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The Fun Traditionalist: Carla Lane

by Grace Bonney

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Design*Sponge first introduced me to the work of L.A.-based Carla Lane. A Pratt Institute grad, Lane infuses her native East Coast classicism with a lighthearted West Coast feel. I was especially drawn to a set of red dining chairs Carla used, and I wanted to learn more.

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The designer told me, “I personally like the idea of recycling furniture and the added benefit that old furniture is usually well made, sturdy and unique. My clients like the idea of saving money and ‘hunting’ for great finds. Even if they have a big budget they love to hear me say, ‘look what I found at the Melrose Flea Market for you.’ These [chairs] I found at a thrift store in Hollywood for $150.”

Carla had them professionally lacquered a persimmon color. She explained, “It’s expensive, but it’s worth it and you can customize your color.” Sometimes she paints pieces herself, however the chairs were special. “When you do anything in a high gloss you want there to be as few pitts and dents as possible. With the chairs they did a thorough sanding and patching job first, and sprayed them in a booth.”

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Above, one “before” chair is covered in red-and-white swatches. Ultimately Carla selected SeaCloth‘s “Facet” to cover the seats. She added, “The fabric cost as much as the chairs and table put together! Ha. But I look at decorating like I look at shopping: Put all of your money into the important pieces (couch, bed, art = shoes, coat, purse) and as far as I’m concerned the rest is up for grabs.”

Originally the chairs were to be white or straight red. Later Carla decided on “Red Rose” by Benjamin Moore, “It has a slight tint of orange in it and I thought it would pop against the “Arsenic” by Farrow & Ball used for the interior of the cabinets.” The dining room table was another thrift store find that she spray painted white herself.

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Pillows made up in SeaCloth‘s “Facet” and “Flutter,” available for $110.

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Carla found this rattan chair on the side of the street abandoned. She had the seat re-caned for $60, and spray painted it black herself. What makes it so crisp and East Coast is the monogramed pink ticking cushion. The decorator kept this one for herself and uses it as a chic desk chair.

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Another brilliant score: “Regency” bedroom nightstands bought off of craigslist for $40. Carla opted to have them professionally painted one of her favorite whites – “White Dove” by Benjamin Moore. By the way, I think this bedroom is such a great example of Carla’s ability to mix styles. The lamps and headboard have a decidedly mid-century swank, but the almost Bohemian textiles on the bed and the casual rug keep this interior from being a predictable Hollywood Regency creation.

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Carla’s take on holiday decorations:

“I like keeping it simple and easy. I love repetition and balance. The same goes for decorating, so on my mantle, on my console tables, my dining room table — every surface I can fit them on — I line up or cluster groups of tall plain glass vases at different heights (everyone has them — I keep a box of them in storage and pull them out whenever I’m entertaining). Next, I fill them halfway with water and scatter some red glass beads (from an art store) along with floating candles. It’s so easy but looks amazing when all of the candles around the house are lit and the fire is going. Very romantic
and sophisticated. And on the plus side for me everything matches! I’m not big on a bunch of different decorations around the house…On the mantle I also add loads of fresh garland and pine cones around the vases.”

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