Kristen Bell Went from Feuding Over Recliners to Doing La-Z-Boy Commercials

published May 6, 2019
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Credit: Courtesy of La-Z-Boy

Holy forking shirt! Kristen Bell, star of “The Good Place,” the “Frozen” franchise, and the upcoming “Veronica Mars” reboot, has a new bullet point to add to her resume: La-Z-Boy brand ambassador. Wait, huh? Yup, La-Z-Boy, synonymous with old school recliners… that one. But if anyone knows about the hardship of working with a piece of furniture that’s less than ideal, it’s Kristen.

Quick recap: Back in 2017, Kristen and her husband Dax Shepard appeared on “The Ellen Show” to air their marital woes that revolved around the giant La-Z-Boy recliner Dax decided to put smack dab in the middle of their living room, in front of the sofa, much to Kristen’s dismay. The topic quickly went viral and was the topic of many a talk show appearance by the couple.

But now, Kristen is embarking on a journey to spread the news that La-Z-Boy is way more than relationship problems waiting to happen. We caught up with the congenial A-lister on the set of her upcoming commercials to talk rug obsessions, her new home’s design, and—what else?—recliners. [This interview has been edited and condensed.]

Apartment Therapy: At this point, most people know about the viral La-Z-Boy feud between you and your husband, so this partnership is pretty genius on their part. You seemed pretty staunchly against the recliner in your living room, so… what drew you to joining forces with the brand?

Kristen Bell: I thought they had reached the wrong number because I was on the “get this chair out of my house” train but in truth it was also because of the placement (Dax placed it directly in front of the sofa which I found very offensive). I can admit though, because I am a truth teller, that when I sat in the recliner, it was incredibly comfortable. So when La-Z-Boy approached me, they said “Hey, by the way, we make all this other cute furniture that we have a feeling you will like.” Cut to…I did.

I think it was exciting for me to help people understand that they don’t just make recliners having actually gone through that mental transformation myself. To say nothing of the fact that they’re born and raised in Michigan and I’m a Michigander. They’ve been around for 90 years, they’re manufactured in the U.S… there are so many boxes I have to check when I work with a company. I have to really believe in it. There’s a lot I like about La-Z-Boy.

AT: You mentioned what we think everyone pictures when they hear “La-Z-Boy”: chunky, dad recliners.

KB: That’s weirdly why this is a really organic fit. When they showed me what else they make, I was like “Really? That’s very cute” (which by the way, is everyone’s reaction). It’s a fun exploration to use what I went through, the comedy that came out of what happened with my husband fighting over the La-Z-Boy, to help people see that they do make a lot more and they are a really cool company. Their stuff is very chic.  You simply would not know it.

AT: We know the recliner ended up in Dax’s recording studio but is there any other La-Z-Boy in your home now?

KB: I just ordered two of the Eve Chairs in the False Ebony pattern with their iClean fabric that repels stains. I actually asked them to prove it because I read it and I was like, “Yeah right.” They throw mustard and ketchup all over it and apparently it never settles into the fabric. As a mom of feral humans and animals, that really appeals to me. Our current living room has a Schoolhouse Electric vibe, and that window pane plaid works really well with the modern, somewhat softer hunting lodge vibe we have going on.

AT: Best advice for decorating with a partner?

KB: You have to compromise. I’m saying that to the men. For people like me, it’s very important to nest, and little things are important so I wanted to strike a balance. We went with a more “masculine” theme overall—the Schoolhouse Electric aesthetic I mentioned. I wasn’t pushing for Anthropologie but I am pretty specific and I really wanted to have some control because I felt like a bird who was building my nest.

And for anyone with kids, I say paying attention to fabrics is the ONLY thing that you need to do. Well, corners and fabric. Get swatches of things before you buy them. I had mine in the kitchen and put ketchup on each one and rubbed it in and waited a day and tried to get it off.

AT: Let’s get to some rapid-fire questions. I can’t live without my…

KB: I immediately want to say my sleeping pillow… with my silver silk pillow case for my face and hair. I burnt all my hair off like two years ago (don’t Google it), and it was just breaking off, and now I demand to sleep with a silk pillow case. I travel with it, I’ve left it at a hotel, it had to be shipped back to me. I don’t know where it came from, otherwise I’d have a lot. I’m screwed if I lose it. I’ll never sleep again once that pillow is done.

AT: I’m super inspired by…

KB: Amber Interiors. I just love her work so much. Nothing she does it sterile, and it has a soft welcoming life. I’m very much a person who needs to feel like I can put my feet up on the coffee table in a room otherwise I just close down. We bought a new house, and I’m over the moon because I hired Amber. Going through that process has been so exciting and easy because I love everything she suggests. Her designs are effortless.

AT: Home decor kryptonite…

KB: So, I have a very big problem with rugs. A couple years ago, before I moved in with my husband, I found an eBay site that was selling old Turkish kilims. When I came up for air three weeks later, my roommates at the time said “there are eight or nine rugs on the front porch and we don’t know… you have to stop. You have a problem.” I had an intervention. When I’m really stressed, I will go online and just scroll and look at pictures of rugs. I can’t explain why it makes me feel safe, but it does.

AT: Do you collect anything… besides rugs?

KB: In an attempt to be an adult, I have tried to limit my rug purchasing and I have since transferred this to throw pillows and textiles. I have a stack of textiles that I love in the laundry closet that are old Rose Bowl fabrics that I found. From vintage dark sari denim that I made into pillow cases to checks or Hmong patterns. So yeah, I have a lot of those. Pillow cases are easier to store than rugs, as I’ve found out.