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.

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