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.

  • 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 recessed lighting retrofit modules offer a soft white downlight and low wattage, but deliver the same amount of light as a higher wattage incandescent bulbs.

    Designed for use with new and existing cans, LED retrofit kits are available in a variety of trim choices. One of the most popular choices for the reflector and trim is a subtle white finish, which gives the module a soft glow in the ceiling. Other choices include bronze, nickel and black trim.

    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, or shop below.

    Browse Retrofit Recessed Lighting

  • 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


  • La La Lovely: Halloween Decorating with Kids

    Our friend, Trina, over at La La Lovely has provided us with some great ideas for Halloween Decorating with kids.  Thanks, Trina!

    Halloween Decorating with Kids

    There is one little holiday that is often overlooked when it comes to decorating, . . . Halloween. Maybe it is because it usually evokes thoughts and images that all point in the direction of … tacky! As much as decorating for Halloween may seem like a waste of time to adults, its no waste to kids because they love this holiday.

    Trick or treat, smell my feet; give me something good to eat. Just being able to say, “smell my feet,” to your grown up neighbors is reason enough for kids to love this holiday.

    Usually, traditional Halloween décor fares on the side of creepy, gross, plastic and not so fantastic. But, it just doesn’t have to be. Since this is a holiday adored by children why not include them in the decorating process?

    I’ve scouted out a few “creepy,” kid friendly, ideas that will turn your home into a simple and stylish Halloween haven.

    One small idea can have a lot of scare. I love the idea and look of things going a bit batty. A few cut outs of bats and your front porch is instantly spookified. These bats would also look scary on a wall inside your home. Kids can easily participate by wielding their scissors and cutting out paper bats (a bat template can be found here).

    Bats made from paper

    Paper Bats


    Little people like decorating with little things. And sometimes, it is the little things that have a very big impact. I like the idea of sprucing up barren branches. If you already have some branches all you need to do is pick up some fake ravens and then let your children place them strategically. If you don’t already have a branch display, all you need is an urn, some moss and a branch (which your kids will be happy to collect outside). You can also spray paint the branch black for extra effect.


    If Halloween is all about the candy, and kids are all for the candy, then why not let the decorations be all about the candy? Yes, you can always dump orange colored candy into big glass jars and set them on your counter tops, but why not go a different route? Create your very own little cabinet of curiosities to include all kinds of eerie candies and foods.  Find jars that look a bit more scientific, create labels and have the kids help come up with scary and gross descriptions of the jars creepy contents.

    Jars with Candy

    While most Halloween decorations are dark, this one is all about the light. These milk jug ghost lanterns are sure to be a favorite of kids. Save your milk jugs, get our your  black markers, grab a few strands of party lights and say Boo.

    Jugs with Faces

    This idea is spooktacular. Kids always love doodling on pictures. You can either create a little gallery wall with old portraits found at flea markets or even use any current family portraits. Add goggly eyes and other little extras that make photos look old and creepy.  Visitors will feel all eyes are on them and have a good laugh at the updated pictures.

    Silly Eyes

    There are so many great ideas out there but these are tops on my list this year. They make the cut because they are simple and stylish and most of all fun and very doable for both kids and busy parents. So . . . spookify your home, eat candy and if you’re really feeling a little crazy scare yourself into dressing up in costume this year!

    Images courtesy of  Martha Stewart, The Happy Home,  Better Homes + GardensFamily Fun


  • Belgian Style

     Axel Vervoordt

    I don’t know what it is about fall and the nearing winter that gets my heart racing about Belgian Style. Most people probably never think twice about Belgium, that is unless you are Belgian. While they are quite well known for lace and dipping their frites in mayo, they are also masters in combining natural, organic fabrics within the context of ancient and antique spaces. Think of it as a floral-free and modern view of shabby chic.

    Belgian Style has been elevated by master designer Axel Vervoordt but can be achieved in your own home if you keep your color palate muted, incorporate lots of linen, make use of wood and toss in one or two unexpected modern touches.

    Belgian Style Living Room

    Haunting yet beautiful describes this simple interior space. Although the walls seem bare and cold, the roaring fire and soft linen make it inviting. Notice the oversized woven basket for firewood. Stylishly Monastic!

    Linen Sofa Ideas

    Recurring themes...soft linen and wooden accents. Harmonious and natural.

    Dining Chair

    A simple and affordable way to introduce this design style is through this Belgian-style slipcovered chair that adds the Northern European look to dining room design, to your office or in the corner of a bedroom. 

    Contemporary Kitchen Design

    The same muted tones work beautifully in this contemporary kitchen that reads soft and inviting. 

    Kitchen Display Ideas

    Thankfully this kitchen is nowhere near earthquake country. I just love it. Dishes as design-it’s almost an art installation. Gorgeous, but heaven help the hostess who needs to retrieve something from the top shelf.

    White Sofa Ideas

    This look is easily achieved in your own home. Simple pieces with a wow factor. It’s an easy and inexpensive color scheme.

    Wood Coffee Table

    This rough-hewn coffee table mimics the aesthetic. 

    Loft Bedroom Ideas

    Again, we see the recurring use of linen and wood. I love this introduction of super-modern lighting against the backdrop of the heavy old timbers of the loft.

    Contemporary Lighting

    Clean and contemporary lighting adds just the right amount of counter-balance to the older, more natural elements.

    Cozy Livingroom Ideas

    Here is an example of a more traditional way to interpret Belgian Design, though slightly more refined with the introduction of the Aubusson carpet. Designer Karen Draaijer still manages to use simple linens and casual wood accents.

    Grand Home Ideas

    Another moody space. Aren’t they ideal interiors for fall and winter? Belgian Style seems so effortless yet so chic. It’s the kind of high-impact design tailor-made for a small budget.


    Photos courtesy of,,,,,,,



  • Dressing Up the Draped Table

    Foyer Ideas

    I think many people look at the draped table as a cop-out. To quote Elle Woods, “I Object!” Now, I hardly condone taking an old sheet and tossing it over a fiberboard table round and calling it a day. Rather, by dressing up the draped table you can have a stunning show stopper that looks custom and totally intentional. This hallway draped table is super chic. You can literally buy a folding table at a big box store and have a cover like this made. The box pleating is clean and crisp and the contrasting border a must for making this piece pop. The subtle nod to empire style works without being de trop.

    Living Room Side Tables

    This draped side table is a modern classic. The simple round shape will never go out of style and the glass topper will ensure that the fabric stays clean. By using fabric to drape the table you give yourself flexibility. You can change the look of the room inexpensively by simply using different fabrics. I also love the pop of orange. 

    Orange Ceramic Lamps

    Did somebody mention using a hot orange lamp to add interest? 

    Masculine Bedroom Ideas

    I could live in this bedroom. It cozy, moody, eclectic and ticks all the right boxes. There is a big, comfortable bed, ample shelves for books, reading lights, and a variety of chairs for both work and relaxation. I love the use of the draped table here as both a desk and room divider. The mossy brown/green fabric is decidedly masculine yet remains true to the romantic soft furnishings that abound. 

    Lamps with Mica Shades

    This mica-topped lamp adds that certain masculine vibe to any desk.

    Home Office Ideas

    Another draped desk option is this crisp white version. The oval shad makes this desk a little more custom and unique. Additionally, the trimmed pleats and custom glass topper introduce design touches that are far from run-of-the-mill. The simple white lamp keeps the aesthetic light and bright.

    Romantic Dining Room Ideas

    Feeling romantic with a light dusting of country? This patchwork draped table is not for everybody but works within the context of country elegance. The monochromatic color scheme allows this topper to not scream Holly Hobby. 

    Asian Style Dining Rooms

    For a true 180, take a look at this Asian-inspired draped dining table. The clean, square design works beautifully with the room. Notice the peek-a-boo green fabric in the pleats? Genius. The balance of traditional and modern are truly harmonious here and the modern lines of the table allows the contemporary chandelier to work in a room with classic crown moldings.

    Mid Century Style Chandelier

    Want one for yourself?

    Draped Nightstand Ideas

    Draped tables also look great as a bedside table. The simple pleating here keeps the table neat, while the silk fabric keeps is feminine.

    Traditional Bathroom Ideas

    It’s clear that draped tables can look great in most every room and in most every application, even the bathroom. This bathroom vanity exudes an updated version of 1930s glamour. I suppose the point I am trying to make is that draped tables can be a wonderful addition to home decor, just don’t let me see on old trunk underneath the fortuny fabric!

    Photos courtesy of thesummerhouse,,,

  • 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. A starbust mirror adds luxury and sparkle.

    Vase Blue and White

    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

  • Granny Chic Style: Definition and Product Roundup

    Kitchen and Granny Chic

    When I first heard about the design style, granny chic, I was hesitant to explore it. Now, I am in love with the style, which focuses on botanicals and soft colors. Think an updated, more youthful version of your grandmother's Americana cottage. It reminds me of home cooking, sunflower bouquets, and knitted blankets. The aesthetic is very warm, welcoming, and handmade.

    Granny Chic Elements:

    • Botanicial motifs
    • Soft, muted colors
    • Wire baskets and trays
    • Knitted textiles
    • Curved lines
    • Warm woods

    Products for the Granny Chic Style

    Left to Right: Masterpiece Collection Olive Ash Burl Accent Table,  Butterfly Decoupage Metal Tray, Flower Botanical Shade, Blue and White Porcelain Hexagonal Gourd Table Lamp

    The burl accent table would look great in the kitchen as a place to show off cookbooks and a bowl of fruit. The butterfly tray can be incorporated into the dining room or living room decor.

    Adding granny chic style to your decor can be as easy as replacing a lamp shade with the botanical shade. The blue and white porcelain table lamp sets the tone for granny chic style in the bedroom. Mix the table lamp with other granny chic decor items such as a quilt and knitted throws.

    Image: SF Girl By Bay


  • Creative Solutions for Bedside Lighting

    Architects lamps, chandeliers and modern desk lamps are excellent bedside lighting options.

    When you’re choosing bedside lighting, give form and function equal weight. Selecting a good reading light—and who doesn’t want one of those—doesn’t mean taking something discordantly industrial into your home’s most personal space, so long as you’re careful to pick a lamp with the right shade and material.  

    Vintage scones and hanging pendants can create the relaxing mood you’ll appreciate, while traditional table lamps and salvaged pieces lend the air of romance nobody wants to do without.

    Why not try something unexpected, like a mini chandelier, or ultra functional, like an adjustable architect's desk lamp? They offer creative solutions for bedside lighting. 

    Functional pharmacy lamps and vintage-inspired gooseneck lights bring elegance and function to a bedside table.

    We usually think of “task lighting” as something for the kitchen counter or home office, but your bedroom lighting has jobs to do, too—and creating beauty is one of them. It wasn’t all that long ago that choosing a serviceable reading light for your night table meant importing something designed for a drafting table or the office desk. In recent years, designers have adapted the oh-so-functional pharmacy lamps and vintage-inspired gooseneck lights with a variety of materials, shades and elegant configurations.

    They bring the best of both worlds to a bedside table. Don’t be afraid to set a mood with table lamps and wall pieces that let you set just the mood you want in a room of your own.  


    Photos via Red and Lonny Magazine.


October, 2011