Style Illuminated

Interior design tips and lighting ideas for today's home! Providing professional interior design advice, home decor ideas and inspiration.

  • Decorating with Books

    A chinese etagere

    Too often people treat their treasured collection of favorite books as a decorating nuisance, but with the right spirit and eye they can become an asset to any room -- one that lends individuality and personality. 

    Take this high style interior (above) with its selection of leather-bound volumes arranged in a Chinese-influenced étagère. It blends perfectly with the chinois chest, the vintage Danish modern chair and table, and a Hoffman sofa from turn-of-the-century Vienna.  What ties them all together is the vintage Deco lamp on the chest, which sits atop a stack of books. 

    Contemporary shelving

    Your personal library becomes a visual focal point of a room. These modern shelves (above) with the books stacked rather than stored on end has all the character of a conceptual art piece and plays beautifully against the two contemporary floor lamps and the vintage Eames lounge chair.  

    The quiet star of the room, though, is the contemporary chandelier, which somehow harmonizes with the architecture of the bookshelf. 

    White walls

    We tend to think that books suggest seriousness but arranged naturally they fit just as well into a whimsical or colorful interior. Take these two white rooms with their mix of animal figures and colorful accessories, like the pink bench and striking lamp on the writing desk. The addition of a library ladder helps blend the books, the accessories and the traditional architectural details. 


    Don't be reluctant to mix  your books up with other decorative home decor objects. At first glance, this wall console has a kind of undergraduate informality. But the combination with modern ceramic pieces and comic decorative items gives it all a light-hearted style. The whole effect is amplified by a very 21st century ceiling fixture, a modernist sofa, and the funky table lamp on the very adult rattan bar cart. It's a room for the young at heart, whatever their age.

    A Library and DiningRoom

    Small spaces, particularly in urban settings, often have to do double duty. Take a lesson from the English and stylish Manhattan apartment dwellers who often turn their dining rooms into libraries. Deep wall colors and a complimentary painted ceiling are the perfect foil for a glittery chandelier and vintage mix-and-match dining seating.  Even is you have to eat alone, what could be better than pulling down a favorite book for company?

    Photos via Nuevo Estilo, Alvhem, Desire to Inspire, Living Agency, Mires Paris.


  • Swedish Style: Light and Bright

    Bright white Swedish decor with modern chairs and a classic arm chair.

    A light and bright Swedish-style interior doesn’t necessarily have to be about minimalism or, for that matter, be dominated by contemporary design. In this case white walls and a similarly painted floor become a kind of jewel box for a traditional chair with comfy throw and pillow alongside an equally traditional arrangement of pictures and a topiary, which adds that important natural touch the Scandinavians relish.

    Candles are a lovely counterpoint to the contemporary floor light and hanging fixture, while in the kitchen a modernist, though not minimalist sensibility holds sway. A molded plastic and steel dining room chair, a reproduction industrial light pendant and a wood and metal table work beautifully with each other because each is so cleanly and confidently designed.

    The Arne Jacobsen-style chair is paired with a traditional writing desk in this Swedish flat..

    Swedish style needn’t be rooted in the contemporary and, in fact, the bright neutrality of white walls and modernist lighting lifts vintage pieces out of the fusty category and into hip. The Arne Jacobsen-style chair is perfect foil for the very traditional writing desk. The contemporary rug, along with the very now desk, floor and ceiling lights play beautifully beside the boldly graphic wallpaper.

    A traditional chair in a painted entry way isn’t just a place to change out of snowy boots and furs, but a lovely recapitulation of the woman of the house’s personal style. Very Swedish. A colorful retro pendant light  and an acrylic pendant chandelier would add an extra bit of pizazz to this decor.

    Swedish decor with black leatherette swivel chair and modern white chandelier

    Swedish design is all about a sense of light and space for people who live in a climate that shrouds many months of the year in cold and darkness. The brilliance of its success has made it a style for all seasons and places. Take this elegantly dramatic essay in black and white.

    It has the crispness and sense of calm you’d expect from that color combination, but what counts are the touches that keep it from being merely theatrical—the things that connect it to history and the natural world, like the polished wood floors, the vintage drop-leaf table and the traditional gold-framed mirror. The striking black swivel chair plays beautifully against a fanciful chandelier. It as much about mixing as it is editing. . .and, most of all, making sure everything is displayed in the right light.

    Rich colors, particularly the graphic posters, compliment this light, bright Swedish decor. Other elements include a contemporary wooden chair and the vintage pine trunk, cowhide rug and black pillows.

    The great things about this all-white Swedish interior, with it pristine walls and floor, is how easily it makes a place for rich colors, particularly the boldly graphic sort. In this case, posters provide the grace note to a rigorous sofa and pair of chairs, whose impact is further modulated by the elegant contemporary wooden chair and the vintage pine trunk. The cowhide rug and black pillows lend a note of drama.

    The purity of the white lounge chair and matching ottoman and clear, blown glass fixture is redeemed from the cold by the richness of the giclee painting.


    Interior Photos by Alvhem Makleri.

  • Switch to LEDs with New LED Recessed Lighting Retrofit Downlights

    Have a lot of recessed lighting in your home? It's time for a style update that will give you better lighting and save you money at the same time.

    Cree's LED retrofit lamps offer a soft white downlight and use a mere 10.5 watts of power, but they deliver the same amount of light as a 60 watt incandescent bulb.

    These retrofit LED lamps are designed for use with new and existing 6-inch cans. The reflector and trim have a subtle white finish, which gives the module a soft glow in the ceiling.

    Best of all, these LED lamps have a life expectancy of some 50,000 hours, meaning they will last you up to 25 years before you need to replace them, virtually eliminating any bulb maintenance issues.

    The screw-in base allows for a simple and easy installation process. Click the video above to see installation details and learn more. 

  • Affordable Bathroom Solutions with Style and Charm

    Moroccan Lantern

    You don't have to break the bank to turn your bathroom into an inviting retreat. A host of affordable solutions can give your bathroom charm and style. It's important to maximize what you have. In this case, the homeowner takes advantage of a floor and backsplash lined with earth-toned subway tiles, picking up the hues in the pale taupe sponged-painted walls.

    A hanging lantern lends an exotic air and carefully edited accessories, like the white vase and clear bottle of bath gel help create a restful atmosphere. A weekend of painting, a trip to a flea market or lamp store was all that was required for this make over.

    Red Bathroom

    Don't be afraid to pump energy into a bath that's going to be shared by others. Remember, too, that there are two kinds of lighting in a good bathroom: Ambient wall lighting creates a mood and the other, task lighting, helps you shave or put on make up.

    The swing arm lamp over this period vanity is a great example of the latter. The red wainscoting is a daring but successful choice and what pulls it all together is the north African rug on the tile floor. Don't settle for your mother's white bath mat!

    Vintage Bathroom

    There's no reason to stick to things that gleam when you're rethinking your bathroom. Vintage and recycled pieces in the right combination create a relaxed romance that really can't be beat. In this bath, the look starts with the distressed wide-planked floors.

    A recycled cast iron tub that looks made for soaking, a highboy with an original finish, and an array of gorgeous glass bottles that might have come from an Edwardian apothecary can be collected at any flea-market or second-hand store. The battered white chair looks chic when it's staked with fluffy and inviting white towels. The lesson here is imperfection equals charm.

    Bathroom Accessories

    Spend a bit from your budget on private luxuries and just the right accessories. They'll not only give your bath a personal look, they'll raise your spirits every day when you're getting ready for work.

    Luxury Bathrooms

    A little glitz goes a long way toward turning any bath into a private retreat. In these examples the decorator has chosen ceiling lights that most people would expect to find in a dining room or stairwell. But in a high-ceiling room, even a small one, they become a dramatic element.

    The silver mirror over the tined soaking tub pulls everything together in the left photo. And the woven rug echos the wood floor. It all works together. 

    PHOTO CREDITS:  Design*Sponge, New York Social Diary, Desire to Inspire,  1st Option, Lonny Magazine.  


  • Halloween Inspiration: Dark and Moody Black Kitchens

    Modern black kitchen

    Halloween is almost here and I am ready to get my scary on! Since I am in the Halloween spirit, now couldn't be a better time to share some of my favorite dark and moody black kitchens. They are more stylish than scary and are beautiful year round.

    Moody kitchen design

    Besides painting the kitchen walls and cabinetry black, there are other ways to incoporate black accents into the kitchen. I love the black and white pattern on the floor tiles, which adds an interesting design to the space as well. The black and white checkered kitchen towel is another less permanent solution to adding black to your kitchen.

    White subway tile and black cabinetry

    If going all black scares you, incorporate a different color or white backspace. The midnight black cabinetry still creates a dark and moody aesthetic and a great contrast when paired with the white subway tile.

    Industrial black kitchen

    The kitchen above takes a big risk withs its all black color scheme. Even the hanging pans complement the color scheme. I would love to create contrast in the kitchen featured above by displaying vibrant fruit and vegetables.

    Black kitchen cabinetry and white hardwood floors

    Incorporating pops of color into a black kitchen creates a fun and playful aesthetic. The combination of black, white, and a touch of color set the tone for a modern space. I could move right into this home with its stunning kitchen!

    One of the latest trends in kitchen design is using table lamps as accent lighting. Sticking with the dark and moody theme, I rounded up a few of my favorite black table lamps for the kitchen.

    Black table lamps at Lamps Plus 

    From left to right:

    Flynn Mercury Black Reactive Glass Table Lamp

    Lite Source Ebony Black Ceramic Table Lamp

    Robert Abbey Delta 22 1/2" High Table Lamp

    Thumprints Moondust Table Lamp


    Images: Design Traveller, Down and Out Chic, Desire to Inspire, Sweet Home Style, Fieldborg


  • Five Affordable Must-Haves for a Luxurious Decor

    A Reading Chair Photo

    No matter the economy, you don't need a lot of cash to live well. Here are five must-haves that won't break the bank for a luxurious decor:

    Adjustable Desk Light Photograph

    1. The Perfect Desk Light

    No matter what the season a good book is great company, but to enjoy it you need a great desk lamp. Pick something that has style and flexibility. You'll want to adjust the angle for every mood and time of day. 


    2. Soft Throw Blankets

    A beautiful throw blanket is one of life's essentials for warmth and beauty -- and it doesn't have to cost a fortune. Look for something soft that will feel equally comfortable draped over your shoulders or thrown across your lap. 

    An oversized chair

    3. Oversized Seating

    Everyone needs furniture that's beautiful and functional, and nothing quite embodies both those qualites like an oversized chair. Combined with that great lamp and throw, it becomes an island of personal luxury. Pet optional!


    4. Fresh-Cut Flowers

    Whether cut from your garden or bought at the farmer's market,  fresh flowers in a vase perk up your spirt as much as they do a room.


    5. Candleholders & Candles

    Whether flickering on the dining table, creating pools of light around a sitting room or illuminating a bathroom, candles are an affordable part of a good and gracious life. They offer instant ambiance with just the right hint of romantic nostalgia.

    What are your top five affordable picks for a luxurious home decor?


    Photo credits:  Alvehem,  Greige Design, Inspirations Deco, Armas Design, Melenami.


  • 5 Affordable Home Decor Products for the Living Room

     Sunrays Antique Silver 32" Wide Wall Mirror at Lamps Plus

    Decorating your living room can get quite expensive very quickly. Instead of going over the budget or waiting to decorate the space, I love to shop for affordable home decor for the living room. Accessorizing the space really gives the room "the finish" and is what adds personality to the decor as well.

    1. Decorating with Mirrors: Mirrors add a decorative element to any space, but also make the space seem larger. They look great above the fireplace mantel or above a console table. The Sunrays Antique Silver 32" Wide Wall Mirror is only $199.

    Bronze Finish Iron Decorative Birdcage and decorative accesories

    2. Decorative Bird Cage Trend: Bird cages are not just for birds anymore. Recently, I have seen a trend toward incorporating decorative bird cages into part of the home decor. They are a fun element in the space and start a conversation with guests. Lamps Plus offers a Bronze Finish Iron Decorative Birdcage for under $30.

    Twisted Frame Black Iron 17 1/4" High Candle Lantern and home decor


    3. Setting the Mood with Candles: Nothing welcomes guests into your home more than flickering candlelight. Candles themselves can be a decorative accessory, but when paired with a candle holder, they can really make a statement. I am currently obsessing over our Twisted Frame Black Iron 17 1/4" High Candle Lantern.  

    Beveled Glass and Metal Serving Tray at Lamps Plus

    4. Trays are Multfunctional: Trays are a fun decorative accent for grouping small accessories. When entertaining, the tray can be used to hold appetizers and/or drinks. My favorite glam tray right now is the Beveled Glass and Metal Serving Tray 


    Wave Mannequin Hand Sculpture at decorative accessories

    5. Hand Sculptures in Decor: It is waving at you... I always like to throw in an element of surprise in the living room decor. The featured Wave Mannequin Hand Sculpture is under $40.

  • Only at Lamps Plus: Vibrant and Bold Lamp Shades

    Lamp Shades

    Lamps Plus offers a handful of bright and bold lamp shades that are sold only at Lamps Plus. The featured shades have a slight sheen and have double silver piping. They would look great in a contemporary setting or a more modern environment.

    Replacing the lamp shade on an existing table lamp is an easy way to update the look of the fixture. The featured lamps shades can be paired with many different styles of table lamp bases. Pair the lamp shade with a glass base to create a modern fixture. Topping off a bronze base lamp will give you a more traditional aesthetic.

    Lamp Shades and Copper Fabric and Trim Drum Shade

    Copper Fabric and Trim Drum Shade

    Table Lamp Shades and Jewel Collection Rust Lamp Shade

    Jewel Collection Rust Lamp Shade

    Lamp Shades and Jewel Collection Blue Oval Lamp Shade

    Jewel Collection Blue Oval Lamp Shade


    What is your favorite Lamps Plus lamp shade?

  • High End Design, Close to Home

    Traditional Living Room

    I know this may come as a shock, but I rather enjoy a beautiful, expensive looking home. As a result, shopping is a key component to making your house come to life. The trick is to make this an easy task and knowing how to create a high-end design, close to home. That said, I challenged myself to recreate the room above with products as close as a click away from Lamps Plus. There are several things that make this room feel luxe and expensive yet still casual. This room is successful because of the layering and varied textures.

    Sisal Rug

    Fancy rooms no longer need old fashioned oriental carpets to feel rich. A classic sisal carpet does the trick and is a great base to layer the other objects.

    Starbust Mirror

    The walls have a time-honored stripe in pale blue and white. That can easily be done with simple paint. The stars however come in the mixing of mirror, painting, prints and ceramic vases on brackets. Remember that the symmetrical order of things keeps the wall pleasing to the eye. The starbust mirror adds luxury and sparkle.

    Vase Blue and White

    The blue and white vases add interest and look like family heirlooms-a must if you want your room to look like it has evolved over time.

    Landscape Print

    Grounding the wall is an oil painting of a landscape. This too looks old and something that Grandma left you that had been in her family since the 18th century.   

    Traditional Side Table

    Like the painting, some of the darker furniture adds weight to the space. The French-Style side table has a beautiful scalloped apron and is the perfect surface to display lamps and objects.

    Celedon Green Ceramic Lamp

    The lamps are timeless. Basic celadon ceramic lamps will last a lifetime and never go out of style. 

    Coral Colored Pillows

    I love the punch of color used on the sofa. The coral/orange colored pillows are a great pop on a neutral sofa. No need to find an intricate patterned sofa as you can use a basic cream or white sofa to create a similar look.  

    Black Coffee Table

    Like the side table and painting, the black coffee table grounds the lower portion of the room and is great because it’s large enough to display books, flowers, and candles. You can always doctor a basic black table with some gold paint accents for a touch of elegance. As you can see, creating a high end design that looks like it took a lifetime can be achieved for a lot less and as far away as your computer. 

    Photos courtesy of

  • Lonny Magazine's Michelle Adams On Her Fav. Lighting, Design Trends and More...

    Lonny Magazine

    Recently I had the pleasure to chat with Michelle Adams, Co-Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Lonny Magazine. If you haven’t heard of Lonny, it is a bimonthly online magazine that focuses on lifestyle and home décor. Lonny highlights extraordinary interiors, innovative bloggers, and the latest market finds.

    They have been featured in Vanity Fair, The New York Times just to name a few and have highlighted design luminaries from around the globe. Now, onto the interview-

    What was the inspiration for Lonny?
    My business partner and I founded Lonny in fall of 2009 at a time when nearly the entire shelter magazine category had been wiped out by the recession. The folding of industry staples such as House & Garden, Vogue Living, domino, Blueprint, Cottage Living, etc. left a huge void and more importantly left hundreds of thousands of loyal readers looking for the accessible inspiration that they once enjoyed. So we decided to take a stab at bringing some of that inspiration back, but we realized that step one would be to change the business model since the former print model is so expensive to maintain. What we soon realized is that not only does the online model save us money, but it also connects us to a worldwide audience and allows our readers to shop the pages at a click of a mouse.

    What makes a digital magazine, like Lonny, different from the traditional hard copy magazine? Do you approach topics in a different way?
    Lonny is essentially a print magazine, except that it's published online! We produce and edit the magazine the same way a print publication is produced: we attend press previews to gather information and discover new products, we photograph our features for regularly occurring columns, we have an art department, writing staff, editorial team, photographers, etc. The only difference is that rather than sending our InDesign files to a printer, we upload them to our online platform. Being online offers the reader an enriched experience through interactive features such as videos, pop-up text, and hyperlinked products.

    As an editor, you must come across a lot of products. Do you have a favorite type of lighting?
    Yes, indeed I do come across a lot of products! In terms of lighting, lately I've been really into mid-century styles with clean lines. I'm also a sucker for table lamps with classic lucite or crystal bases and simple black shades- they're timeless and work with any decor style.

    What is the first thing readers at home should consider when thinking about lighting?
    Balance. Be sure that all corners of a room have equal and adequate lighting. When in doubt, buy a pair of lamps that you love since you can always use them to flank a sofa, console table, bedside tables, etc.



    Mirror Table

    What do you see as the next emerging home décor design trend?
    Overall, I think that people are paying more attention to the look of their homes than ever before. With the explosion of blogs and online magazines in the past couple years, people now have easy access to inspiration and practical pieces to help them get the look. In terms of specific styles, the trend in general is a more sophisticated home with hints of glamour. Mirrored surfaces and furnishings are hugely popular, nailhead trims on upholstered furniture, menswear inspired fabrics and cleaner lines all around.

    Since you all have been publishing for a while now, what other digital trends are you seeing in the interior design/ blog/ home decor world?
    The idea of an online magazine has become quite popular, and it's exciting to see the different titles popping up all over the world! Furniture manufacturers are also starting to turn their catalogs into magazine style formats as well, with hyperlinked products and editorialized content that takes the reader back to their website for purchase. Manufacturers in both home furnishings and fashion are also "editorializing" their websites with daily blogs and features that feel more like magazine-style content than a typical blog post. Overall, the trend is to act as a curator of style- be it for customers, blog readers, or magazine readers- since the eyeballs exist and it's simply a matter of capturing them and keeping them coming back for more.

    Modern White Chair Photo

    Can you tell us about your goals for Lonny or any projects in the works that you are excited about?
    We're excited about so many things! Lonny is ever-evolving as we strive to keep up with our evolving readers and the changing styles in the market. Our goal is to stay ahead of the trends and continue offering our readers aspirational style at attainable price points. We're shifting our focus in 2012 to continue developing our website and mobile capabilities, and hope to incorporate video home tours and floor plans to give our readers an even better sense of the spaces that we feature. As for short-term projects, we're excited about our 2011 holiday gift guide (we're putting the finishing touches on it as we speak!) as well as a holiday entertaining story and a living room makeover feature.

    Thank you Michelle can't wait to see the what you some up with next. We all are really enjoying Lonny here at Lamps Plus.

    If you're like me and need a Lonny fix in between issues, stop by the Lonny Blog.

    Top and First and last images courtesy of Lonny.


October, 2011