The Hidden Meaning in Lara Jean’s Bedroom Decor Across the “To All the Boys” Series, According to the Designer

updated Feb 15, 2021
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Credit: Katie Yu / Netflix

It’s senior year for the graduating class of 2021 at the fictional Adler High School, and Lara Jean Song Covey has her sights set firmly on the future — one that she hopes to share with her boyfriend, Peter Kavinsky.

In the final installment of the “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” trilogy — based on Jenny Han’s bestselling novels of the same name — Lara Jean (Lana Condor) prepares for the end of high school and the start of adulthood. But after two life-changing trips, Lara Jean must reimagine what life with her family, friends and boyfriend Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo), will look like after graduation. With everything changing all around her, she continues to find comfort in the place that’s a reflection of herself — her childhood bedroom.

Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

Over the course of the series, Lara Jean’s bedroom becomes a focal point to show the evolution of her character. It’s the place where she ultimately transforms from a wide-eyed book reader and writer of love letters to an empowered young woman that is determined to pursue the future that she has always dreamed of.

Production designer Chris August of Netflix’s “To All the Boys: Always and Forever” — who also worked on the second film — spoke exclusively with Apartment Therapy about the importance of Lara Jean’s bedroom. Plus, we got the inside scoop at the biggest changes that were made to the others rooms in the Covey house, and the unique opportunity to use a set in Seoul that was steeped in Korean art and architecture.

Apartment Therapy: Where did you turn for inspiration when designing Lara Jean’s bedroom?

Chris August: Looking back, [director Michael Fimognari and I] have always had an affinity for classic movies, and Jenny Han even built it into her story. So, a lot of it comes from iconic movie scenes, [such as] “Say Anything,” where there’s that scene of an actor standing with a boombox over his head in a long rain coat. We referenced “The Big Lebowski” in the film, and you’ll find some really interesting references that we tried to build into her room as well. Those are [the] stories that we see in films that we carry with us. Lara Jean is the same.

AT: How has Lara Jean’s bedroom transformed since the first and second movies?

CA: The original design for the bedroom was great in that it really caught the character of the room. So, kudos to Paul Joyal, who originally designed it, and Bobbi Allyn, who decorated it. It had a really good feel for us when we took over. We basically added to it, gave it a more memory garden sort of feel to it. We took all of the memories that we could collect from the book [and recreate] graphically and put them on the wall. These were elements of her life, which is what a teenage bedroom can become [as] it shows the stages of a person’s life.

As we move into this third film, [Lara Jean] is a senior now, so we kept the basic details and we just added to that with more specific details about her passing through school and what she was expecting for the future in terms of what college she might go to and what she things she might be interested in.

AT: What details of Lara Jean’s bedroom have stayed consistent throughout the trilogy?

CA: For the most part, the bones stayed the same. We added elements that she garnered along the way in her life story and added those in. As she goes along, she becomes interested in writing and she has always been an avid reader, so we added some elements of those in and always made sure that we kept current with her life.

AT: How would you describe the style of Lara Jean’s bedroom?

CA: It’s very eclectic. A lot of sound art and sound pieces, it’s like a suburban thrift store in a way. The ’60s, ’70s, and even ’80s resurgence has been happening over the years. We brought a lot of that into her room with colors and objects because they, like all styles, are cyclical. They come in faster and faster cycles, so that was what we were looking for. Throughout the rest of the movie as well, we used those same themes to do a retro-future [design], so to speak.

AT: How about the others rooms in the Covey house? What things stayed the same over the years and what changed?

CA: Trina (Sarayu Rao) becomes part of the family (and becomes Lara Jean’s stepmother). [Lara Jean’s] mom was a pillar of the family, so adding a stepmom into the film and into her life was a big change. There was a very startling change for [Lara Jean] in that the house gets redesigned furniture-wise, and Trina’s stamp comes into the house. We did it in a way that gave respect to her mom and what her mom did, and we meshed the two (Lara Jean’s late mother and her new stepmother’s styles) together. We spent time updating it with new furniture and brighter colors.

Credit: Bettina Strauss

AT: What sort of colors did you really want to stand out in this film to signify the huge change in all of their lives?

CA: Yellow. Even though Trina is coming in and changing the status quo, we did it with brightness and color and basically the sun. She’s bringing in a lot more sun into Dan’s (Lara Jean’s dad) life and into the girls’ lives as well. Even during the pandemic, you see it popping up everywhere. There’s a brightness that people are trying to add into their lives because they’re missing a bit of it. They’re missing a bit of the outside, so we’re bringing it in.

AT: You shot the last two films pretty much back to back. Do you have a favorite element from the Covey house in the last two films?

CA: One element that I really loved in “To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You” was the treehouse, [which] was a lovely element. In “To All the Boys: Always and Forever,” [I enjoyed] uplifting the colors and bringing the brightness to the house. We created a wallpaper room that [belonged to] Lara Jean’s mom, and we changed that over to Trina, so that was a big change. You’ll see in the film that there’s a special moment dedicated to that, which brings Lara Jean to a bit of a reminiscent place with her mom and her life with her mom that transitions into Trina’s life, which is really nice.

Credit: Juhan Noh / Netflix

AT: You also got to film a little bit of the movie in Seoul. Tell us a little bit about Lara Jean’s hotel room.

CA: It was a beautiful room, and we chose it because it was very much a Korean design in the sense of its relationship to the woods. We changed the art in the hotel room, and we added even more of a Korean theme. I actually went and shot a bunch of photographs inside and outside of some of the local temples and created some black-and-white art pieces, referencing back to the ’60s and using those as a design element within the hotel room. We brought in magenta, just so our characters were within their comfortable palette.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

To All the Boys: Always and Forever” is available to stream on Netflix.