Style Illuminated

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

  • 5 Holiday Decorating Ideas from Sandra Espinet - HGTV's Celebrity Holiday Homes

    Holiday Decorating Ideas - HGTV Celebrity Holiday Homes TV Special

    For the last few years, HGTV designers have been sharing holiday decorating for Christmas in their one-hour special, Celebrity Holiday Homes. This year luxury interior designer Sandra Espinet was paired with CSI Miami's Eva La Rue. Sandra wanted to create a very special and imaginative design for Eva's home. Her theme for the holiday design - Santa's workshop. I asked Sandra to share a few tips on fun ways to bring the holiday festivities into your own home this Christmas.

    HGTV Celebrity Holiday Homes and Sandra Espinet

    1. Decorating with Candy Canes: "A very inexpensive way to decorate a Christmas table is by using candy canes. They are beautiful, graphic, and completely festive. Candy canes can also be used as decorations on your tree. Collect clear glass containers and jars from around your house and fill them with candy canes. You can also put them around the rim of a wide vase and fill with another festively wrapped treat."

    HGTV Celebrity Holiday Homes and Holiday Cookies

    2. Christmas Cookies: "I love Christmas cookies! I especially enjoy baking and decorating them every year in the theme and colors of my decorations. For Eva La Rue's "Santa's Workshop" theme I had lovely gingerbread men and house cookies painted in red and white. This is a very family oriented activity and you can involve your kids to help paint the cookies. Cookies can also be used to decorate the table and are the ultimate holiday treat."

    Sandra Espinet and Decorating with Ornaments

    3. Decorating with Holiday Ornaments: "Hang holiday ornaments from your chandelier or from door knobs and window latches. I chose oblong tear-shaped red decorations to adorn the iron chandelier in Eva La Rue's dining room. They matched the ret "Vietri" dishes that I used on the table. You can hang lightweight ornaments from many of your light fixtures."

    Sandra Espinet and CSI Miami's Eva La Rue

    4. Designing the Tablescape: "One of the easiest things you can do for your guests is to set a beautiful table. It's a memorable way to serve the dinner you spent so much time cooking. Here I used holiday red dishes with simple ribbon bows and pine cones tied to the white linen napkins."

    Sandra Espinet and Santa

    5. Invite Santa: "For kids, nothing says Christmas more than Santa! Recruit a family member or friend to dress up in costume and make the kids go wild. Eva La Rue's daughter was filled with laughter when she saw Santa and it was one of the best moments of the day."


    MORE INFO: Watch HGTV's Celebrity Holiday Homes this Sunday, December 4th at 8:00PM EST/PST (check your local listing) for more holiday decorating design tips. For more design tips more Sandra Espinet, see her designer interview.


    Images: Courtesy of Sandra Espinet


  • Pantone's 2012 Color of the Year is Tangerine Tango!

    pantone 2012 color tangerine tango

    Orange you happy to hear the news? (Sorry, couldn't resist a little pun.) Pantone has just announced Tangerine Tango as the 2012 Color of the Year! 

    This warm and vibrant shade, full of optimism and energy, is set to make a big impact in the world of interior design. "There's the element of encouragement with orange", says Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute. "It's building on the ideas of courage and action, that we want to move on to better things. I think it would be a disservice to go with a relaxed, soothing color now". 

    Pantone pillows for 2012 in tangerine

    A little orange goes a long way, and touches of orange are easy to incorporate into home decor. Be bold and add a pair of tangerine lamps in your living room; drape an orange throw over an armchair; swap out a neutral rug for a brightly colored shag; or toss a pair of orange printed pillows on your sofa. Eiseman suggests pairing tangerine tango with green and with distressed wood finishes.

    Tangerine tango art

    For artists, designers, and color enthusiasts, the official Pantone tangerine tango color code is 17-1463 TCX or 17-1463 TPX. RGB colors are 221 (R), 65 (G), and 36 (B), and CMYK colors are 0 (C), 82 (M), 80 (Y), 0 (K). For more info, see the official 2012 Pantone Color of the Year page.

    What do you think of the color of the year for 2012, Tangerine Tango? Love it or hate it? How will you be incorporating it into your own home?

    PS. Take a look at Pantone's past two colors of the year to see the changing direction of color trends.

  • Harmony and Balance: Symmetrical Design

    Bright Living Room Design

    No doubt most of us crave a little peace after the hectic holidays. While we still have New Years to look forward to, it’s not a bad idea to start thinking about the coming year and ways to create more balance in our lives. To some, balance may be the amount of time we spend with family relative to work, or personal “me” time to the demands of everyday life. Of course if you ask me, I see the need for balance in home design.

    Symmetrical design is about harmony and balance. Symmetry is essentially creating mirror images, two of a kind. It doesn’t necessarily mean items must be exact, but pairs of things, balanced, is the hallmark of symmetrical design. The living room above captures this aesthetic perfectly. Matching table lamps, pillows and decorative items on the fireplace mantle creates this balance.   

    Sophisticated Living Room

    Here is a more sophisticated version of the symmetrical living room. While there are matching gourd-shaped ceramic lamps, pillows and leopard upholstered chairs, the side tables are not exact matches. While one is a chest of drawers and the other more of a writing table, they still “read” as balanced because of the other matching decorative objects. 

    Regency Style

    This Regency-Style room displays harmony and balance in both a living and dining space. In the dining room the two head chairs are upholstered in the same bold fabric, acting as matching book ends within the space, while matching brass lamps and two matching chairs balance the seating area. Symmetry makes it easy on your eyes to focus and take-in the design of a room.  

    Brass Lamps

    Brass table lamps like these can create a similar feel is used in pairs. 

    Small Space Solutions

    This small space uses thinly designed furniture and floor lamps to create the appearance of more room. Again, matching chairs, pillows and lighting create sophisticated balance in this jewel-box of a room. 

    Contemporary Bedroom Design

    This contemporary bedroom is all simplicity and symmetry. It’s pleasing to the eye because of its ease. You could split this room in half and have mirror images. From the lighting fixtures and mirrors to the closets and air vents, everything falls nicely into place.

    Traditional Kitchen Design

    One might think that because kitchens don’t have pillows, curtains and table lamps that creating symmetry would be difficult. Au contraire mon ami, this kitchen uses matching pendant lights, appliances, accessories and cabinetry to achieve balance.

    Like the end table that were not exactly matching in the living room above, a similar trick is used here with the stainless steel appliances. While the double ovens don’t match the microwave and coffee maker they do balance each other because of their finish. 

    Modern Kitchen

    This kitchen displays the same sense of symmetry. Notice the matching ceiling lights, cabinetry and matching barstools? By matching barstools to the oven and stove opposite the island, balance has been achieved from all perspectives. So as you enter the final stretch of 2011 think about how you can reach peace and harmony in life as well as in your home. 

    Photos courtesy of


  • Best of 2011 - Top 10 Home Decor Trends

    striped walls home decor trend 2011

    As 2011 draws to a close, I know we're all eager to move forward into a new year with new home decor trends. But before the clock strikes midnight on New Year's Eve, let's take a look back at what trends have impacted our home this year and will continue to influence our design decisions in 2012!

    Striped Walls. Whether subtly tone on tone or bold and graphic, striped walls made a big design statement this year. With a little patience (and a handy level!) this is one trend that's easy to DIY.

    Gallery walls home decor trend

    Gallery Walls. Instead of featuring one large painting, collage-style groupings of small framed pieces are an affordable and on-trend alternative.  Mixing and matching art, mirrors, and photographs creates a richly layered look.

    Green design trend 2011

    Green Design. Both practical and beautiful, green design has been a trend for years and will only continue to be! Recycled materials, re-purposed items, and earth-friendly products are a stylish way to reduce waste and help out mother nature. 

    Mid century modern 2011 trend

    Mid-Century modern.  The clean lines and chic styling of the 1950's and 1960's is back! Classic Eames chairs, Noguchi coffee tables, Sputnik lights, and Saarinen tables have made their way back into our hearts and homes.

    Reclaimed wood home design trend

    Reclaimed wood. Charming and rustic, reclaimed wood has transitioned from furniture to walls and floors. The weathered texture and relaxed look makes this a trend that's sure to stay. 

    Mixed metals in home decor

    Mixed metals. Once taboo (gold and silver together - gasp!), mixing metals creates a luxe and opulent look that has a worldly and well-travelled charm. 

    Patterned wallpaper design trend

    Patterned wallpaper. 2011 was a year to have fun with walls! High end design houses brought back patterned wallpaper with a modern twist - think gorgeous faux bois prints, fun large-scale patterns, and papers with tasteful metallic accents.

    Black room design trend 2011

    Black walls. Not just for nightclubs, dark walls have made a bold and dramatic interior statement this year. This look works best where low, intimate lighting is appropriate, like a dining room or small guest powder room. (Read more about the trend of black walls here!)

    Chevron pattern design trend 2011

    Chevron patterns. Whether on walls, floors, fabric, or furniture, the graphic chevron pattern is a versatile print with retro appeal.

    Vintage furniture design trend

    Vintage Interiors.  Continuing the green design trend, vintage furniture and housewares have made a huge comeback. Hunting around thrift stores and scouring garage sales for secondhand treasures isn't just for broke college students anymore! Vintage style is an easy and affordable look to incorporate into modern decor.

    What was your favorite design trend this past year? What are you excited to see coming to the world of interior design in 2012?

    Image credits: Lonny Mag, House and Home, Re-Nest, Vinewood House, Vosgesparis, The Decorista,  Design*Sponge, Freshome, Decorista Daydreams, Danielle Thompson

  • Designer Wish List: Most Wanted Furniture and Home Decor

    Cowhide pillows

    Do you keep a list of your most wanted furniture and home decor pieces? You know what I mean - those items that you're secretly wishing for? Or maybe not-so-secretly dropping hints about wanting? Whether it's a folder filled with magazine tear sheets, an inspiration board on Pinterest, or a mental list, we all have furniture, lighting, and accessories that we've come across that we'd love to see in our homes. As a designer, there are a few furniture and decor staples that I'm always drawn to. Here are my most wanted pieces:

    Animal print pillows: cowhide is classic, and neutral animal tones like cream, brown, and black work with just about every design style and era. 

    Transparent dining chairs

    Transparent dining chairs: surprisingly comfortable and stylishly modern, a set of transparent acrylic chairs offers practical seating but doesn't add any visual "weight" to a room like dark wood chairs can. Pair them with the unexpected, like a traditional dining table, for maximum impact.

    Tailored gray sofa

    A tailored sofa: posh and classic, a tailored sofa exudes grown-up style. The contrasting black piping on this gray velvet sofa offers a playful contrast to the formal diamond tufting.

    Mid century dining table

    A mid-century inspired dining table: a contemporary interpretation of the classic Saarinen Tulip Table, this glossy white dining table beauty has a classic shape that pleases both modern and mid-century loving folks.

    Modern console table

    A stylish console table: a multifunction piece like a console table can act as a catch-all for keys in an entry; as an area to display family photos in a living room; or as a desk in a small studio. This modern faux shagreen accent table is not your grandmother's stuffy hallway console!

    Silver chandelier

    A sparkling chandelier: like a sparkling bauble on your finger (or perhaps gleaming chrome on a car, if that's more your speed!) a chandelier is a design essential for adding the final polish to a room. 

    What's on your wishlist? What are your most wanted furniture and home decor items? Share in the comments and let's inspire one another!

  • Creating an Art Gallery at Home

    Hanging Art

    Most people like art. At least I think they do. Heaven knows there are always throngs of people at every museum I attend. Hence, if we go on that premise, one must assume people like art at home. I’m a firm believer that people should buy what they love unless of course it’s on velvet! Your home should reflect you and your taste in art is no exception. I think there is nothing more sad than one piece or art, alone, on a big blank wall. I take that back, if you had an amazing Jackson Pollack or Picasso I would commend you on your good taste.

    Let’s assume, for argument’s sake, you don’t have a Picasso, so where do you start when it comes to displaying art in your home? Creating an art gallery at home is simple. I love clustering objects to create interest and a focal point. While the pictures on the wall above don’t necessarily look like they belong together, it works. The reason it’s successful in this space is that the images are hung to reflect the vertical nature of the wall and are thinly framed. It’s a tight space so going up and using light framing techniques are a necessity. Also, no need to fret about expensive picture lights if you have many images. The bare lighting fixture and thin floor lamp are super chic and offers plenty of mood lighting.

    Adjustable Floor Lamps

    A pencil-thin floor lamp is not only ideal for reading, but it can be angled up to highlight art and sculpture.

    Arranging artwork on dark walls

    Here is another way to cluster images on a wall to create a gallery affect. If you have large, dark walls, consider gold frames to make them pop.

    Victorian Decoration

    This design is nothing new. If it was good enough for our Victorian ancestors, it must be good enough for us today.

    Decorating Loft Interiors

    This loft has a downtown vibe and the owners have used the space beautifully. Again, they were not afraid to scatter the images all over the wall, but have remained true to the verticality. One thing to keep in mind if you hang artwork near a window is that the sun can damage art and photographs. A simple solution is to either install shades on the windows or frame everything with a UV protecting glass or plexiglass.

    Bedroom Decorating Ideas

    I also wondered what happened to the moody blues. Big wall, big scale. This room follows the same principal of clustering artwork to fill a wall. Because this room has big wide wall, it’s super-dramatic to hang big art. Even the lighting is large scale. It would look foolish to have dinky and delicate accessories in a bold space such as this. Floor lamps and table lamps actually become statement pieces when thoughtfully arranged by a wall of art.

    Modern Dining Room Decor

    This dining room gallery wall is a dream. The artwork is roughly all monochromatic, and framed very simply and quite similar. Remember, while there is no exact formula to its layout, you will want to lay all of your items out on the floor, or create a template before you start hammering nails into your walls. The simple arms of the contemporary chandelier echo the frames allowing light to enhance the art but not overpower their beauty.   

    Hanging Pendant Lights

    This blown-glass pendant light is quite similar and would be great lining a hallway whose walls were studded with art.

    Hanging Art in a Dining Room

    Here is a funky, eclectic version of the “gallery wall” idea. This look works best in a weekend house, cottage or room with limited space. While wildly offbeat, the designer/owner was mindful of proportions and arranged the art to mirror the width of the dining table. Genius.

    Modern Kitchen Design

    Wall art in the kitchen? Why not. We spend so much time in our kitchens that it seems insane not to gussy it up. If you do choose to place art in the kitchen, be aware of grease, spills, and light. Frame appropriately and then enjoy. 

    Photos courtesy of artandlair, moodboardblog.


  • Getting Ready to Get Organized in 2012

    Apothecary chest

    It's that time of year where lists of new year's resolutions get jotted down in notebooks, on whiteboards, and on blogs. And let me of your resolutions is to get organized! (Whoa! I'm a mind reader!) January is a time for fresh starts, and it really is a great time to conquer the clutter that has been building up in 2011. With the right tools, it can be a pleasurable task instead of a painful one. 

    While you're gearing up for an organizing extravaganza in 2012, start now by investing in some practical furniture and accessories. These pieces will not only house your belongings in an organized fashion, but are beautiful to boot. 

    Above: an apothecary chest is a versatile piece that's equally at home in a dining room, living room, or bedroom. With a mix of large drawers, small drawers, and a cabinet, this piece can house anything from office supplies to linens to toys.

    Steamer trunk coffee table.

    Replace a coffee table that has open legs and no storage with a trunk. Not only does this piece have classic antique styling, but it also has loads of closed storage to keep blankets and board games at bay.

    Storage boxes with nailheads

    Store mementos in plain sight in pretty storage boxes. Stacked on a bookshelf or end table, these will add style to your space and provide a home for loose change, sentimental ticket stubs, and that button you found in between the couch cushions (but can't remember what shirt it's from). 

    Video game storage unit

    If you have a gamer in the family, a custom storage piece like this metal cube can keep video game systems contained - and tuck neatly into a console when not in use. (Video game moms, rejoice!)

    faux leather desk accessories

    Corral desk clutter with these handsome faux leather desk accessories. When paper is tamed in a chic plaid tray, it doesn't seem so scary.

    2012 is just four days getting organized on your list of new year's resolutions? What steps are you planning to take to make that happen? If you're not sure where to start, Style Illuminated can help! January is jam-packed with professional organizer interviews, organizing tips, product recommendations, and insider secrets to help you gain control of your stuff and your space. Stay tuned!

  • A Palm Beach Interior Design Story

     Warm Climate Decorating

    Let’s play a game. Let’s pretend we have gobs of dough and can winter in Palm Beach. Because it’s make-believe, we also happen to have an insanely chic home. Have I set the stage? It may sound like a wild and totally unrealistic dream, but Palm Beach style is so fun, so cheerful and sometimes much needed during a long, cold winter. A Palm Beach Interior Design Story can come true for you, minus the actual mansion, if you follow a few design rules and incorporate a few classic, resort design touches.  

    Foyer Decorating Ideas

    While there are a multitude of styles found in Palm Beach, from classic, heavy Spanish-inspired Mediterranean to Mid Century Modern, I tend to lean towards the playful, traditional beach prep look. To achieve the look think about a few basic rules. Think about bold color tempered with white as well as shells. As the foyer above shows, pops of bold color coupled with shell shaped lamps are a joyous welcome to sun to surf.

    Decorating for Warm Climates

    Even though the walls here are creamy there is bold white trim and chairs to keep the room fresh. Sisal rugs are also a necessity. Simple, unpretentious and feels summery on bare feet. Notice the coral and shell fabric on the two armchairs? Great gourd-shaped lamps dot the room and reinforce the color scheme. Ceramic table lamps always work in traditional rooms such as this.

    Sisal Rug

    You can’t go wrong with a sisal or jute rug as the foundation to a beach-inspired room.

    Traditional Summer Living Room

    Thought you might like to see some of the elements working again in this blue living room. 

    Colorful Dining Room Decorating

    On first glance this dining room may look formal, but it’s really not. Bold color on the walls, chairs and painted table lighten the mood. White is incorporated in the curtains and again we see the sisal rug. By the way, did you notice how I have been using images that hint at the 2012 Pantone color of the year, Tangerine Tango? More of that to come.

    Colorful Bedroom Decorating Ideas

    I almost to forgot to mention the always present palm leaf motif. This wallpaper is amazing. Again we see pops of color and crisp whites. Can’t you just feel the cool terrazzo floor on a balmy South Florida day?

    Yellow Ceramic Lamp

    Pop. This spicy yellow ceramic lamp is a good first step towards adding bold color to your home.

    Master Bedroom Decorating Ideas

    This bedroom is stylish and fun. Although the walls are dark and sexy, the white bedding, dressers and accents make everything sharp and in focus. One additional element that is classic Palm Beach decor is the use of bamboo. The bench and mirror frames add that natural element. How about a show-stopping chandelier? This shell encrusted chandelier is a great focal point. This style lighting fixture is unique and I daresay specific. If it’s not your thing, any similar-sized light would work, perhaps in all white.  

    Orange Floral Pillow

    Accessories like this orange pillow are a good way to work in hot colors in a bedroom or living space.

    Bamboo Glass Table

    This bamboo table is light and airy and could be used as a bedside table, end table in a living room, or bar cart on a veranda. Versatile and timeless.

    Bedroom Decorating Tips

    I just had to include this, didn’t I?  

    Photos courtesy of house of turquoise, boglestreet, House Beautiful.

  • Bold Color in Unexpected Places

    Modern yellow kitchen

    At the end of December, the color outside is often dreary. And although yellow may not be a typical color you associate with winter, I think a little dose of bold color during a drab time of year is good for the eyes! I love when a designer or homeowner is daring enough to not only use bold color, but use it in a completely unexpected place. These splashes of sunny yellow in home decor have caught my eye as of late and just made me smile. 

    Contemporary bookshelf design

    Traditional kitchen with yellow cabinetry

    Yellow double doors

    Yellow fireplace picture

    Painted yellow floor

    And just for fun, one last image. It's not just yellow, but seeing this rainbow-hued staircase in person would definitely bring a smile to your face in winter, don't you think?

    Modern painted stairs

    Image credits (from top to bottom): Apartment Therapy, Erigutt, House and Home, So Darling, Brooklyn Bride, Apartment Therapy, last image unknown.

  • Get The Look: Coastal Chic Decor in 5 Steps

    Modern Coastal Decorating - Dining Room

    Coastal chic decor celebrates the elements of coastal life with an upscale flair. The look is refinded, simple, clean and contemporary.  If you enjoy the peaceful feel of the seaside, you will love this décor! Here is how to Get The Look: Coastal Chic in 5 Steps.

    Coastal Chic Color Palette

    1: Color Palette
    The Coastal Chic look is dominated with blues and greens found in the ocean.

    Ivory Area Rug

    2: Walls and Floors
    Floors are smooth surfaces of tile or refined wood.  Walls are painted in lighter shades of the sea, like blue, green or sea foam. Coastal Chic wall art consists of elements of sea life.

    Crystal Cascade and Silver Shade 17 1/2" Wide Pendant Light

    3: Lighting
    Lamps and chandeliers have an upscale contemporary design with strong used of glass, crystal and chrome.  The design can be freely mixed by using a common finish.

    Zuo Fox Trot Silver Dining Chair

    4: Furniture & Fabrics
    Achieve the Coastal Chic look by using modern furniture with straight clean lines.  This will allow the accessories and lighting to take center stage adding drama to the room. Faux metallic leathers and snake skin wrap chairs and console tables add a dimension of luxury.

    Shell Decorative Object

    5: Accessories
    Shells, coral and other sea life are recreated in modern materials with novel finishes.

    Want more? Other Get the Look for more Inspirations and Ideas.


December, 2011