HGTV's Leanne Ford swears by these simple, renter-friendly DIY tips – they bring classic warmth and playfulness to her niece's nursery

The HGTV sensation designed a nursery for her niece. It's defined by innovative DIY details – in our exclusive interview, she explains how to replicate the look

leanne ford and the pink nursery she designed
(Image credit: Amanda Edwards via Getty Images for Discovery, Inc./ Crate + Barrel)

When HGTV's Leanne Ford set out to design her niece's nursery, she was given free rein to use her creative license and design the baby room of her dreams. With one small caveat: the home is a rental.

Luckily, Ford is a do-it-yourself veteran: from her years of experience as an interior designer to her time renovating on popular home-oriented shows like Restored with the Fords and Rock the Block; the acclaimed designer knows her way around an easy, affordable, and rental-friendly DIY project. In our exclusive interview on the playful space she designed in partnership with Crate & Barrel using Crate&kids furniture, she gave us all of her secrets. The stylish look includes pieces from Leanne's own Crate & Barrel collection.

'Since this is a rental, we weren't going to do any construction to get texture on the walls or do anything interesting in that form. So, how do you bring warmth and character to the space? Two things. The first was a coat of paint,' Ford told Homes & Gardens of her nursery idea.

the pink nursery leanne ford designed for her niece

(Image credit: Crate + Barrel)

Ford's sister-in-law's sole request was that the room be painted in the sweet and playful mauve shade Vintage Charm from Behr. However, Leanne has never been one to slap up a coat of paint and be done: she's all about precision and detail. She tells Homes & Gardens:  'One thing that can make a big difference, crazy enough, is to paint the ceiling. A lot of times people just don't paint the ceiling. I'm like “who told everybody don't touch the ceiling”? Because it's such an essential part of the space. By painting the ceiling you connect the whole space visually.'

Leanne took the ceiling idea even further by adding some affordable DIY-moulding. She continues, 'We put a medallion up which is easy to do. We just got a medallion from Amazon and painted it to match the ceiling. That created another element in this very simple room.'

Details seem to be an essential part of her design philosophy. Ford states: 'We also painted the inside of the closet which makes a huge difference. You open it, there's all these cute little pretty things, and now it feels like an additional space in the room.'

the pink nursery leanne ford designed for her niece

(Image credit: Crate + Barrel)

The second way that Ford created visual interest in the calming nursery is by using simple line drawings as wall decor. She says: 'I had my friend Alex Mayr-Graycik do the charcoal. She's an incredible fine artist and jewelry designer and I had her do really beautiful simple charcoal. I wanted it to feel like a little ode to French-Parisian style, without being kind of ridiculous. We did this simple box trim she came over and cranked that out in an hour.'

the pink nursery leanne ford designed for her niece

(Image credit: Crate + Barrel)

Ford opines, 'The fun thing about charcoal is that you can't do it too perfectly, it's impossible, so you don't even try. You let it be simple and rough and imperfect, and you lean into that, and I love how it looks. I think it's so sweet.' 

If you're considering installing a look like this in your own child's, Ford warns it's essential to balance the beauty of this kind of design with functionality. 'When the baby starts touching everything, you don't want that rubbing everywhere, so we did do it with multiple cup coats of fixative,' she advises.

Leanne Ford's overall advice for DIYer's who've chosen to paint a room? 'Don't be too precious with it,' she tells H&G. She continues, 'I think the joy of paint is your worst case scenario is you paint over it. The charcoal is fun and easy and you paint over it when you leave.'

News Editor

I am a London-based News Editor at Homes & Gardens. My interests lie at the intersection of design and popular culture focusing on trends and celebrity homes. Before joining Future, I worked as a Content Writer and Communications Lead for Fig Linens and Home, a luxury linens and home interiors brand. I have a BA in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College and an MSc from the Oxford University Department of Anthropology.