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.

  • 2011 in Review: 5 Must-Have Decor Books

    Holly Becker's first book on decor, Decorate

    This year’s best-selling and most interesting design books were, for the most part, the work of popular bloggers united by an approach that might best be called “un-decorating.” Interior decorators traditionally dominate this category and several turned out worthy volumes, but this really was the year in which the life-as-you-live-it bloggers stepped squarely into the home decor spotlight in much the same way that fashion bloggers have captured the vibrancy of street style. Here are five must-have decor books that capture this new sensibility:

    By Holly Becker and Joanna Copestick

    Chronicle Books

    Becker founded the hugely popular design blog, decor8, and—along with writer Joanna Copestick—she’s compiled 1,000 decorating tips for every room and budget from leading decor professionals. There are more than 500 color photographs, supplemented by floor plans and helpful line illustrations. This one already is a Wall Street Journal and European best-seller with support from fashion-forward retailers. (The British launch party and signing was at Liberty and Becker’s U.S. author’s tour was sponsored by Anthropologie.) Becker currently lives in northern Germany with her husband and her sensibility is wonderfully international.

    Design Sponge at Home by Grace Bonney

    Design*Sponge at Home

    By Grace Bonney

    Artisan: Workman

    Bonney is pioneering decor blogger whose site, Design*Sponge is a virtual gathering point for those looking for tips on creating a uniquely individual style on a budget. This volume compiles 550 color photos of more than 50 different interiors and 100 interesting do-it-yourself projects submitted to her blog. This is the book for people unafraid to mix iconic furniture pieces with their favorite thrift store and flea market finds.

    Undecorate: The no-rules approach to interior design

    Undecorate: The No-Rules Approach to Interior Design 

    By Christiane Lemieux and Rumaan Alam 

    Clarkson Potter

    Blogger Christiane Lemieux, founder and creative director of the DwellStudio home decor company with her own fabric line, also designs for Target. Brightly colored interiors with splashy, printed graphic textiles are hallmarks of her decidedly unstuffy style. This is a book for those looking for guidance on how to introduce a bit of personality into their own home interiors. Essentially, the volume is built around profiles of 20 uniquely conceived interiors from across the country, including a Hollywood Anglophile’s flea-market furnished English manor and a Chicago loft whose owner turned a vintage Airstream trailer into a bedroom. If you’re fearlessly in pursuit of a genuinely individualistic approach to decor, there’s lots of inspiration here.

    Etcetera: Creating Beautiful Interiors with the Things You Love

    Etcetera: Creating Beautiful Interiors With the Things You Love

    By Sibella Court

    Murdoch Books

    Australian stylist Sibella Court recently opened a store called The Society Inc . in Sydney where she sells "hardware & haberdashery & treasures collected globetrotting & adventuring into terrains less trodden."   She captures this sensibility in her book Etcetera, a  lavishly illustrated, craft-paper tome that is packed with all the color and texture you’d expect from a world traveler. The great thing about it is that every photo demonstrates a professional design principle that you can translate into your own space without the need for formal renovation. Court’s sensibility is global and includes both vintage pieces and junk shop discoveries. The author’s elaboration of what can be done with her five favorite color schemes is one of this beautiful volume’s strong points.

    The Way Home: Reflections on American Beauty by Jeffrey Bilhuber

    The Way Home: Reflections on American Beauty

    By Jeffrey Bilhuber


    Jeffrey Bilhuber has become the decorator-of-choice to many of America’s top fashion editors and this collection of some of his most recent projects is a good indication of why. If you like to take a bit of inspiration from tradition or heirloom pieces, then this is the decor book that will fire your imagination. Bilhuber is a detail-focused designer, but never in a way that turns fussy or interferes with a room’s basic comfort—one of his hallmarks. If you’re looking for ways to blend the personal and practical with a nod to the past, this one is for you.


  • 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.

  • Good Reads Link Roundup - December, 2011

    Kari Whitman Photo

    Say goodbye to 2011! Here are some of our favorite links from the past month. Happy reading!

    Our very own blogger and designer-gal Kari Whitman (pictured above) was featured in this Wall Street Journal article on decor and pets. "With the right materials and the right training, you can have both beautiful furniture and also dogs in the house.." But what about dogs and cats, that's what I want to know! Click for some great tips from Kari.  

    Hilary Swank Home Photo

    This month's celebrity home to oogle is actress Hilary Swank's chic Manhattan apartment. See more in the Elle Decor feature.  

    Black Chandelier Photo

    In this Los Angeles Times feature, read how designer Lisa Adams created a light and airy dressing space from what used to be a dark walk-in closet. She used one of our black chandeliers to add a touch of Hollywood glamour. 

    An Organized Home Kitchen Photo

    Read home organization tips for the new year from the Lamps Plus design team in our "How Can I Get Organized for 2012?" press release.

    Onward to 2012! Happy "Year of the Dragon" to you alll!

    Photos thanks to The Wall Street Journal, Elle Decor, The Los Angeles Times and Lamps Plus.


  • 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


  • 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. Find more storage inspiration in our new collection of decorative cabinets

    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!

  • Traditional Minimalist Design

    Formal and Modern Rooms

    I don’t know about you, but I am tired of the holiday bloat. Bloat not only around my middle from too much food, but domestic bloat from the excess of gifts and decorations. A good cleanse is in order for both health and home. I’m not sure whether traditional minimalist design is an actual term, but I like it and it essentially says what it means. I look at it as a way to remain traditional at heart but willing to eliminate the “bloat” of too much stuff.

    Minimalism doesn’t need to be sterile, rather, it’s about the selection of a few key items that can affect your space. For example, the room above screams traditional due to the priceless architecture, but it is simply adorned. The daring, modern chandelier is a wonderful counterpoint to the fanciful wood, plasterwork and fireplace. Notice the absence of “stuff.”

    Foyer Design

    This foyer embodies this design aesthetic beautifully. Good architecture and a few key design choices. Simple antique pieces punctuate the green interior offering practical, stylish solutions to the needs of a front hall. The blue glass hurricane chandelier pops and adds interest. 

    Hurricane Style Lighting

    Lighting fixtures can have serious affect in any room, but sets the tone for your house if it’s in the foyer. This etched glass, hurricane hanging light is based on a traditional English style. Decorative hanging pendant lights such as this add a classic and traditional touch to any room. 

    French Interiors

    Classic herringbone floors are a rich base for any interior. The room is clearly traditional and has been kept sparse to enhance the architecture by using just a few monochromatic items. The brass chandelier is unadorned, minimal yet classic in form.

    Traditional Living Room Decor

    Simplicity is the order of the day with this living room. Elegant, but not overdone. It’s been kept so minimal that the pictures have not even been hung, and the lighting comes in the form of a floor lamp. Nary a fixture on the wall or one from above.

    Home Office Design Ideas

    Unadorned floors is another hallmark of the traditional minimalist office as it has been seen in the other rooms above. Keeping things basic is always best if this is the look you are trying to achieve. A computer, table lamp and just a few decorative things are all you need for inspiration.

    Avant Garde Decorating Ideas

    Books as art and furniture!  

    Traditional Interior

    I always think of a well-stocked bar as a thing of beauty, and maybe now you will concur? Simple walls and floors let the elegant lines of what looks to be a 1930s bar cart take center stage.

    Old Fashioned Style Bathroom

    I know, this post should have been about herringbone floors! Seriously, they are so gorgeous, why would anyone want to cover them up? A bathroom in the traditional minimalist design. Who knew that a fresh look at interiors would be so slimming? Bye bye bloat, hello simple and stylish.

    Photos courtesy of artandlair, Domino, lonnymag.


  • Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from the Lamps Plus Team!

    a christmas story

    Cheer up, it's Christmas! All of us here at LAMPS PLUS wish you and your family a safe, happy, and healthy holiday season. Hang out in your pajamas, enjoy some turkey and eggnog, and take in a classic holiday flick (A Christmas Story, anyone?).

    Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! 


    Image credit:


  • Designer James Saavedra Shares Exclusive Tips for Holiday Style - Part 2

    James Saavedra Design

    On Wednesday, we introduced you to designer James Saavedra of SAAVEDRA DESIGN STUDIO, who shared part 1 of his exclusive tips for holiday style at home. Today, James continues his guest appearance on Style Illuminated with inspirational home holiday decorating guides on four distinctly different themes. Welcome back James!


    Of course, I can’t leave you without a bevy of inspiration to spark your own approach to holiday style -- so here are just a few ideas:

    bronze holiday decor

    Embrace The Bronze Age (pictured above): A classic metal and color - in all its shades - bronze says tradition, investment, and recalls days gone by when industry was taking shape and objects were still hand forged to last a lifetime. A warm, welcoming touch bronze can skew vintage, industrial, masculine, feminine, and even playful. Make a statement with a large bronze star above your mantle (or on your entry door instead of a wreath); toss a pair of jacks under your tree; or accent  your dining table with a bronze pair of wings.

    Pictured: Eight Point Star Wall Decor, Set of 2 Canyon Bronze Large Jacks, and Bronze Pair of Wings

    gold and white holiday decor

    Perfect Pairing: Gold Meets White (Or Ivory):This match up of gold and warm white is classically rich, sophisticated, and effortlessly modern all at the same time.These are the colors that my brand is built upon- so I could be a tad partial. What I love about this combination is that you really eliminate guesswork or hours of thinking- it always works which allows you to be free and focus on the beauty. A little glimmer of gold is chic addition to any interior and a foundation of winter white, ivory, magnolia will never steer you wrong. A back-to-back pair of shimmery capiz shell flowers can be hung in a window; and simple large scale white accessories (like this oversized apple and mounted stag horn) are unexpected and chic.

    Here’s a great tip from my designer arsenal - try and find the sparkle from natural objects and finishes because its always soft and inspiring. Its just one reason my signature style has been called understated elegance.

    Pictured: Capiz Shell Flower (no longer available) Decorative Oversized White Apple, and Set of 2 Buck Antlers on White Base (no longer available).

    Simple holiday decor

    Simply Stated: Form. Function. Transparency.  Less is more and with this inspiration you’ll be employing one of my most stealth techniques: directing the viewer to see what you want them to see. What appears deceptively simple actually requires a lot more effort and attention to detail than one might imagine but these selections will point you in the right direction. Impact and uniformity is gained through using multiples of an object. By isolating any detail or decoration you immediately elevate its presence from something ordinary to noteworthy and special. The old-fashioned card holder display stand and mini bubble placecard holders can also double as your guests' take home gift; and a miniature tree housed inside a terrarium would be stunning and so much better than a big box Christmas tree.

    Pictured: Card Holder on Telescoping Display Stand, Pierre Large Hexagon Terrarium, and Set of 8 Mini Glass Bubble Placecard Holders.

    Unique holiday decor

    Lead, Do Not Follow: The holidays are whatever you want them to be and that includes holiday style. Who says you can’t have a unique vision, interesting objects, and a huge dose of personality. This is not for the faint of heart nor those who wish to blend into the sea of peppermint and holly.  No, my friends, this approach is about living bold, marching to your own beat and leaving a trail blazed with color! Instead of a tree, cluster multiple topiaries together and set this bold red pair of lions in front or on each side to stand guard. For those with a fireplace - replace your log with candles and create a screen with these green soldiers. Yes, still add the lions!

    Pictured: Set of 2 Red Ceramic Lions, Set of 2 Sphere Topiaries, and Set of 2 Conical Topiaries (all no longer available).


    Thanks James! You can follow James Saavedra's work on his blog, Decor Fellow, or his website,  SAAVEDRA DESIGN STUDIO.


  • Christmas Music Mixtape for Holiday Entertaining

    Holiday Tablescape Design

    Are you ready for your holiday party - Christmas decorations - check, pumpkin pie - check, what about a Christmas music mixtape? It is fun to put together a mix of Christmas songs to play during dinner or an evening party. A few of my holiday favorites can be sampled below.

    1. "All I Want for Christmas is You" - Mariah Carey
    2. "Santa Baby" - Taylor Swift
    3. "Blue Christmas" - Elvis
    4. "Auld Lang Syne" - Guy Lombardo
    5. "Baby, It's Cold Outside" - Ray Charles
    6. "Feliz Navidad" - Jose Feliciano
    7. "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" - Kenny G
    8. "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause" - Jackson 5
    9. "Last Christmas" - Wham!
    10. "Merry Christmas Baby" - Chuck Berry

    What will you be listening to this Christmas?

    Image: Sweet Something Designs

  • 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.


December, 2011