Meet the Designer: Lars Bolander

A master of combining diverse elements into magical design.
Lars Bolander Portrait

Photographs by Rory Mckay

The wonderland of objects that shoppers encounter at Lars Bolander’s shop in Westport is typical of the eclectic taste and myriad interests of its cosmopolitan namesake owner and decorator.

Lars Bolander’s love for furniture blossomed through education early on in his native home of Sweden. Upon completing his studies, he worked with celebrated London decorator Gaby Schreiber. From there, an acquaintance with Gunter Sachs was born. Bolander traveled all over the world to decorate homes for the German industrialist for nearly a decade.

After he married Nadine Kalachnikoff, the couple moved to the U.S., eventually running a high-end catering firm in NYC. They also curated Bolander shops in East Hampton, NYC and Palm Beach. Throughout, he continued decorating interiors here and abroad.

When his stepson Christopher, who was managing website sales, relocated his family to Westport, they launched the shop stocked with a mix of accessories, furnishings and one-of-a-kind pieces. Known as a pioneer of Swedish design, Bolander is praised for his skill in blending antique with contemporary and treasures with affordables, advising shoppers: “If you see something you really like, don’t ask ‘Where am I going to put it?’ Buy it anyway, you will always find a spot.”

1. What was the karma of your Belgian musical panels?

I spotted them and sold my life insurance to afford them; it turned out they were from the street in Paris where my wife’s family lived.

musical panels

Photographs by Rory Mckay

2. When does a décor call for your wife’s butterfly collages?

I use them a lot, but they’re very personal. They have to fit the client’s personality.

Butterfly Collage

Photographs by Rory Mckay

3. Why would you put a bamboo bed on a patio?

It’s a great place to meditate in the garden and so big that lots of people can sit on it.

Bamboo Bed

Photographs by Rory Mckay

4. Why did you recently buy back a cabinet you’d owned and sold more than 20 years ago?

It’s painted showing plates behind chicken wire. It’s rare, the only piece like that.

Cabinet

Photographs by Rory Mckay

5. What’s a popular item in the store?

The wooden mushrooms in three sizes are terrific. You can put them on a table, group them.

Wooden Mushrooms

Photographs by Rory Mckay

6. Why does this portrait show you within a bottle?

It’s “Absolut Lars.” Absolut vodka is made in Sweden, and I’m an absolute Swede.

Absolut Lars Portrait

Photographs by Rory Mckay

7. How do you approach your custom furniture?

Often you modify. In a dining table, we added a trough for a range of uses—ice, wine bottles, plants.

Dining Table

Photographs by Rory Mckay

 

The print version of this article appeared with the headline: Lars Bolander.