L.A. designer Kelly LaPlante shows how to give salvaged materials stylish new purpose
1 of 14Photo by Thomas J. Story; styling by Miranda Jones
Leveraging your assets
For Kelly LaPlante, a leading Los Angeles-based interior designer, author, television host, and mother, green design isn't just about choosing fabrics and furniture made from sustainable materials. She prefers to help her clients find new use―and often unexpected new love―for things they already own. "There's nothing more green than keeping what you have," she says. Her own Venice loft is proof that hand-me-downs and thrift-store finds can rise to stylish new purpose.
2 of 14Photography by Thomas J. Story; styling by Miranda Jones
The dining table was brown and had belonged to a client. “They were going to throw it away,” says LaPlante, who saw potential in its curves.
After being revived with a punch of bold red low-VOC paint (try shiny-finish Sophia by Bungaloo, mybungaloo.com), it’s the star of her dining area.
3 of 14Photography by Thomas J. Story; styling by Miranda Jones
Rather than adding new floor covering, LaPlante stripped decades of paint from her loft's concrete floor. "The patina that had developed from all those years is beautiful," she says. "We just had the floor buffed and called it a day."
Strategically placed area rugs keep rooms cozy.
4 of 14Photography by Thomas J. Story
LaPlante's partner Mike Rader relaxes on a used sofa in the living area. She paid just $200 for it, had the cushions steam-cleaned (about $30), and repainted the trim a glossy white.
5 of 14Photography by Thomas J. Story; styling by Miranda Jones
LaPlante often rethinks definition to find the perfect fit for objects. Here, she uses an outdoor garden stool as an indoor side table.
6 of 14Photography by Thomas J. Story; styling by Miranda Jones
LaPlante sits atop a thrifted chaise that she upgraded with 6 yards of eco-friendly velvet fabric (Knoll Velvet #K784, $122 per yard; 866/565-5858). The legs were also freshly painted to match the sofa’s.
7 of 14Photography by Thomas J. Story; styling by Miranda Jones
Rather than filling her shelves with books, LaPlante left room for shapely objects and empty space to create a pretty display. "I first visually balance the case as a whole," she says. "Then I arrange the contents of each shelf."
8 of 14Photography by Thomas J. Story; styling by Miranda Jones
Kelly encourages making your own eclectic dish set with mismatched cups and plates―with styles from all different time periods―from secondhand stores.
"They don't have to go together, they just have to look interesting together," she says.
9 of 14Photography by Thomas J. Story; styling by Miranda Jones
Buying vintage is always LaPlante's first choice, but when there's something she can't find secondhand, she turns to Craigslist (which is where she found these good-as-new stools being sold by a guy who'd decided he didn't want them). "At the very least you're reusing what someone else no longer wants, rather than buying new," says Kelly.
10 of 14Photography by Thomas J. Story; styling by Miranda Jones
The dining space (shown here, below the master bedroom) doubles as a home office for the couple.
11 of 14Photography by Thomas J. Story; styling by Miranda Jones
"Junk store art" from local thrift stores and "good art" by up and coming local artists is combined along the walls of the loft's landing.
"The combination looks surprisingly great together," LaPlante says. "The fashion in which we hung these―all at the same centered level―holds the look together, gallery-style."
12 of 14Photography by Thomas J. Story
The headboard of the couple's bed is a cast-off footboard from a tall client who preferred to stretch out while sleeping. "I call this double reuse," she says, since it was already from an antique bed frame.
13 of 14Photography by Thomas J. Story; styling by Miranda Jones
Potted plants serve double-duty here as a privacy screen from neighbors (while still allowing a city view) and as natural air-filters.
14 of 14Photography by Thomas J. Story
Kelly ditched the old florescent lighting in her bathroom and rigged an antique chandelier to work with the existing system.
"I wanted to glam it up a bit," she says. "It's an easy way to make an ugly bathroom pretty without renovating. And those little bulbs don't use much electricity, and make everything glow."