20 questions with Laura M. Stein
It would require a bit of time travel, but I would love to spend a day with Dorothy Draper. She was a remarkable woman. In 1923 she started her own business. Not only was this something unheard of for women at the time, she also started a type of business that was unheard of. Dorothy Draper was a pioneer in the burgeoning world of interior decor and started the first interior design firm in the United States. Her bold, grandiose style, over-sized architectural elements, wild colours and striking prints quickly earned her the reputation of country’s quintessential interior decorator and transformed the entire country’s way of looking at its interior spaces. Talk about a role model!
2 Where do you look for an obscure source of inspiration?
I rarely have to go out looking for inspiration. It seems to find me everywhere. All I have to do is walk down the street and something jumps out at me. It could be an outfit in a store window, the colour of someone’s purse, the architectural detail of a building, even a child’s toy. I once bought a beautiful handmade stuffed doll for my niece. I loved the muted green colour so much that I found a matching paint colour and recommended it to one of my clients for her living room.
3 Favourite restaurant?
My favourite go-to place for a good, inexpensive meal in Toronto is Fresh. But, my new favourite restaurant has to be A Tavola in Sydney, Australia. They only use the freshest ingredients and the menu changes daily. According to the critics, you won’t get better pasta anywhere in the world, including Italy!
4 What’s your favourite room to decorate?
I love decorating living rooms. My favourite part of my job is working with fabrics, and living rooms give me the best opportunity to play with all sorts of patterns, colours and textures. Living rooms are usually the showpieces of a house, so they are a great place to get creative and really express the client’s personality.
5 What’s your current paint colour obsession?
I’m usually a Benjamin Moore girl, but Para has just launched a new line of colours that are simply stunning. They have a deep, rich indigo called Trinidad & Tobago that I’m dying to use and a mid-tone grey called Sublime (no further explanation required). Both would look stunning with crisp white and warm woods.
The dark grey counters in this gorgeous kitchen look like polished concrete but are actually antiqued granite. It’s a great way to get the look without the maintenance. 6 If one song could be the soundtrack to your life, what would it be?
Tracy Chapman’s Fast Car. There’s something about it I find amazingly inspiring. I love listening to it while I’m driving, especially at twilight. It always makes me feel like there is something incredible waiting just over the horizon.
7 What’s the one store you could spend hours browsing?
ABC Carpet and Home in New York. Eight glorious floors of fabulous furniture, carpets and home decor.
8 London, Paris or New York?
Paris, hands down. Although I do love New York. And, hmm… should I admit it? I’ve never actually been to London!
9 If money were no object, what one thing would you buy?
A villa in Tuscany where the new Vespa would be parked.
10 What do you consider to be the most iconic design piece of the past century?
It’s hard to pick just one, but I would have to say Eero Saarinen’s Tulip Table. It has the most beautiful lines and perfect curves. It was designed in the 1950s, but it never looks dated and is still a go-to piece for designers. Look in almost any design magazine and you’ll be sure to see one.
Laura designed this bright, comfortable, elegant family room for a pair of empty-nesters who love to entertain. 11 Favourite movie?
The Princess Bride.
12 What’s your favourite movie interior?
Ooooh…there are so many, it’s hard to choose! If I had to pick one, I’d say the loft in Ghost. The Corinthian columns are incredible.
13 What do you think is the easiest way to update a room?
Paint is definitely the easiest way to freshen up a room, but once you’ve changed your paint, you’ll get even more bang for your buck if you add some wallpaper and switch up your accessories. Throw pillows go a long way in changing the look of a room and are a great way to layer in some colour and texture.
14 Best coffee table book?
Pattern by Tricia Guild. It’s filled with gorgeous photos of colouful textiles, wallpaper and interiors. I have a bit of a fabric fetish, so this book makes me happy every time I look at it. Even the cover jacket is flocked! I also have this great book that belonged to my grandfather called Discover Toronto. It’s a history of the city from 1793 told entirely though pen and ink illustrations and hand lettering.
15 What’s your fave way to spend a lazy Sunday?
Sleep-in, brunch on a patio, playtime in the park with my niece and a stroll around downtown with my beau. I love to explore different parts of the city. There is always a new boutique or gallery to discover.
Laura created a sense of sophisticated drama in this dining room by painting the walls and trim in dark taupe and the ceiling in an unexpected periwinkle blue. 16 Do you like to be the entertainer or be entertained?
I do love entertaining, but I’m such a perfectionist that I can’t relax until all the food is on the table and everyone has had enough to eat! So I guess I would have to say being entertained. There’s no stress when someone else is doing the planning and all I have to do is show up and enjoy.
17 What do you think is the best renovation you can do to your home?
The best renovation is anything that makes you enjoy your home more. It’s true that kitchens and bathrooms add the most value to your home, but so many people get caught up thinking about resale value they forget about creating something they will enjoy the most for themselves.
18 What is your fave space that you’ve designed?
Tough call. I’m working on a bedroom right now that I’m really excited about. I have great clients who let me get creative with fabrics and custom furniture, and we’re using a stunning metallic grasscloth wallpaper behind the bed and very cool lighting.
19 What’s the biggest design faux pas?
Buying furniture pieces that are the wrong scale. Most people have furniture in their home that is far too big for the space it’s in. It makes the room feel cluttered and cramped.
20 Marilyn, Audrey or Jackie?
Jackie. No question. She’s the perfect embodiment of style and sophistication.
This Zen powder room, inspired by the river rock tiles used on the back wall, was designed to provide a quick refuge from hectic family life.