The HGTV star shows off his new home, designed with his sister and co-star, Leanne

By Mackenzie Schmidt
May 21, 2019 02:10 PM

When Steve Ford found his future dream home, it was an unlivable industrial warehouse — which was exactly what he wanted.

On HGTV’s Restored by the Fords, in which the Pittsburgh-based contractor stars alongside his sister, interior designer Leanne, Steve spends his days revamping other people’s houses. But for the hit series’ season 2 finale, the siblings tackled a more personal project: his industrial loft!

While their typical TV makeover projects are properties that need a style refresh, Steve’s recently purchased space required a total transformation.

“As far as I know, the building was previously used as a heavy machinery garage. It was completely uncared for, which is exactly what I needed,” Steve tells PEOPLE exclusively. He was so excited to call it home, in fact, that he moved in before it was technically habitable.

“Yes, I was a squatter in my own home,” he jokes. “I moved in immediately, broken windows and all.”

Credit: Reid Rolls
Credit: Reid Rolls
Credit: Reid Rolls

The duo got to work making the ramshackle structure a functional live/work space and keeping the industrial feel. “I wanted to stay authentic to the vibe of the building,” he says. That included, “warehouse windows, concrete floors, concrete countertops and sinks.” Though the newly minted TV star did splurge on one luxury feature: “to spoil myself, a steam shower.”

In addition to making it a suitable crash pad for when he’s not filming, Steve needed to make the space functional for himself, his business and, and of course, his dog.

Credit: Reid Rolls
Credit: Reid Rolls

“My building functions as a work space and a living space, so there are many people who come and go throughout the day, but mostly my good friend and carpenter Ed Zeiler,” he explains. But, “at the end of the day, it’s me and my pup Yoko.”

His handy friends also helped renovate the rooms while Steve was on the road for Restored by the Fords. “Luckily there weren’t too many mishaps. The biggest challenge was probably using so much concrete — about 15 to 20 trucks’ worth,” he says.

Credit: Reid Rolls

Once construction was complete, Steve was excited to be his sisters’ client for once. “I usually do what Leanne wants [on the show], but on this project, we did what I want,” he says. “If there was anything we would have butt heads on, she let me win.”

Now, he says, the completed space, “feels like home because we essentially built my dream house. I think this place represents my personality to a T. Plus, I can look around and remember the experience, which makes it all that much better.”

You can watch the full transformation on the season finale of Restored by the Fords Tuesday, May 21, at 11/10C on HGTV.

The Ford siblings are also gearing up to release their first book together. Work In Progress: Unconventional Thoughts On Designing An Extraordinary Life comes out October 29. (Get a first look at the cover above!)