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.

  • Going for Baroque: A Versailles-Inspired London Flat

    Palace of Versailles

    If you’re the sort of person whose idea of a perfect Sunday morning includes café au lait, flakey croissants, French jam, a thick newspaper and Bach on the radio, then maybe you’re secretly longing for a touch of Baroque in your life. It’s a style that’s unfairly taken on a dismissive reputation in the decades since Modernism burst on the scene, especially since many people tend to confuse it with the excesses of the Rocco period that came afterward. The Baroque used an accumulation of expressive and beautiful detail to convey a sense of joyful exuberance and grandeur. To pull it off, however, requires a kind of lovely compositional tension. Just remember, harmony and counterpoint were what set Bach’s wonderful music apart from the polyphony that had gone before. 

    Bed Chamber at Versailles

    There’s a magnificent Italian and wonderful Middle European Baroque style, but when most of us think of that look, it’s the Paris of Louis XIV that comes to mind. His great palace at Versailles, with its gorgeous chandeliers and crystal candelabras, and his additions and refurbishments to the Louvre are monuments to that dramatic but somehow lovely exuberance that has captivated lovers of formal beauty ever since. The era's key elements can easily be incorporated into a modern setting, as the owner of this Bassett Road flat did in London.

    A gilded living room at a stylish London flat

    There’s nothing quite like a Baroque gesture to bring a touch of elegant drama into an otherwise formal modern living room or dining room. At the London flat, all it takes is a pair of arm chairs done in the Baroque variation called “empire.” Note how the deep blue of the upholstery and the resonant gold of the wood frame perfectly match that musical ideal - harmony and counterpoint.

    Blue painted walls and satin dresses

    Deep color and a splash of gold trim can bring a touch of the Baroque into your intimate spaces, but don’t forget the part that texture has to play. The Baroque is about satin, as in the hanging slippers, ruffles and, even, brocades. Remember, it’s the accumulation of beautiful details that makes the look. The triple vanity mirror in this bedroom is a perfect complimentary touch.

    A blue formal dress becomes art against a blue wall

    You can introduce a wonderfully evocative hint of the Baroque with nothing more than a few strips of gold-painted stock molding and a deep wash of a green or blue hue. A vintage dress set against such a backdrop suddenly takes on the attributes of art, which is sort of what the Baroque does for everything and everyone it surrounds.  

    A gilded settee defines this Baroque niche

    Baroque is fearless of beauty even when it tends to exuberant eccentricity, as in the case of this wonderful corner chair with its applied medallion and shell leg design. The fan and hanging slippers are the perfect counterpoint to the elaborate gold frame and the deep color completes a wonderfully gilded vignette.

    Decor photos by 1st Option.

  • Choosing Colors: Lavender

    Wallpaper Ideas

    Purple and lavender can be tricky to use when choosing to use the color in your home. If you immediately conjure up images of Doris Day movies or your long-gone grandmother’s bedroom, I pity you, because lavender can be insanely chic. Don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of Pillow Talk and lavender, if used sparingly and properly. 

    Office Spaces

    Lavender is primarily a feminine color, but not always, and can add visual excitement with very little effort. The delicate purple bird found in the Chinoiserie wallpaper is used as a jumping off point to introduce the purple ceramic table lamp, pale lavender upholstered chair cushions and painting. Although this room reads “colorful” it is primarily a neutral space.     

    Table Lamps

    All it takes is one bold beautiful table lamp to set the tone for a designer-inspired space.

    Contemporary Interiors

    Here is a more contemporary interior using lavender as a highly successful accent color.  I think it’s very stylish to pair the lavender covered antique French chair with the other blocky, geometric pieces of furniture. Notice how the chair becomes a true focal point, yet the space remains soothing?

    Library Decor Ideas

    This traditional library is intended to be cozy and warm. By upholstering in darker shades of purple and lavender velvet the room takes on a clubby and more masculine vibe. Another trick to de-feminize the color in this room was to introduce the worn, brown leather sofa, dark walls and a warm ceiling light in brass.  

    Purple Curtains

    Making lavender appear more tropical is easy. By using gauzy, lavender linen for the curtains, this room exhibits a more casual feel. Remember the “tooth” or “feel” of your fabric will usually dictate how the room will appear. 

    Decorating Front Halls

    This foyer is a study in bright and breezy. However, without the deeper, purple patterned area rug to ground the space, you may feel that you have approached the pearly gates a tad too soon!

    Home Interior Pictures

    I could write volumes about how much I love this silk and seagrass lavender wallpaper. The soft and gentle tones of this paper make it soothing to the eye. Mind you, anything darker, in my opinion, would be vulgar. Black lamp shades and mirror grounds the space and gives the eye a place to rest. Because the walls and sofa are solid it was smart to introduce lavender in patterns for the pillows and chairs.

    Lamp Shades

    A lavender replacement lamp shade is a great way to revive an old lamp and create a more soothing tone to most rooms.

    Modern Bedroom Decor

    This eclectic bedroom is very fun and creatively designed. Hanging light fixtures add an exotic tone as they free-up space on the nightstands. Lavender accent pillows warm up the pale headboard and walls without becoming overbearing. If a trip to the lavender fields of France is not on the books for this year, lavender at home may be the way to go.

    Photos courtesy of Oliveaux, Cinoiserie Chic,  Zhush

  • Style Illuminated Blogger Lesley Myrick Talks Collage Art

    Lesley Myrick and Collage Artwork

    Today, I am really excited to interview interior designer, Lesley Myrick. Lesley is also an incredible collage artist and I have had the pleasure of getting to know her in the office over the last few months. Lesley's collage art is so inspirational that I wanted to ask her a few questions about incorporating personal art in your home.

    Interior Designer Lesley Myrick

    LAMPS PLUS: When did you know you wanted to be an interior designer/graphic artist?

    LESLEY MYRICK: I knew I wanted to be an interior designer for just about as long as I can remember. When I was about 5 or 6 years old, I decided that I wanted to rearrange the furniture in my bedroom. Of course, I was too small to push it around on my own, so thankfully my very supportive dad stepped in and did the heavy lifting for me. From then on, my love of design, decorating, space planning, and organizing only grew. By ninth grade I was choosing my classes based on an art and design emphasis and pursuing a diploma in interior design was the next step.

    On the flip side, I didn't know I wanted to be a graphic artist until it just sort of...happened! In my early twenties I started playing around with mixed media and collage art and fell in love with the process. I also began blogging and out of necessity I started tinkering around with web design and web graphics to customize my blog. Friends and acquaintances began approaching me to design logos, album artwork, wedding invitations, web graphics, and custom artwork, and the "art and design" side of my business was born. I've always been the "creative type" and I think this avenue is just a natural extension of the talents I feel so blessed to have been given.

    Lesley Myrick and Giclee Lamp Shade and Collage Art

    LAMPS PLUS: You first started your design career in Canada. How is the design style different in Canada versus the United States?

    LESLEY MYRICK: I can't speak for all of Canada and the United States, but I've worked in both Toronto and Los Angeles and there are definitely differences in their design worlds. Interior design in Toronto is a little more refined - chic, sophisticated, tailored, and classic. Los Angeles certainly has that too, but I've found that there's more of a desire here for something different - designs that are quirky, creative, and eclectic.

    Lesley Myrick and Collage Art

    LAMPS PLUS: I love your collage art! What inspires each piece?

    LESLEY MYRICK: Well, thanks! I'm constantly on the lookout for interesting materials to use in my collages - scrapbook paper, vintage books, maps, magazine clippings, found ephemera and the materials I've collected definitely inspire the design. I also love words, quotes, and typefaces, so a great quote or fantastic font can spark an idea for an art piece.

    LAMPS PLUS: What are a few tips for how to incorporate collage art into your home?

    LESLEY MYRICK: Since creating collage is all about layering, I loved the layered, collected look for displaying it. Grouping frames in a gallery style display is perfect - a cluster of small frames gives the illusion of a larger piece of art and it's a great way to mix art and family photos in a relaxed way. I also love simple displays that have charm - above my sofa I've tacked up a length of twine that I casually clip artwork to.

    LAMPS PLUS: What are some ways to add personal art to your home when you are uh...not artistically talented?

    LESLEY MYRICK: The appeal of collage art is that it's simple and you never have to start from a blank canvas, you're taking existing elements and rearranging them to create something new and beautiful. Keep your eyes open for pretty textures and surfaces and play around with layering two or three of them. For exmple, a vintage book page with a cutout shape from a colorful magazine page glued on top is elegantly simple, but rich in texture. Trust your gut. Go with what feels good. And then frame it - you just made art, baby!

    Lesley Myrick and Collage Artwork

    LAMPS PLUS: When designing a space do you select the artwork or furnishings first?

    LESLEY MYRICK: I always select the furnishings first. Once the big pieces are in place, it allows you to see where wall art will fit best, as well as lighting, and home accessories. I usually have an idea of what artwork I'd like to use and where, but I don't start pounding nails into the wall until I know the main furniture pieces are in place and the space is functioning and flowing well. (Although admittedly, I'm impatient and sometimes just want to hang something up to feel a sense of accomplishment!)

    Giclee Table Lamp and Collage Art at Lamps Plus

    LAMPS PLUS: What do you love most about the Giclee lamps?

    LESLEY MYRICK: I love that you can mix and match different shades and bases to create a look that really "clicks" for you. The paley white base on the Silver Baroque Giclee Paley White Table Lamp is my favorite - the glossy candlestick style is so chic and looks expensive!

    LAMPS PLUS: Because you are constantly perusing the Lamps Plus catalog, you have had the chance to see a wide variety of our products. What are 3 cool light fixtures that you just love?

    LESLEY MYRICK: We've got some modern lighting with fabulous design lines. I love the fact that these fixtures have such beautiful curves and angles that they're stunning in simple white - no color or embellishment needed. Even though I adore color and pattern, I have a weakness for the classic elegance of black and white.

    Eloise White Wire Table Lamp at Lamps Plus

    Eloise White Wire Table Lamp

    Robert Abbey Delta Lily Table Lamp at Lamps Plus

     Robert Abbey Delta Lily Table Lamp

    Tetra Collection Tiffany Style Large Chandelier at Lamps Plus

    Tetra Collection Tiffany Style 4-Light Large Chandelier

    Images: Lesley Myrick

  • Chandeliers in Unexpected Places

    A black beaded chandelier adds punch to this kitchen

    Nothing warms up and personalizes your home decorating like a good dose of the unexpected - like hanging chandeliers in unusual places. It offers that little pop of surprise that elevates a room and hints that the person who put it together has taste and sensibility rather than just an eye for codified style. Lighting is one of the easiest ways to introduce the unexpected into your home décor and the right fixture in the unconventional place can be daring, whimsical or even romantic. Take the chandelier, for example. There’s virtually nothing that says tradition and stuffy convention quite like an elaborate crystal or decorative iron fixture hanging from the ceiling - and nothing that gives you quite the same pop when you pry it from its routine context.

    A contemporary kitchen with the requisite stainless steel appliances and island bar suddenly takes on a happy touch of old world elegance when lit with a black-beaded chandelier. The unexpected impact is that introducing a touch of  elegance somehow warms the space and brings its clean contemporary lines into sharper focus. Who knew?

    To give a bath room extra elegance, add a chandelier over the bath tub.

    A hanging crystal chandelier really comes into its own when paired with an graceful standing tub and the crispness of a euro-styled bath. Add a dimmer switch and suddenly all that pristine white and gleaming nickel takes on the soft glow of romance.

    A chandelier gives adult sophistication to a baby's bedroom.

    A chandelier (hung out of reach) over a baby’s crib? Why not. It’s hard to imagine that a tot  wouldn’t be delighted staring at that elegant glitter. One of the things this example points out is how the impact of the hanging fixture is magnified by sympathetic pairings - in this case, a couple of wonderfully rococo chairs. If this baby doesn’t grow up with an appreciation of unconventionally stylish design, it’s certainly not mom or dad’s fault!

    A chandelier add whimsy and elegance to this horse stable.

    A beaded crystal draped chandelier ought to look absurd in a stable’s box stall. . .and yet. This example may be over the top, but it’s rich in what it suggests about the chandelier’s power to imply a certain formal beauty and a sense of humor.

    Artist Werner Reiterer creates street art by hanging a chandelier from a light post.

    If there was ever a stunning example of just how versatile an elaborately traditional chandelier can be, it’s this public art piece by Werner Reiterer with a sly sense of humor. Let’s face it, wouldn’t all our streets be better and more romantically evocative places to stroll and daydream if they were lit with such fixtures? Here’s to the romantic flexibility of formal chandeliers once freed from the foyer or dining room.  

    Photo credits:  Dominio Magazine,  Nate Berkus decor,  Annie Schlechter "Room for Children" Rizzoli,  ChandiDesign,  Werner Reiterer

  • Redecorating: Lucite Accent Furniture

    Console Table Decor

    I know it’s not quite time for spring cleaning, but there are easy ways to lighten the look of a room without clearing out and without the hassle of a time consuming yard sale. Incorporating lucite accent furniture, like a lucite console table, in a room will instantly create the sense of more space while not sacrificing storage or seating. Lucite offers a weightless elegance and functionality.

    Living Room Decor

    This eclectic living room is a wild ride of furniture styles and mixed within this wide array is a small lucite stool on casters. Whether you want to use it as extra seating or a surface for a drink, a portable piece of furniture like this is just right. 

    Country Bedroom Decor

    Another great seating option is this retro 1970s style stool. Used as a desk chair, vanity stool or small side table, it’s an unexpected addition to an original design scheme.   

    Contemporary Kitchen Design

    Speaking of unexpected, these incredible lucite counter stools don’t overpower the large center island of this contemporary kitchen. Wisely, they are upholstered for comfort and on casters for easy movement. Lucite is a great option for the kitchen as they can easily be wiped down for easy cleaning.

    Black and White Home Design

    From stools to sophisticated seating. This highly stylized living room introduces a curved lucite side chair for a touch of glamour and balances it by placing a geometric lucite table lamp on the adjacent side table.

    Traditional Bedroom Decoration

    Even an antique-filled bedroom can sport a little pop culture. This bubble chair disappears but still manages to offer womb-like seating.

    Rustic Dining Rooms

    Ghost chairs are a timeless look. I love the juxtaposition of the rough stone and weathered table with the slick clear plastic. The clear ceiling light balances the chairs beautifully.

    Front Hall Design Ideas

    Lucite can also be a chic base for lamps and accessories as this image displays. There is a lightness and glow to Lucite that seems at odds with its strength. Thankfully, they work in harmony.   

    Dressing Room Decoration

    Lucite can take on just about any shape, so it’s no surprise that lucite furniture can be curved or formed to take on a neoclassical style like this table which is the same as in the first image above.   

    Dining Room Decor

    Any size or style dining room can benefit from the use of a lucite side table. It visually doesn’t take up much room and offers surface and serving space for entertaining. 

    Soothing Bedroom Design

    I love this bedroom. It’s soft, comfortable and stylish. Like the other rooms, there is a great mix of antiques and lucite. The lucite nightstand is totally functional, but also has an ethereal quality that compliments the pale creams and pinks in the room. Lucite is a clear winner.

    Photos courtesy of Eclectic Revisited, Rue Mag, The NeoTraditionalist

  • Mix and Match Interior Design

    Brentwood Living Room

    What's the most important thing to remember about Mix and Match Interior Design? Things don't have to make sense! Mix old with new, mix materials, or follow runway trends and mix up patterns - anything that isn't necessarily an obvious fit can work when it comes to mix and match decor.

    In this Brentwood Living Room, I mix copper with silver, contemporary with traditional, classic with kitsch; anything goes and everything works! It's all about eclectic self-expressionism, bringing together great pieces that create an amazing vibe when put together.

    Bronze and Silver Champagne Wall Art

    1. Mix and Match Metals. There's an old rule about never mixing metals like silver and gold. I definitely ignored that when working on a new home for one of my favorite clients, a 20 bedrooom Texas estate, in all silvers and golds. It's fantastic! This bronze and champagne silver wall art hits the mark and is the perfect blend of mixed metals. I also love capiz shells and this piece gets it just right.  

    Wall Art

    2. Mix and Match Art. If you want to add a folksy vibe to your stark, contemporary interior, or a modern update to your rustic digs, think art! Artwork is the best way to achieve mix and match interior design that's truly your own.

    For me, checking out an Art Walk here in LA is the best way to discover incredible work and emerging talents. Can't find one in your area? Fear not! There's an incredible variety of quality art available online. Lamps Plus is one of my favorite wall art resources.

    Brushed Nickel Wall Sconce

    3. Mix and Match Styles. Rooms don't have to be cut from the same cloth - it's the differences that make them interesting, so take a risk with mismatched styles. Sometimes you'll even find a single piece that combines different styles for you!

    I love this brushed nickel wall sconce that strikes the perfect note between glam and edgy. The classic, sophisticated shape is made modern with the use of metal. Not only that, you'd expect this kind of cylindrical drop on a ceiling mount, but it's a wall sconce. I love the unexpectedness of it! Perfect mix and match interior design style.

    Zuo Atom Bench Sofa

    4. Mix and Match Functions. I am obsessed with this Zuo Atom White Bench Sofa. It's utter perfection as a relaxed lounger and doubles as a super sleek sofa for entertaining. In spite of its high style, it's a fairly neutral piece that would work perfectly in a room filled with eclectic, mix and match interior design.

    Another outside-the-box seating solution? Upholster dining chairs in different patterns, gather chairs in different styles that speak to you, or paint each chair a different color. They don't have to match or even make sense. As long as the fabrics, colors, or lines represent your vibe, you'll be creating a wonderful space full of artistic self-expressionism!

    Photos courtesy of Kari Whitman Interiors

  • California Home+Design Magazine's 2012 Award Winners

    Jeff Andrews and California Home+Design Awards

    Jeff Andrews: Kitchen + Bath Design

    It's that time of year again when interior designers and product designers submit their best projects for California Home+Design's annual awards. The award categories include residential projects, commercial projects, kitchen + bath design, showhouse design, sustainable architecture, landscape design, and sustainable and new product design.

    The big winner this year was celebrity interior designer Jeff Andrews (known for designing the homes of Ryan Secrest and Khloe Kardashian). He took home two awards - residential interior design (more than 3,000 sq. ft.) and kitchen + bath design. His stunning kitchen design is on the cover of this month's issue. Check out the lighting in the Jeff Andrews kitchen design! I love the new trend of using modern pendant lights and chandeliers in kitchens.

    California Home+Design Awards and Jeff Andrews and Kitchen Design

    Jeff Andrews: Kitchen + Bath Design

    California Home+Design Awards and Dining Room Design and Jeff Andrews

    Jeff Andrews: Residential Interior Design (more than 3,000 sq. ft.)

    San Francisco interior designer, Jeff Jeffers, took home the Residential Interior Design (less than 3,000 sq. ft.) award. I can definitely see why his style is a favorite. I love his eclectic mix of artwork in the dining room (featured below) that creates a cozy space for entertaining guests.

    Dining Room Design and California Home+Design Awards

    Jay Jeffers: Residential Interior Design (less than 3,000 sq. ft.)

    Residential architecture was one of the categories of the California Home+Design's awards. The very talented Zoltan Pali, who is known for designing large modern homes in the Hollywood Hills, won the Residential Architecture (more than 3,000 sq. ft.) award. I remembered this particular project (featured below) from a past AIA home tour. I personally toured the home and can tell you that it is pretty amazing in person!

    Modern Architecture and Hollywood Hills and Zoltan Pali

     Zoltan Pali: Residential Architecture (more than 3,000 sq. ft.)

    Want to see even more winners from this year's California Home+ Design awards? Head over to California Home+Design to see the complete list of this year's winners. 

    Images: Grey Crawford, Tim Street-Porter, Joe Fletcher, Bruce Damonte

  • Design Influences: Natural Materials

    Natural Decor in Home Design

    I think every home should exhibit a nod to nature and natural elements. Natural materials add texture and warmth to a home which translates to comfort. Touching something organic is instantly familiar and visually important to most spaces. Whether you introduce more greenery to a space or natural linen fabrics, every element counts and should be celebrated. To me, some of the most important natural materials come from world travel and the way other cultures embrace a more holistic approach to design.

    European Country Kitchen

    As a culture we are obsessed with fabulous kitchens. Yes, I am guilty of it too, however this kitchen is a perfect example of how little we really need regarding the mod-cons (modern conveniences). Rough hewn wood counters, tables and sink surround are a humble companion to the natural marble counter above the dishwasher. I love the well-worn natural wood cutting boards propped up as if art, though fully functional.

    Wood Table Lamps

    Natural wood lamps (similar to the lamp above) echo the organic designs and are beautiful when perfectly complimented by a natural, no-fuss shade.

    Carved Wood Tables

    Just because it’s made from bare wood, doesn’t mean it can be over-the-top gorgeous, like this ornate, carved wood French table. I adore the fact that by simply looking at the table I can immediately know how it will feel to the touch.

    English Kitchens

    From France to eclectic England with the introduction of natural stone-fired pottery and family heirlooms, every inch of this space is filled with nature. From the simply painted wood walls to the traditional woven cloth. Talk about no-fuss! I love that there is no fear of keeping up with the neighbors...if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

    Natural Colored Throws

    Natural can also mean luxury. Worn furniture can be comfortable and cozy, but it’s a necessity. You can introduce nature elements that are fully top-drawer. Cashmere throws and beautiful embroidered linens totally count when designing a home.

    Flush Mount Lights

    Natural design elements can also look contemporary. This sleek, natural woven flush-mount ceiling light is thoroughly modern, but introduces warm wood and rattan texture to virtually any room in the house.

    Bedroom Design for Warm Climates

    Let’s discuss the influence of Indian design when it comes to natural materials. While I am a huge fan of muted colors when it comes to linens and bedding, India offers some of the most richly, highly saturated colors in the world. This bedroom is serene and simple, but it’s the type of room you want to peruse slowly and touch every surface.   

    Replacement Shades

    Replacement shades are a good way to change the look of a space and introduce natural materials.

    Living Room Design and Indian Inspiration

    This room exhibits a tribal/colonial approach to natural objects and fibers. Bold patterns made from organic thread adds visual interest. Grounded by a woven sisal rug and accent tables in glorious natural wood balance beautifully. The multitude of patterns is not jarring because they are all in the same, eclectic, global traveler vein.  

    Wood End Tables

    This organic wood-top table is cute, functional and itching to introduce a natural spark to your home.

    Terrace Design Ideas

    While this Indian interior may not be totally practical to your way of life, elements can be borrowed to make your home more interesting. A woven daybed or reclaimed wood table may be just enough to keep things interesting and make you move in the direction of embracing nature as the source of all things domestic.

    Photos courtesy of Belgian Pearls, An Indian Summer, Eclectic Revisited

  • An Interview with Interior Designer Betsy Burnham

    Burnham Design

    Betsy Burnham, principal of Burnham Design, is a modern day interior design icon. Known for her sophisticated and inviting design style that skillfully layers pattern, texture, color, and periods, her signature look has been coined an “unapologetic mix” that has been imitated by many but mastered by few. I chatted with the oh-so-stylish Betsy about her trademark design aesthetic, her innovative e-design services, and a few of her favorite things.  

    LAMPS PLUS: Couture, thrift, and vintage pieces mesh beautifully in your designs. What is your favorite design style?  Is that how your home is decorated?
    BETSY BURNHAM: For me, it really is about the mix: clean, simple building elements and classic furniture pieces mixed with touches of Asian, and even a little Mid-Century inspiration. I’m drawn to pattern and color and really appreciate it when I get a sense of a homeowner’s personality through their design. My own home, which is actually traditional in style and sort of 1920’s Mediterranean, is really layered with all sorts of high/low pieces I've collected over the years.

    LAMPS PLUS: What or who has most influenced your own design aesthetic?
    BETSY BURNHAM: I studied fine art in college, along with a lot of art history and I think that’s where I got a sense of scale and proportion. My love of color and appreciation of fine textiles came later, from working in the fashion industry.  In addition, I've always loved street style and understanding what’s current - that’s also certainly an influence.

    Burnham Design interiors

    Burnham Design portfolio

    LAMPS PLUS: Your background is in fashion and clearly your knowledge and experience from the fashion world has been influential in your design business. What other training or experience prepared you for running your own firm and how did you decide to take the leap from fashion to interiors?
    BETSY BURNHAM: I got some interior design training at UCLA, but mostly I’ve learned by doing the job. The creative part of interior design has come naturally and grown more or less organically; the business side, however, has taken a long time to get right.  I’ve just learned to make sure I ask experts for advice and that I always have a strong support team.

    LAMPS PLUS: What designers do you most admire?
    BETSY BURNHAM: Joe Nye, Peter Dunham & Max Humphrey (my senior project manager)

    LAMPS PLUS: What do you see as the next design trend?
    BETSY BURNHAM: Anything done online. The whole concept of “e-decorating” has only just begun.

    LAMPS PLUS: What is one “trick of the trade” that you implement in your designs?
    BETSY BURNHAM: I never push furniture up against the walls of the room.  By pulling your seating arrangement in (even if you only have a few inches), you instantly warm up a space and create flow.

    Burnham Design family room

    LAMPS PLUS: What is the best design advice you ever received?
    BETSY BURNHAM: Good. Fast. Cheap. Pick two (because you can’t have all three). This originally applied to building and construction, but I've found it can apply to just about every part of the design process!

    LAMPS PLUS: When decorating, what items should you invest or splurge on?
    BETSY BURNHAM: Buy solid, well made upholstery. Some of the stuff out there right now is tempting because it looks cool and costs next to nothing…but it won’t last. If you invest in your upholstered pieces, you’ll be able to balance your budget with inexpensive, stylish accessories and side pieces. Also, it’s never too soon to start collecting original artwork. Keep your eyes open for new, upcoming artists - there are even great online sites & auctions.

    Burnham Design contemporary living room

    Burnham Design dining room decorating

    LAMPS PLUS: What is your favorite guilty pleasure that might surprise people?
    BETSY BURNHAM: I’m a big Madonna fan.

    LAMPS PLUS: What is your favorite thing at home that you didn't design?
    BETSY BURNHAM: My son’s drum set is in a corner of our living room. Originally, we thought this was going to be temporary, but I’ve come to love it in there. Adds a little edge.

    LAMPS PLUS: What would be your dream project?
    BETSY BURNHAM: A collaboration with The Rug Company, and/or Lamps Plus.

    LAMPS PLUS: Who are your style icons?
    BETSY BURNHAM: Diane von Furstenberg, Jenna Lyons, and Mary Kate & Ashley Olsen

    LAMPS PLUS: What is your favorite luxury in life?
    BETSY BURNHAM: High quality bedding.

    LAMPS PLUS: What do you consider your must-have classic design books?
    BETSY BURNHAM: Time-Saver Standards for Interior Design and Space Planning and Elle Décor’s So Chic.

    Burnham Design teen girl's bedroom decorating

    LAMPS PLUS: Your instant/space program – do-it-yourself custom designed spaces – is incredibly innovative and a huge success. It has been featured in publications like Domino magazine, Lonny magazine, O at Home magazine, and the New York Times, as well as on some of the better known decorating blogs like Decor8, Design*Sponge, and Apartment Therapy. You were one of the first designers to offer an e-design service for clients who don't have the budget for full-service design treatment, who don't live near your office, or who prefer to implement the design themselves with your expert guidance. How did instant/space get started and how did it change the way you do business?

    BETSY BURNHAM: Instant/space began when I first started Burnham Design and was building the business, I found I was having to turn down small projects - clients who only wanted one or two rooms done (in favor of full house jobs). It was frustrating because these were valid clients who appreciated my design sensibility and to whom I hated to say no to. I developed instant/space as a way to accommodate them and it grew and grew from there. It’s changed the way I do business not only because of the way it’s expanded my client base, but also because it keeps me on my design toes. We do so many rooms through instant/space, so quickly, that my skills have really been sharpened. I can lay out a furniture plan, select a palette, and make decisions about furniture pieces more quickly and efficiently than ever.
    LAMPS PLUS: Can you tell us about any projects in the works that you are excited about?
    BETSY BURNHAM: I’m working on the next phase/generation of instant/space.  It won’t be realized for awhile, but I think I have a really great idea.

    Burnahm Design offices

    LAMPS PLUS: How important is home lighting to your design?
    BETSY BURNHAM: Lighting is hugely important to me. Every night, I walk around my own house adjusting lighting in every room. It makes my family crazy. I work hard with clients to find the right mix of ambient lighting for each of their spaces.
    LAMPS PLUS: What are you obsessed with right now?
    BETSY BURNHAM: Contemporary art collections, fur throws, Uncle Eddie’s vegan cookies, and Pinterest. 

    Burnahm Design office decorating 

    LAMPS PLUS: What is your go to paint color?

    BETSY BURNHAM: Dunn Edwards’ Silver Spoon, a very pale blue/grey that looks terrific in both kitchens and bedrooms. 

    LAMPS PLUS: What is your favorite furniture piece and why? 
    BETSY BURNHAM: It may sound obvious, but I absolutely love parsons tables. As dining tables, coffee tables, desks, consoles…it’s a clean, timeless shape that can be dressed up or down and looks right in any decor.

    LAMPS PLUS: What is your favorite design accessory?
    BETSY BURNHAM: I can’t possibly only pick one. I love trays - from simple silver ones bedside to my favorite python tray that serves as an inbox on my desk. I also love baskets, Asian pottery, and I'm crazy about strands of old tribal beads.

    LAMPS PLUS: What Lamps Plus products have been catching your eye?

    BETSY BURNHAM: I love a beautiful porcelain lamp – and a crackle finish catches my eye, as do beautiful designer lamps. I love Chinoiserie chairs, and unique décor such as these whimsical oversize decorative jacks.

    Lamps Plus and Set of Two Cast Iron Giant Jack

    For more information about Betsy and her interior design services, please visit Burnham Design and Instant/Space.

    Images courtesy of Burnham Design

  • How to Decorate Like a Parisian

    A mix of flea market finds and antiques define this lovely Paris apartment.

    Paris is a city of many moods and its flats and grand apartments reflect that. Think of it this way: When you dress for a changeable climate, you layer. The Paris look does precisely that with décor; it’s a style that suggests layers of time and, more important personal experience. It is a style that elevates the individual eye above any particular look or fashion. For that reason, mixing flea market finds and pieces of fine furniture is common. It’s a design gesture that says, I know what’s beautiful whether the price is high or low. It’s also a look that punctures any pretense and adds a welcome touch of whimsy.

    Overstuffed furniture and black and white photos add drama to this Paris living room.

    Parisian interiors routinely mix contemporary and vintage art on their walls. Once again, the mixture suggests both the passage of time and an individual taste that stands apart from any particular era. The trick is to choose pieces that either complement one another in size and style—or act as dramatic counterpoints to one another. Anything in the middle risks looking muddled and thrown together. Your art, whether purchased from a gallery or salvaged from some thrift shop bin must look like it was chosen to reflect your taste.

    A pink wall is the perfect backdrop for vintage art in this Paris apartment.

    One of the striking things about a Parisian flat often is the way they unselfconsciously blend drama with comfort—a single huge painting, often a portrait, beside comfortable furnishings that invite an afternoon of quiet reading. Side tables and a stack of colorful decorative pillows adds dramatic effect.

    A dramatic antique crystal chandelier defines this Paris bedroom.

    Don’t forget what an over-the-top chandelier, particularly crystal, can do for a room. It adds instant glitter with a hint of tradition.

    A gilt-framed mirror and modern furnishings add interest to this Paris living room.

    Perhaps it’s the lingering influence of Louis XIV’s famous hall of mirrors, but nobody makes better use of mirrors than a Parisian. An oversized mirror can make a small space seem much larger or add an element of glitzy, high-style drama, when elaborately framed. Go the other way and frame simply—either with ebony or gilt—and you’ve got a chic contemporary look that seems to make everything it reflects worthy of contemplation. Add a candle or two and the room will come glowingly to life as the shadows lengthen.

    Photos from Elle Decor.


February, 2012