Setting the Standard: Interior Design Tips from Kelly LaPlante

Designer Kelly LaPlante shares her secrets for mixing old and new.

| May/June 2011

Interior designer and writer Kelly LaPlante lives by the mantra “green is a standard, not a style,” as she designs living spaces that focus on smart reuse and historic preservation. She shares her many ideas via her online magazine, Standard, as well as through books and television appearances. She designed this Los Angeles dining area for Robert Kwak (owner of nontoxic children’s furniture company Muu), his wife, Eunhak, and their children.

What inspired this room?

The owners have a fantastic and diverse art collection. A lot of the pieces were scattered about, and I felt like they needed a home base. Because they have young children, they wanted a dining area that felt fun and unfussy for when someone, say, throws scrambled eggs across the room. But, of course, they also wanted to be able to entertain adult friends in a chic environment.

Where did the materials come from?

The Bertoia chairs are from a neighbor’s garage sale. We found the two end chairs at a vintage store and reupholstered them in Knoll Velvet (like they used to do in the old days when things were crafted to last). The tabletop is a marble slab from the lobby of an old building in downtown L.A. that was being renovated. We found the table base at Olde Good Things, one of my favorite sources for items with great history and patina. The chandelier was in Eunhak’s mother’s house in the ’80s. We loved incorporating an ’80s touch while also adding a bit of elegance.
What are the benefits of creative reuse/using secondhand items in decorating?

In addition to the obvious eco-benefits (no new resources, diversion of old things from landfill, etc.), I am a big fan of items that have a story. Why buy new bar stools when you can get a set from the bar where you partied when you were in college?

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