Turning my own home into one that’s eco-friendly with style has been quite a challenge. After all, I didn’t want to sacrifice aesthetics in order to be environmentally conscious. Luckily companies are catching on and creating beautiful, eco-chic products. And if you need someone to help you put it all together, there’s organic interior designer Kelly LaPlante. Based in California, Kelly creates gorgeous rooms that live up to her very high environmentally forward standard. Now, with a new book, Ecologique, and Brilliant Green, a tv special on the Ovation Network, Kelly is ready to give us all a little green inspiration. Here’s what she had to say:
How would you define eco interior design?
First I would say that eco interior design should be like any other kind of interior design in that you can have any style you want. I am always telling people that green is a standard, not a style. Being an eco-designer simply means that I mentally break apart every component of the design concept and figure out how to execute each of them—from the paint on the walls to the sheets on the bed—in a way that takes into consideration the earth and its resources. For example, a sofa would be broken down into its various parts, the frame, the foam, the adhesives, the upholstery and the finishes. And each conventional element would be substituted with an eco-friendly counterpart, like wool and organic latex instead of polyurethane foam for the cushions.
Why is designing green spaces important to you?
As a society we are looking for some long-term solutions to the major damage we have done to our planet. Green design, to me, is a no-brainer—like organic food or hybrid vehicles. It is time for some significant changes… this is just one of them!
Do you feel empowered or burdened by designing for high profile, celebrity clients?
Empowered! I love all of my clients and only work with people who I know will be joy to work with. One of the great things about designing for celebrities, when we do, is that they help to bring attention to the green design movement. I am very appreciative of that!
I’ve spent the last year redesigning my own home to be as eco-friendly as possible and it’s been quite a challenging project! What advice do you have for other do-it-yourself types?
- The MOST eco-friendly thing you can do is to re-use what you already have. Re-using your existing furnishings means saving them from landfill and it also means that no additional resources are needed in order to produce and transport new (even eco) furnishings. Many people make the mistake that they need to ‘start over’ when they want to execute a green design. This is not so! Save the planet by saving your old pieces. Have them re-upholstered and re-finished to give them a fresh look, if they need it, but try not to throw them out if you can avoid it. After re-use of your existing pieces, the purchase of vintage or antique pieces is also a very easy way to go green.
- Nearly every paint and stain company now offers are low or no VOC option. The paints can be matched, like any other paint, to the color of your choice and they are no more expensive than conventional paints. This is an easy one!
- If you are on a limited budget for new pieces, spend the majority on your sleep environment. We spend a tremendous amount of time in bed, where we restore our cells each night. An organic mattress and organic bedding are essential!
- Watch out for ‘green-washing’. Many companies are clued-in to the eco-movement and will say anything to make themselves appear more green than they really are!
If you were going to advise a client to change just three things in their home to make it more eco friendly, what would it be?
Cleaning products and bedding (for improved indoor air quality, which makes for healthier happier inhabitants) and appliances (for better energy efficiency.) All three are good for the planet!
Are you organic and eco friendly in other areas of your life?
Oh yes! I eat organic as much as possible. Sometimes it is hard because I travel so much (which I carbon offset) but I do my best. I also have a closet full of eco-clothing by some really fabulous designers as well as a lot of vintage pieces. Right now I drive a Lexus RX400H (a hybrid SUV that gets good mileage and has very, very low emissions) and my beau is also working on a classic Mercedes for me to drive that will be bio-diesel. (They did not make the model that I want with a diesel engine so he is changing the drive-train over for me—what a love!) Best of all, I live in walking distance of my office so I don’t need to use a car very often.
What was the inspiration behind creating your new book Ecologique?
I wanted to show people that green is a standard and not a style. There are 15 different projects in the book—they are all green and they are all different styles. I chose to work with people who are sort of at the top of their game… politicians, authors, actors, etc. But that was mostly just to make the experience enjoyable for me. I’m a sucker for brilliant minds.
“Eco” and “Luxe” are two words that are rarely seen together. How do you successfully combine the two?
There are so many ways to go eco now. If you are a good designer and you know which companies are providing which products then it is easy to do eco-luxe. It’s also to do eco-deco, eco-mid-century, eco-victorian or any other style you can think of!
All proceeds from your book go to Global Green USA and the Blank Theatre Company. The first one is obvious. But why the Blank Theatre Company?
The Blank is just a wonderful organization and very near to my heart. They are working toward the goal of becoming Hollywood’s very own regional theatre and when they achieve this they’ll need a new facility—which they want to build green! I want to help them with that goal. Greening the arts is just as important and greening anything else!
Why do you think going green is more acceptable and mainstream than it was just a couple short years ago?
It is like a snowball. We’re gaining so much momentum and that’s helped people to realize that it is easy to do and that it does not mean that they have to sacrifice their lifestyles.
You’ve often appeared on television shows such as Greenovate on the Discovery Home Channel and Big Ideas for a Small Planet on the Sundance Channel and now you’re hosting Brilliant Green on the Ovation Network. How did this new show come about? Tell me a little bit about what viewers can expect to see.
I have some fantastic producers who I’ve been working with for awhile. We talked to a lot of different networks and may well do things with them in the future. But for this special we wanted to be at Ovation, which is the only network devoted to the arts and personal creativity. The special is all about the art of green design and we’ll be working with designers who work in everything from fashion to automotive to find out what moves them and how the limitation of producing a green design can help or hinder their artistic processes. It will be intelligent television, which is my favorite kind.
To purchase Kelly’s new book Ecologique please go here.