heartwarming fifth chapter, titled "The Lucky Ones," which has the siblings baring it all.
"Time is a very beautiful healer," Leanne said. "I think I talked about this [in the book], but when it first happened, you just don't think you can function. And then as time goes by, you kind of look back and you think, 'Wow, I'm having good days.' Humans are resilient. It really is mind-blowing when you kind of break it down and think about it."
With the acknowledgement that death and grief are not taught or discussed much in our society from an early age, Leanne admits it's our job as parents or our parents' jobs to open up that conversation. "They need to prepare us for feeling and going through all those emotions, The stages of grief are very real. The first one is denial, and you don't even realize it is happening, and that's good. That's a wonderful gift, denial," she laughed.
Another part of their life revealed within the book are details regarding Leanne's first marriage, an aspect she had her doubts in initially sharing and putting to paper for the world to read.
"[It] was a very big debate of what to say about that," she admits. " I didn't want to ignore the fact that I was married because it was obviously an important part of my life, but I wanted to be very respectful of my first husband. Just did a couple paragraphs just to kind of explain what it was, I felt important to do, but to not dwell on it. Obviously, there's no ill feelings. I wanted it to be out of kindness, which I hope translated."
Going on to say how it was a "touchy subject" considering it's about somebody else and their life as well, she "just really wanted to be very respectful of it" and ensure it was all very eloquent.
"We've all had failed relationships in one way or another — well, I guess some people married their first love, which they're very lucky. But for the rest of us, we've all had relationships fail and it always seems like it's the end of the world. When you look at it from the other side, you realize, 'Oh my gosh, that was such a wonderful thing,'" she said.
When PopCulture.com interjects how it can be a "blessing in hindsight," Leanne adds, "Thank goodness for that, but failure turns out to be an important tool for our path."
Steve adds that among the biggest things he and his sister want fans to take away from their debut memoir is not to let fear get in the way of their journey.
"The failure part, that seems to be a big topic and discussion [in the book]," Steve said. "I think people should go into it, [if] they have a creative outlet or some sort of business they want to start or whatever they want to do, not let that fear of it not working out the way they imagine it to be or publicly want it to be keep them from trying."
"It's all forward motion," Leanne adds. "I think that's what people need to understand. In success and failure, it's all forward motion, so it's a good thing."0comments
She goes on to share the biggest takeaway she considers crucial for the reader is also allowing oneself to break and just enjoy life. "Don't be so hard on yourself. You're going to change paths and most likely you're going to change careers, statistically. You don't need to have it all figured out right now."
Rock the Block airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET on HGTV, and Leanne and Steve Ford's debut memoir, Work in Progress: Unconventional Thoughts on Designing an Extraordinary Life, hits store shelves nationwide and digital retailers on Oct. 29.