A successful interior design business, a popular HGTV series, and charming furniture collections have established Leanne Ford’s design playbook: She is a minimalist. She loves rustic neutrals, playing with straight edges and curves. She designs for comfort. But the birth of her first child, a little girl named Ever, thrust her into a children’s aisle that many parents are familiar with—one full of bright, glittery, expensive, flashing, over-the-top items with short lifespans—obviously an uncomfortable place for a minimalist to live.
Her new collection for Crate & Kids fills some of the spaces between Leanne’s timeless, uncomplicated style and the scintillating, flashy things that wow children—a mix of form, fun, and function. The collection features items that can transform as the baby does, from a glider that becomes a living room chair, to an ottoman that Leanne says will store, “all those light-up plastic pieces that grandma buys.”
It also celebrates play. A traditional rocking horse is transformed into a rock and roll motorcycle. The textiles in the collection, which were designed by Leanne’s good friend Carly Kuhn, a.k.a. The Cartorialist, feature Doc Martens with flowers in them, elephants with guitars, and wildflowers driving. As a final seal of approval, one-year-old Ever was asked her opinion and simply signed “more” in baby sign language. Yes, Ever, we want more, too.
Clever: What inspired you to create a children’s collection?
Leanne: I was mostly inspired by what I wanted to find for Ever, but to be honest I wasn’t very interested in anything baby until I joined the ranks of motherhood and had her. That was when I realized how fun and special shopping for these pieces is, and also how hard it is to find what I want.
I realized most of the designs that were interesting to me were being sold over in Europe, and were hard to get here in the U.S. I was looking for pieces that I would be happy to have in my life and in my beautiful home. I was on the hunt for baby pieces that didn’t take away from the serenity and style that I had created in the rest of the house. So, being the luckiest mom/designer in the world I had the opportunity to just make them.
Children are often marketed bright, colorful things and bright things do catch their attention, even if they are inelegant. What is behind the choice to use a neutral palette?
I wanted to create a space that was simple and serene but still very easy, inspired, and joyful. Let’s face it, the bright and shiny pieces will make their way into every house eventually, so while we can, let’s choose what we want to live with ourselves.
That being said, how much of the collection was designed for children and how much was designed with parents in mind?
Almost everything was designed with both of our clients in mind, baby and parent. Clean cool lines and simple colors so the parents enjoy looking at them, but ultra-soft comfy materials so the kids can feel safe and cozy. We also designed mini furniture pieces for them inspired by “big kid” stuff. After having my own daughter, I realized I didn’t want everything to be only neutral so I did add a beautiful suntan shade of dusty pink and a deep indigo blue.
Children’s furniture has a quick turnover. Why make it last?
Such a great question! For a couple of reasons. First of all, I want these pieces to live a very long happy life, passed through friends and family, and back around again. And secondly, I was hoping to create pieces that could live a second life in your own home. The baby Willy table will make a great coffee table or side table. The ottoman will make great extra seating in your living room, the kid’s shelving can have a new life as a console table. And the crib can be converted to be your kiddo’s first bed. So now that I think about it, maybe you won’t be passing as much on.
Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest