Style Illuminated

Our home decorating blog offers interior design tips and lighting ideas for today's home! Enjoy professional interior design advice, home decor ideas and inspiration.

  • Modern Nursery Ideas for Little Girls or Boys

    Nursery with bold colors

    I was recently hired to design the interior of a modern family home, which included a nursery. The soon-to-be mom expressed a few of her wishes for the space: a non-theme room, transitions well into the toddler stage, and a unique space.

    When we think of putting together a children's space (especially a nursery), we usually imagine pale colors or neutrals. However, don't be afraid to incorporate bold colors. By using brighter colors in the space, it will create a lot of interest and it will be easier to transition into the toddler years.

    Nursery with loft bed

    There are many different crib options, but the crib I am drawn to the most is the loft crib. The crib featured in the image above makes a statement and its scale commands the space. It is fun to switch the decor up a bit and go for the unexpected.

    Nursery with classic furniture

    Creating a modern and timeless nursery can be accomplished by adding classic furniture pieces to the design. I love how a Windsor chair rocker is used instead of the traditional upholstered rocking chair. Another chair that has been used in children's spaces is the Eames molded plastic armchair with a rocker base. What a great way to teach your child about the history of design and different furniture styles.

    Nursery with wall decals

    Wall decals are an inexpensive way to create a pattern or design on the wall. Nature inspired decals are a great alternative to children's theme wallpaper. 

    Nursery with pom poms

    Easy DIY pom poms add texture and interest to a nursery. They serve as your child's own art installation. They can be made in any color or style to fit a girl's or boy's room. Hang them over the crib or in the center of the room. Have fun creating your own design!

    What are some of your ideas for creating a modern nursery?

    Images: Nursery Ideas + Inspiration, Apartment Therapy, The Boo and The Boy, WeeDecor, Project Nursery

  • Ideas for Decorating with String Lights

    Mirror with String Lights

    String lights are not just for Christmas decorating. They create perfect mood lighting for outdoor summer parties. They can also work well in everyday interiors. What about accenting a floor mirror with string lights?

    Hanging String Lights and Dining Room

    Don't have recessed lighting in your dining room? Hanging string lights from the ceiling can add a touch of whimsy to the space.

    Hanging string lights and entryway

    The lights in the image featured above remind me of a summer block party. They are playful and welcome guests into the urban home.

    Lantern with string lights

    The lantern shown above could be an easy DIY project. Simply find a vintage lantern, purchase a box of string lights, and use the lights to light the lantern. Super simple, but very creative!

    Hanging string lights from the ceiling

    Letting the lights hang straight from the ceiling could be used to create a barrier between spaces or be used to accent a certain wall. 

    String light tree design

    A dreamy kid's bedroom! If you are very creative, you can try your hand at creating a design out of the lights.

    String lights and pool party

    The more common solution: string lights are great for outdoor summer parties. Drape the lights over the pool or a seating area. When the sun goes down the mood turns romantic.

    Below are a few options for Lamps Plus string lights.

    Old Fashioned Metal Moon Lantern String Lights

    Old Fashioned Metal Moon Lantern Party String Lights

    White Paper Lantern String Party Lights

    White Paper Lantern String Party Lights

    Lotus Flower 10-Light String Lights

    Lotus Flower 10-Light String Lights

    Solar 23 Foot Long LED White Rope Lights

    Solar 23 Foot Long LED White Rope Lights

    Can you add any ideas for creative string lighting solutions?

    Images: Lamps Plus, Design Sponge, Seventy Tree, Apartment Therapy, ZsaZsa Bellagio, fffound, Apartment Therapy, We Sleep Here.


  • Inspirational Bright White Contemporary Kitchens

    Modern White Kitchen

    There is something to be said for an all white kitchen or bathroom. White is often associated with cleanliness, so it makes since to use it in both spaces. When I moved to Southern California from the Midwest I noticed a big difference in the style of kitchen cabinetry in homes. In Southern California, it is very common to find painted white cabinetry versus stained wood cabinetry. Even though the space consists of mostly white, the different textures add interest. In the main image the matte finish of the cabinetry compared to the glossy finish of the subway tile is a nice contrast. 

    Jen Ramos of Made By Girl and White Kitchen

    When designing a white kitchen, adding any other color or even black makes the color stand out and become significant. Adding color can be approached in two different ways. You can select a neutral or pale color that is noticeable, yet blends in with the white color scheme or you could incorporate a much more saturated color that is a strong contrast to the white.

    Contemporary White Kitchen and Chandelier

    White Kitchen and Marble Backsplash

    Subway tile seems to be a common choice when designing an all white kitchen. However, I love the marble backsplash featured in the inspiring kitchen above. The dark hardware breaks up the white and adds interest. 

    White Kitchen with Subway Tile

    Images: Apartment Therapy, Vintage Chic, Inspiration for Decoration, Simplified Bee, The House That A-M Built

  • Back in Time with Designer to the Stars Kari Whitman

    Modern Style Room Photo

    Everything is a cycle. Styles come and go and whether it's fashion, music or design, you know everything will eventually come back in vogue! I love going back in time to create a unique style that evokes special memories.

    Kathy Ireland Deco Trophy Floor   Lite Source Olin Arch Floor Lamp

    Was there a certain era in your life that you loved? Or a favorite relative whose home always made you feel welcome? With the right design choices, you can bring back that energy while adding personality to your own home!

    Lenny Kravitz Kabloom Wall Covering

    Transport yourself back to baking cookies at Grandma's with contemporary wallpaper that reminds you of her kitchen. I love Flavor Paper, especially the Kabloom line designed by Lenny Kravitz.

    Large Lava Lamp

    Were you always jealous of your dorm mate's lava lamp that you couldn't afford? Or too timid to make such a bold design choice? Now's your chance to indulge in groovy retro lighting.

    Bar and Step Stool   Bob's Big Boy  Swap Meet Chairs

    With a few tweaks, you can easily bring old pieces up to modern day, so they're cool and funky, with a little wisdom. So fix up that old lamp you inherited from your Great-Aunt or refinish those old benches from your family's lake house. Or go treasure hunting...I found these for a client at a swap meet and snapped pics with my phone!

    Red Leather Tub Chair

    You can make it even easier on yourself by finding reproductions or vintage-inspired looks online. So every time you open the door, you're transported back to memories from a wonderful time in your life. A family heirloom or a junk yard rescue can still work in a modern house. Paint it, polish it, reupholster it, or just let its natural age and beauty shine. You can mix up styles, too--mid-century modern with antiques, contemporary with vintage kitsch--anything goes!

    A salvage yard banister

    In my living room, I mixed up an elegant antique lamp, modern wallpaper, my favorite, funky doggie figurine and a banister I found in a salvage yard and up-cycled into a staircase. All of these bring back special memories and they're all truly representative of me!

    Quotes of the ceiling

    I also go back in time with a simple coat of paint.  I had my favorite quotations--from Ghandi to Don Henley--painted on my ceiling. Reading them brings me back to great moments in my life and taking a minute to reflect sometimes just helps me get through my day!

    A Retro Modern Room Photo

    Creating a timeless vibe can be as simple as adding a classic martini set to a Living Room tray or framing a piece of a cherished family quilt. So whether you're defined by the Rat Pack or the Brat Pack, or a little of both, get creative, get resourceful and get back in time with your style!

    Photos courtesy of Kari Whitman,Craig Lofton and Grey Crawford


  • 5 Ways to Design a Unique Bathroom

    Unique bathroom and custom vanity

    When designing the home, sometimes the bathrooms get forgotten about or they are not as stylized as the other living spaces. We spend a good amount of time in the bathroom getting ready for our day in the morning and showering in the evening. I love to create a bathroom that is both indulgent and well designed with elements like bright bathroom lighting

    1. Unconventional Vanities: A vanity can become a piece of furniture when switching out the standard utilitarian vanity cabinetry. Don't be afraid to use a smaller cabinet from the living room or dining room in the bathroom. The more unique the piece the better.

    Unique bathroom and chalkboard walls

    2. Chalkboard Walls: Instead of leaving the walls blank, you can add a playful element by painting the walls with a chalkboard paint. Write your favorite quotes, to-do list, or notes to yourself on the wall. This is especially appropriate for a kid's bathroom. They can multi-task by practicing their math problems while brushing their teeth.

    Unique bathroom and incorporating color

    3. Incorporating Color: Don't forget to add a pop of color in an overall neutral or white bathroom. The color adds interest and another dimension to the space.

    Unique bathroom and wallpaper

    4. Wallpaper: I like using wallpaper in bathrooms. It is an easy way to incorporate color and pattern into the space. It can also add glamour and drama to the bathroom.

    Unique bathroom and round bathroom mirror

    5. Round Mirrors: I have seen a recent trend toward using framed bathroom mirrors instead of the countertop-to-ceiling standard (frameless) mirror. Depending on what type of mirror you select, you can really set the style and mood for the space.

    Images: Blueprint Bliss, Hammers High Heels, Desire to Inspire, Decor Pad, Two Ellie

  • Inspiring Yacht Interiors


    Inspiring Yachts

    It has been so hot recently that all I can do is dream of lazy days on the water.  As long as I am dreaming, let’s go big with inspiring yacht interiors to tempt even the very rich.  Boats are great fun, but give me the big guns. Coolers filled with beer and windless afternoons on the Mississippi are not what I had in mind.  I’m thinking martinis on the bridge surrounded by polished wood and heavy leather furniture.

    Bar on a Yacht

    I think some people think that yacht interiors are site specific and that they don’t translate to the average home.  I disagree.  I think we can borrow wonderful design ideas from the floating homes of the super rich.  Just think, you can now decorate like a shipping tycoon and not worry about the transport costs and gas to send your yacht to the Riviera each summer.  Look at how much money I just saved you.  I did say I was dreaming, right? Simple touches like a rich wood veneer on a bar or simple contemporary barstools can turn even the most modest basement bar into something special.  All you need is imagination.

    Contemporary Yacht Interior

    The uber-wealthy create spaces on yachts that reflect the same type of style found in their homes.  Notice how comfortable these rooms look?  No longer are yacht interiors full of cliche nautical touches and stark whites.  Rather, warm woods and soft furnishings abound.  

    Modern Yacht Interior

    If you are thinking of creating a similar look at home, take note of the solid furniture with blocky features.   Floating homes need to be practical.  Furniture cannot slip and slide around with the waves so heavier construction is usually the order of the day.  So, think about block arms that have heavier padding.  

    Neutral Yacht Interior

    Color schemes on yachts tend to be neutral.  I think there is a link between the relaxed nature of the ocean and the natural elements inherent to a traditional boat.  Classic woods such as teak have been used for ages on yachts and will always work with creams, browns and tans.  When it comes to dreaming big on open seas remember that beige will never be boring.  So whether you call the harbor in St. Tropez or a split level in Sacramento home, infuse your spaces with a touch of heavenly yacht interior chic. 

    Photos courtesy of,,,,

  • Capturing Hollywood Style

    Auntie Mame Foyer

    Design influences can come from just about anywhere.  If you have hit a brick wall on design ideas I suggest you go to the movies.  

    Capturing Hollywood Style for yourself is one way to update your home and make you feel like a star in one fell swoop.  If you ask me, that’s good value in a rough economy.

    You need not ask which movies I love to watch for endless design ideas because I am never at a loss to chat about that topic. Although I’m mad for offering up these design inspirations, it frustrates me because they are hard to capture in pictures - you really need to watch the movies to truly catch the nuance of Hollywood interiors.

    By far, my favorite is Auntie Mame from 1958. In two hours you are witness to more interior design switch-outs than a Cher concert.  Above is a snap of her foyer on Beekman Place.

    Auntie Mame Modern Livingroom

    Mame’s apartment morphs from traditional lighting and decor to Danish Modern without missing a beat.  Notice how the set designers toss in a great Calder-esque mobile?  I love how as Mame ages she becomes ever-more experimental. A great life lesson.

    Auntie Mame Bedroom

    An early image of her bedroom reveals a harmonious mix of styles. Eclectic like herself, the room sports Chippendale-style chairs, Asian-designed nightstand and a fantastic French center table. You can literally feel the energy of the person who occupies the room.

    Indiscreet Livingroom Interior

    Another gem is Indiscreet from 1958.  Ingrid Bergman’s London apartment is always a treat to study.   It’s so saturated with color yet never becomes jarring.  The dynamic mix of the traditional architectural and neutral furniture allow the brightly matted art to sing. 

    It's Complicated Kitchen Interior

    On a more contemporary note, and with a nod to summer, we can’t forget the movies of Nancy Meyer.  From The Holiday to It’s Complicated and Something’s Gotta Give, the interiors in her movies are like old friends, easy and comfortable. They are made for today’s living and remain chic inspiration for everybody.  Like the kitchen in It’s Complicated, it is a showcase on how we live today but with an elevated sense of style and beautiful kitchen lighting.

    Something's Gotta Give Interior

    The living room in Something’s Gotta Give is a classic and easy to replicate.  The summery Hamptons interior features simple slip-covered furniture and a cool color scheme of blues.  It’s really not complicated and should be inspiration to us all.  I suppose the ultimate takeaway is that movie plots are fine, but movie interiors are divine.  

    Photos courtesy of,,,


  • Industrial Hanging Pendant Lights in the Home

    Kitchen Island Pendant Lights

    Large industrial size pendant light fixtures were normally reserved for restaurants...until now. In the last year or so, I have seen a trend toward incorporating industrial lighting into the home. The scale of the hanging pendant lights is generally larger; therefore, it becomes more of a statement piece and adds drama to the kitchen or another room. I am especially seeing the industrial hanging pendant lights replacing the mini pendant lights over the kitchen island.

    Pendant Lights

    Hanging Pendant Lights

    The hanging pendant lights in the photo above are great if you want to incorporate the industrial look, but want a smaller scale hanging light. The lights can work well in both modern and more traditional spaces.

    Below are a few of my favorite industrial hanging pendant lights.

    Kichler Midnight Chrome Finish Fresnel Lens Pendant Light

    I like that this industrial chic pendant light  has a touch of rustic charm. The look is no-nonsense and has modern clean lines.

    Emery Silver Finish Rod Hung Mini Pendant Chandelier

    This elegant mini pendant chandelier gives a nod to the past with its metal shade it adds a classic Americana styling with a nostalgic flair.

    Kichler Polished Nickel 23" Wide Swivel Ceiling Fixture

    This adjustable rail light has swiveling heads which focus the light in multiple directions. It can be mounted on either the wall or ceiling. With its classic industrial form and polished nickel finish, this rail light offers style and flexibility.

    Images: Lamps Plus, Desire to Inspire, Things That Inspire, Apartment Therapy 


  • 5 Boutique Designer Hotels that Inspire




    When traveling, I prefer to stay in well-designed boutique hotels versus larger chains. The experience feels more like home. A few of my favorite designer hotels are the Palihouse in West Hollywood, Farmer's Daughter in Los Angeles, Ace Hotel (multiple locations), the Parker in Palm Springs, and Chamberlain in West Hollywood. The Palihouse (featured above) reminds me of a hotel I might find in London. The rich woods, built-in bookcases, and European style cement tile floors have me saying, "Wow!"

    Farmer's Daughter Hotel

    Farmer's Daughter Hotel

    Farmer's Daughter Hotel

    I pass by the Farmer's Daughter Hotel on my way to the Farmer's Market. The boutique hotel definitely has its own unique style. The hotel tries to make country design youthful and cool. Even if it is not your style, how can you not love the yellow trellis headboards. 

    Ace Hotel

    Ace Hotel

    Ace Hotel

    The Ace Hotel is known for its high design, yet keeps the rates low for young travelers on a budget. They have multiple locations from California to New York with each hotel's design different from the next. Check out the view from the Palm Springs location (shown above)!

    Parker Palm Springs

    Parker Palm Springs

    Parker Palm Springs

    Another Palm Springs gem is the Parker. The hotel is filled with Mid-Century modern elements. The hotel grounds feel like a private resort and even include the Gene Autry Residence, which can be booked as well. Everywhere you look there is design inspiration!

    Chamberlain West Hollywood

    Chamberlain West Hollywood

    Chamberlain West Hollywood

    The Chamberlain hotel is located close to the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles. The rooms feel like your very own apartment, with stylized furniture and unique art.

    What is your favorite boutique hotel?

    Images: PalihouseChamberlain West HollywoodParker Palm SpringsAce HotelFarmer's Daughter Hotel

    Like this topic?  Read more.


  • Favorite Feature on Shop by Room!

    Room Design Ideas: Hollywood Luxe Themed Interior

    One of my favorite features on is Shop By Room - a room ideas showroom available at the ease of your fingertips. Rather than having to drive all over town at traffic's mercy to the limited dozen or so brick-and-mortar stores, shop online from over 2,500 showrooms.

    Another advantage to this feature is that it gives furnishings context.  Sometimes you fall in love with an item but find it challenging to imagine how it will fit into the space you had in mind, especially after looking at countless furniture and accessories. Shop by Room helps you get a more realistic sense of context, by revealing the size and scale of individual pieces, as well as how it converses with other textures, colors and pieces in the room.

    I really love this feature.  The showrooms are all professionally designed.  Incredibly efficient, all retail items in the photos are directly clickable to their individual product pages making shopping fast and easy.  I sincerely wish more e-commerce sites had a feature like this.


    This glamorous blue room would make a perfect foyer, entryway or vanity.  It doesn't take up much space but is incredibly functional at the same time.

    Living or Sitting Room Design Ideas: Wing Chair and Chandelier

    The wing chair in this traditional peach sitting area is lovely.  Its American colonial style makes this photo.

    Green Themed Room Design

    The look of white leather exudes clean and chic in this contemporary green room.

    Find these and over 2,500 more decor and lighting showrooms online at


     (Images:  Lamps Plus.)


July, 2011