Reading Work in Progress: Unconventional Thoughts on Designing an Extraordinary Life by Leanne Ford and Steve Ford | Favorite Home Shows

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Work in Progress: Unconventional Thoughts on Designing an Extraordinary Life  by Leanne Ford and Steve Ford

Published by Thomas Nelson, October 29, 2019

Genre: Memoir

Format: I audiobooked this one via purchased Audible

My husband and I had our second baby in June, so I've spent the last few months with an infant in my arms. Rather than stare at the wall while holding her, I splurged on Discovery + and have been alternating between gazing into my little gal's eyes and watching amazing real estate transformations unfold in 30-minute segments. 

Here are my top four series this summer:

Unsellable Houses

What a smart concept in a buyer's market! The Lamb sisters, Lyndsay Lamb and Leslie Davis, find stale real estate listings and offer the owners a deal. They will invest 40k of their own money into a remodel, use their contractors, manage the project, and sell the finished home. Once the house sells, they will recoup their original 40k from the sales price plus half of whatever the house sold for above the owner's original list price. These ladies are fun, pro, and scaling fast. Though sometimes their finished designs are "noisier" than I like, the transformations are magic. Check out Lamb & Co.

Lesson from Lyndsay and Leslie: Your brand (twins with VW buses) is a way for you to share part of your personality.

Flip or Flop, Flipping 101, and Christina on the Coast

Any HGTV fan has watched Tarek and Christina "grow up" on their shows. I stumbled on the newest offshoots of their franchise this month: Flipping 101 and Christina on the Coast. In Flipping 101, Tarek takes a new flipper "under his wing" and mentors them through the process of flipping their own real estate investment. Christina on the Coast is a typical design flipping show where Christina will meet with a family, redesign three rooms of their home, and show them the "reveal" at the end. I don't know how I get sucked into these. The "story" of most rehab shows is the "problem" they run into during the first act: there are rodents in the attic! The whole house needs rewiring! Our tile is out of stock! In these shows the more interesting storyline is the tension between Tarek and Christina.

Lesson from Tarek and Christina: Back story (and herringbone subway tile) is everything.

No Demo Reno

Jenn Todryk is an Instagram influencer from DFW. Though she's open about her health battles that sometimes impact her energy level, if she feels low, she hides it well. From tap dancing across her stories to trying the latest Tik Tok challenge with her game husband Mike, this lady is warm and energetic. Her transformations are fun to watch (TWO per episode??), but even better is seeing such a genuine, down-to-earth lady find more of a spotlight. See the Todryk's coffee shop.

Lesson from the Todryk's: Play more--board games, video games, trampoline.

Home Again with the Fords

Leanne and Steve Ford are an older bro / younger sister pair from Pittsburgh. The premise of the show is that Leanne and Steve help people return home by updating outdated childhood homes. When I was watching the show, I didn't notice that "returning home" was what tied each of the homeowners together in the series. Generally, the problem arises each episode when Leanne, the designer, has a idea for something beautiful (but tricky to accomplish) that Steve and his wood shop buddy have to make work.

Listening to their memoir, this pattern makes sense. Steve was running a clothing store when Leanne was working on her first major renovation. See her schoolhouse project here. She wanted to install a beautiful tub in a bathroom attic, but all the contractors she spoke with said it would be impossible. She enlisted the help of her brother, who solved the problem and discovered a love of construction along the way. 

Though I think some home design stars get pushed into book deals before they have much to say, and audiobook might not be the best format for a home design memoir, I enjoyed this one. Steve and Leanne alternate narrating their parts of the book. The book struck me as a reflection and a pep talk. I left the listening experience with the idea that these are two people who have stood their ground, doing exactly what they'd like. 

Lesson from the Fords: Success may be a side effect of going after what you want, but joy is the real treasure. 


"If you aren't making anyone nervous, you aren't doing anything special." 


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