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.
LAMPS PLUS Blog Policies
Getting away from it all doesn’t mean you have to leave home, especially if you want to create beach inspired rooms. Too often people are far too literal when designing with a theme in mind, so please don’t toss a few seahorse prints on the mantle and think you have created a beachside getaway... yikes. I was totally enraptured with the beach photographs by Cheryl Maeder, who captures the essence of what a day at the beach is really about: color, shapes and mood. I thought it would be an interesting idea to find rooms that mirror her images.
This dining room captures the serene and uncluttered feeling from the beach scene above, pale blues and pale sandy colors keep it simple. Matchstick window treatments, a natural wood table and wicker style parsons dining room chairs maintain a link to nature. Genius how the drum ceiling light is in a pale, sky blue.
Here is a living room that combines the sandy tones of the beach with the pale blues of the sky. Notice how the designer has mixed up the use of a hanging curtain at the French door and uses a contrasting roman shade on the double-hung window? Don’t be afraid to add variety. Cute tripod table lamp!
A serene corner of this sunroom captures the feel of a deserted, pale and sandy beach.
This bedroom also echoes the serenity of a relaxing and pristine beach. Remember to keep the color scheme watered-down, just shy of pastel. Even a remote control ceiling fan has an easy-going, island feel.
The bold colors of this image feels more like an island beach, but can easily be adapted to interior design without looking too Caribbean-kitsch.
Look Ma, no papier mache birds! Bold ocean colors without looking cheesy. No doubt that after a trip to the flea market to find the right chest or buffet, coupled with a few coats of paint could result in something similar.
Seriously? The bold blue desk is so chic. I love this home office. Please try this at home!
This coastal living room screams beach. Am I insane, but I actually think this fish tank works in the room, and I never think they do. The nod to the great outdoors is also accomplished by using the large-scale, lantern-style ceiling light.
A tale of two blues. Does this capture the photograph or what? Simple, beachy and yet the space remains elegant.
This final image captures a busy day at the beach, which from a distance is a cacophony of color dotting the landscape. Not serene, but joyful.
The summer getaway bunkhouse captures the mood of the busy beach. Vibrant color and pattern punctuate the simple pale cream walls and watery blue of the floor. The tongue and groove wood, bunk beds and retro metal ceiling fan are a nod to lazy summer days and summer camp. Summer escapes, why must they ever end?
Images: House of Turquoise and Cheryl Maeder Photography
Many people who have not traveled to South America do not know what to expect when they arrive in Buenos Aires. The massive city has an immensely European feel and an incredible energy. Many say it is the New York or Paris of South America. It is a stunning city, made only more so by the beautifully maintained historic architecture and interior home decor. A great number of buildings have been preserved, restored and repurposed which adds to the charm of Buenos Aires and gives us glimpse back in time to the origins of this metropolitan city. There are so many great design styles that make up the city's diverse style. Play close attention to the indoor wall lights and other lighting fixtures as a clue to the design style of the various historical buildings in the city.
The most formative years of construction in Buenos Aires were between the 1880s and 1920s, when many immigrants were coming to live in this newly established, wealthy and rapidly growing city. Three dominant architectural styles emerged during this time: Neoclassical, Art Nouveau and Art Deco. Each style is clearly depicted throughout the construction, iron work and detailing of the buildings. These architectural styles reflect the utopian ambitions of the designers as well as their immigrant heritage. They now serve as a marker of the thriving, cultural melting pot that was and still is Buenos Aires.
Neoclassical architecture is very hard to miss as you wander the streets of Buenos Aires. With strong Italian and French influences, neoclassical construction is very dominant throughout the city. Classical Greek architectural markers are strewn across these buildings: think columns, goddesses and classical ornamental detailing such as laurels, wreaths and cartouches. From large-scale government buildings to neighborhood homes, you can still see many well maintained examples of this impressive architectural style.
1. Imperial Iris Bookends 2. Mary McDonald Josephine Brass Crystal Black Shade Table Lamp 3. Murray Feiss Bellini Collection Wall Sconce 4. Carving with Gold Paint Four Panel Screen Room Divider (Items no longer available.)
Art Nouveau was prominent in all major cities at the turn of the century, including Buenos Aires. Curving, asymmetrical lines, feminine figures and nature inspired motifs dominated this style, a rejection of the rigidity of the neoclassical aesthetic. There are some beautiful examples of art nouveau construction across the city. From designs imprinted into the facade of a building to the intricate ironwork, this immensely detailed architectural style remains beautifully displayed throughout Buenos Aires.
1. Metal 3-Bud Vase Holder 2. Flower Flute Double Necked Accent Lamp 3. Metropolitan Amber Murano Glass Wall Sconce 4. Momeni Nouveau Area Rug (Items no longer available.)
Art Deco was an extremely popular architectural style in Buenos Aires, as its world debut in France correlated with the construction boom in Buenos Aires. All the aesthetic signifiers of the art deco period are beautifully preserved in the architecture in Buenos Aires such as intricate geometric shapes, hard running lines and influences from archeological discoveries of Ancient Egyptian style and design. Can you believe that you can even see examples of Art Deco styling in ceiling fans with lights (see below).
1. Bronze Finish Fan Fire Screen (no longer available) 2. Period Arts Paris Bronze Ceiling Fan with Light Kit (no longer available) 3. Kathy Ireland Espresso Deco Trophy Floor Lamp 4. Set of Two Art Deco Lady Candleholders
All Images: Allison Rosenberg
So, you have viewed the vast array of pictures and hand painted wall art and selected the perfect piece. Now you need to know how-to hang the picture or wall art on the wall.
Ever wonder how the pros seem to hang pictures or wall art the very first time and without making the wall look like swiss cheese? Well, worry know longer. This video will show you how-to pictures or wall art like a pro.
To get started, gather your supplies. For this project you will need:
Picture or Wall Art Craft Paper (I have even used left over holiday paper)Scissors Writing Instrustment (Pen, Pencil) Ruler or Tape MeasurePainters Tape Hammer Hanging Supplies (Picture Hook, Nail)
Follow these easy steps:
A great way to test the placement of the picture or wall art before putting hammer to nail is by laying everything out on a table or on the floor.
Trace around the picture or wall art and mark the hanging points.
Then, tape the paper to the wall and hammer in the nail.
Remove the paper, and voila! Now you know how-to hang your favoite picture or wall art like a pro.
For more how-to ideas, tips and inspiration, visit the Lamps Plus YouTube channel.
I had the pleasure to tour a beautifully renovated, turn of the century apartment in the San Telmo area of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Owner Stephen Woods moved to Argentina from the UK almost ten years ago with a background in historical property renovation. He now lives in this gorgeous apartment with his girlfriend Eloisa and their daughter Katia. The renovations lasted approximately four months with meticulous planning ahead of time, including making silicone molds of the original rosette moulding detail and reproducing and installing them around the apartment. Stephen focused on maintaining the integrity of the apartment and honoring the era in which it was built, yet upgrading the space to be livable in this day and age.
The apartment is hidden at the back of a spacious, French-style Neoclassical building, built in 1904, in San Telmo, Buenos Aires' notorious antiques and art district. With the exception of the two back rooms, the apartment has impressively high ceilings, measuring a little over 13 feet in the hallway and 11.5 feet in the rooms. The sitting room and piano room make up the two common areas of the apartment. These spaces are decorated with the period of the apartment in mind, yet with a designer's eye as well. The doors and windows were all fitted with antique hardware and the antique-style radiators were installed to solve the problem of the lack of central heating. These two rooms are accessorized beautifully with antiques and artwork from varying periods of the 20th century that play off each other beautifully. Antique siphons are a cultural touch, as these are hugely popular across the flea markets in the city.
The layout of the apartment remains exactly as it was built, no walls were knocked out or added, however the functions of each room were changed to work best for their family. The original kitchen was located at the back of the apartment, along with the maid's quarters. They were quite small and not centrally located, so Stephen decided to transform them into his daughter’s bedroom and an in-home office. He took up the floorboards from the front bedroom and turned this space into the kitchen. Stephen wanted the kitchen to function in the modern world yet still tie-in with the period-style of the apartment. He found an antique carpenters table at a flea market and sized the stainless countertops to fit its dimensions. Well designed wall light fixtures and ceiling lights are also what defines the period design; the chandelier and sconces were also found at a local flea market.
The hallway features a large, stained glass window or "ventanal" as it is called in Argentina. The frame is original to the apartment, but Stephen found antique glass to set in the frame. Light blue is a very common color to be featured in stained glass windows in Argentina as a patriotic touch and the corner pieces of the ventanal are typically a different color to the boarder of the window. The window openings are characteristic of the original frame, with a hook and chain mechanism to hold the windows at an angle. A classic chandelier defines the hallway with high ceilings. The chandelier that hangs in the hallway is an antique, again found in a flea market in Buenos Aires, that Stephen had deconstructed from one chandelier with eight arms to two matching chandeliers of four arms. An extra large chandelier would have also looked fantastic with the tall ceilings. The mosaic flooring is characteristic of the period, but was laid during the renovation.
The closet off the bathroom was originally the maid’s "prep" area and was open. Stephen found 100-year old pine wood and had custom doors made to close off the space and create a storage closet and laundry room. Facing the closet is the original wall-mounted lighting outlet, but to accentuate the height of the space, Stephen added a hook to the ceiling and hung an antique chandelier. The bathroom is outfitted with antique fixtures found at a demolition warehouse in Argentina. The matte dark grey color of the wainscoting and fixtures was a unifying design decision. The radiators were made in that color and finish, so Stephen decided to use that color for select hard surfaces throughout the apartment.
The back part of the apartment consists of their daughter’s bedroom and Stephen's office. The marble staircase had to be removed and re-polished, possibly the most arduous process of the entire renovation, and the original pine stairs had to be stripped of their awkward shade of green paint. The plaster ceiling from both rooms was removed to show the original brick and oxidized beams, a very common ceiling treatment and look in Buenos Aires.
Stephen’s advice to anyone looking to restore a historic property is to not get caught up with making everything 100% historically accurate, but to have a coherence and unity throughout the property that speaks the language of the period. The attention to detail has lent itself to a beautifully restored, historic apartment. With another upcoming restoration project in the city, I can not wait to see what Stephen will create.
Ah Roma, *sigh.* The Eternal City is home to not only the Colosseum, Forum, Vatican, and Trevi Fountain, but also home to great shopping, food and design. Design inspiration from Rome will totally surprise you. You may think that a city steeped in such history would be home to over-the-top and fussy design. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of traditional interiors in Rome, but many more Romans want modern design within their ancient walls. Think of it this way... people with straight hair always want curly, people with curly hair always want straight. Make sense?
If you grew up in a crumbling albeit charming apartment, chances are that you would probably want all the mod cons if given the chance. That said, everything Italians do from a design standpoint looks divine - catch the Mother Church reference? As they say about Italy, and thankfully: style over substance. Luckily for us, we can gather inspiration and know that everything we do here in the States will probably look good, work and take less time than in Italy... the most bureaucratic country in the world.
Talk about a design influence. This Colosseum-inspired dining table could not get any more literal. The sleek dining room chairs pull out from under the tabletop. Oh the glory of Rome. Having such imposing dining room tables calls for very large chandeliers.
Yours truly with an American friend who lives in Rome. Here we are enjoying lunch near the Tiber. Of course the consumption of massive amounts of food is always required on a trip to Rome.
Speaking of food, Italian kitchens, when renovated, are amazing. Italians are on the forefront of cutting edge industrial design. Here is a perfect example. This uber modern kitchen is to die for. Everything in its place, sleek and yet still warm, like the Italian spirit. Can we discuss kitchen bar stools for a minute? A perfect place to perch for pasta.
Metallic Silver Scooper Adjustable Bar or Counter Stool (No longer available.)
Yes, I know, I aim to please. The kitchen bar stools you never thought you would find.
I know I look crazy, but that is what serious jet lag will do. I do have a point to this picture of me in my hotel room overlooking the Pantheon. Rome is filled with ancient buildings, columns and porticos. There is a way to celebrate this history yet be true to modern design.
Here is what I mean. I’m crazy for this cool wallpaper that is clearly made from a photograph of classical architecture. You can always check online to see if you can get images you have taken on holiday blown up to mount either on a canvas or on a wall. Also, great lighting fixtures goes without saying.
Ouch. Ancient Roman seating, no thanks. Notice how she needed some comfort in the form of an ancient pillow?
This is what I’m talking about. This room is stunning. I love the old beams and pure modern interiors. The curved dining room chairs are form fitting and are the perfect counterpoint to the structure. I need that inset uplighting immediately.
There are not enough scrubbing bubbles in the world to get this ancient bath ready for my arrival. Although, historically it’s major.
Leave it to the Italians to turn this organic, almost catacomb space into the coolest bathroom, ever. The fluid space is very sensual. I like how the indoor wall lights add the perfect glow. Mamma Mia, I need a dose of Rome, pronto!
Images: Interior Design Pro, idesignarch, Tommaso Ziffer, Art-n-Sewl
Modern monochromatic rooms don’t need to be cold and sterile. I think this decorative play between an older room and modern furnishings is beautiful. One way this type of room stays comfortable is that it is filled with soft furnishings and curved lines. Avoiding sharp corners and edges makes a room soothing and feminine. The color scheme makes it more masculine and zen-like. While we can help you achieve a similar look, naturally, it’s your job to find the right room!
This is a similar room, with some variation. The room has a much more ornate ceiling which makes the contrast between the room and furnishings even more noticeable. One way you can “cheat” this look would be to have ornate and very large chandeliers in lieu of an ornate ceiling.
Both rooms use a large scale chrome floor lamp. Having chrome lighting offsets the plush furnishings and flooring. A nice contrast, don’t you think? Also, it mimics the lines of the curved seating.
Both rooms also have a mid-century influenced, white round tables. Whether they are dining or side tables, they reinforce the overall design.
This white swivel chair envelopes you like a space-age wing back chair. The timeless Mid-Century design is very “of the moment.”
This is a more basic white slipper chair. It’s not as stylized as the swivel chair above, but does replicate and is reminiscent of the room above.
A wonderful and inexpensive way to fill a space along these monochromatic rooms is through the use and placement of small round tables and ottomans.
There are ways in which you can infuse modern white elements in your home assuming you don’t want to commit to an entire room like the one above. What about white kitchen bar stools?
Or, how about updating your ceiling with modern white ceiling fans with lights?
Regardless of how you go about doing it, the modern white room can still be a place of rest and relaxation.
Steve Jones of bettershelter is a well known house flipper in Los Angeles. He finds a house that is a "hot mess" (as he calls it) and completely rehabs the home while staying on a tight budget. His method for investing in homes is simple - buy it for a good price, renovate it on a budget, and sell it for a reasonable price. As long as he can keep the cost down on all levels of the project, everyone wins (his design team and the future buyer).
Steve has developed a bettershelter look over the years and many potential buyers stalk his properties that most often end up in a bidding war. Keep reading for inside tips from the designer himself...
LAMPS PLUS: How would you define your style in 3 words?
STEVE JONES: Modern Vintage Surf
LAMPS PLUS: You get a lot of flack for being a house flipper in a down market. However, your renovation and design expertise actually helps the local community.
STEVE JONES: We buy many homes that would not qualify for a typical home mortgage because they are in such terrible shape. Our homes improve communities and neighborhoods and nearby home prices. Who would not want that? We try to preserve the authenticity and integrity of the homes that we renovate; we strive to fit in rather than stand out. McMansions these are not!
LAMPS PLUS: Many of your homes utilize wall light fixtures and chandeliers versus recessed lights as the primary light source. Why do you prefer to use a more focused light versus overall lighting?
STEVE JONES: I like indirect lighting as opposed to recessed can lights; the light is much more flattering on a person's face. I also like dimmers for the same reason.
LAMPS PLUS: You have a fantastic outdoor area for your own home. What are 3 basic tips for outdoor lighting?
STEVE JONES: I use old school colored bulbs - I prefer blue and green bulbs. I like to project the light up through the trees and branches; the effect is magical. I use solar light stakes for my pathways; they are easy and effective.
LAMPS PLUS: What is on your current Lamps Plus wish list?
Crystorama Astro Bronze Ceiling Light Fixture (left), Hudson Valley Petersburg Nickel Semi-Flush Ceiling Mount (right)
Page after page of wedding blogs and magazines across the globe feature gorgeous weddings with shabby chic touches, like pendant banners, tiny pastel accessories and paper-cut flowers. However, when it comes to our homes and businesses, currently we are crushing on a Mid-Century look a'la Mad Men. In Buenos Aires, however, the shabby chic, DIY look has never been hotter, with no shortage of cafes, restaurants and clothing and decor stores designed in this style. Below is a guide in how to achieve this eclectic look.
The key element of this look is mixing together contemporary home decor and vintage pieces in an "elegantly disheveled" way. None of the spaces appear cluttered, but if you take a closer look there are things everywhere. A tip to achieve this look is to make sure that everything is extremely organized. While there are a lot of accessories, as you can see, they are all placed with precision and spaced evenly.
Another key element of this look is scouring flea markets for the best vintage "everything" you can find. Picture frames, plates, cutlery, artwork and especially furniture can all be found with a good amount of time and effort spent at the flea market - or online thanks to sites like eBay. If the things you find have an endearing amount of wear, this only adds to the charm of the look. If you find a great piece that is a bit too tattered, remember that you can always repaint or reupholster anything as long as the bones of the piece are in good condition.
Lighting fixtures are often rustic and charming and give off a lot of light. There are no dark corners or mood lighting involved with achieving this look. Here you see vintage baskets that have been painted and strung upside down: instant chandeliers. Simple globe pendants offer a huge amount of light and don't detract from the details and accessories. Large windows let in a lot of natural light, which is important to the organic, rustic style.
Color is very important in achieving this look as well; those who are intimidated by color need not apply. Bright, bold primaries and pastels dominate, usually with a crisp white base. Feel free to mix as many colors as your heart desires, as you can see the more color, the more successful the look. Just make sure that you are within the same color temperature, don't use a maroon when a violet will serve better.
Even if you are not a DIY maven, you can easily find DIY-style accessories to complete your look. Handwritten notes for freshly baked pastries can easily be translated to the home; adding handwritten labels to storage jars in the kitchen, or cheeky quotes as wall art achieve this look. Using chalkboards and writing out notes is another way to personalize the look. Take an old frame, spray the glass with black matte spray paint and, voila, you have a repurposed chalkboard that you can use for reminders, shopping lists, to-dos and much more.
Don't be afraid to infuse this style into your life. It is very home friendly as the major characteristics of the look are rustic comfort and vintage charm, something that almost everyone can relate to on some level. And if all else fails, find some attractive Latin men and put them in vintage, eclectic aprons and you're good to go!
I was talking to interior designer, Karen Vidal of Design Vidal, a few weeks back about remodeling ideas for a historical craftsman home. She is an expert at restoring historical homes and has many years experience working in design and construction. Her latest project is a charming craftsman house in Los Feliz (Los Angeles), California, that needs a handful of updates to bring it back to its original glory.
Over the next few months, we are going to document the progression of the remodel and Karen is going to be offering remodel and design tips for specific rooms in the home. Today we are sharing the before pictures for the first post in the Renovation Ideas series with Design Vidal.
LAMPS PLUS: You have designed quite a few historical and Craftsman homes in Los Angeles, but really fell in love with this Los Feliz Craftsman. What makes this home so unique and special?
KAREN VIDAL: I think I fall in love with all the homes I design! The more I see the potential - that it's a place that I can truly transform - the better. This project is that kind of project; it feels like a home from back east with funny angles, the wide front porch, and the upstairs sleeping porch. It just sucks you in with its charm.
LAMPS PLUS: What is your vision for the design of the home?
KAREN VIDAL: I see it as a family home with a farmhouse vibe. I am opening the kitchen up to the dining room and creating a counter between the two spaces so when someone is cooking they are not cut off from everything else that is happening. That's a big difference from how it was when we started.
The other radical re-do is the upstairs bathroom; I am still in the same footprint, but I have moved everything around. We built a large separate shower and am putting in a double sink. It's the only bathroom for the 3 bedrooms upstairs, so it really has to work!
Both spaces will showcase lovely tile with quite a bit of added detail - deco liners, quarter round trim - details that will give it a vintage vibe and of course amazing bathroom and kitchen lighting fixtures.
Meanwhile, in terms of function everything will be totally updated - all new plumbing valves and fixtures, lighting with lots of separate switching and dimmers, lots of outlets - so it's the best of vintage charm blended with modern functionality.
LAMPS PLUS: When remodeling Craftsman style homes, what special considerations do you make for this particular architectural style?
KAREN VIDAL: The finish choices are key: color, tile material, light fixtures, the style of moulding around doors and windows. These are the elements that are really going to establish the "Craftsman" look.
LAMPS PLUS: What is the general rule of thumb for knowing when building permits are required during a remodel?
KAREN VIDAL: Generally, in Los Angeles, you need a permit for everything that isn't just cosmetic. They have some general "remodel" permit designations if you are designing a kitchen or bathroom and only changing out finishes. More extensive work requires drawings to be submitted and reviewed in order to get the permit. The City of Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety (LADBS) website has all the information on permits. If you live outside Los Angeles, check with your local city agency regarding permits.
LAMPS PLUS: Developing a budget for a complete home remodel can seem very overwhelming. How do you approach the budgeting process?
KAREN VIDAL: Experience! We have done this so much we have it down, but there was a huge learning curve. Now we have a budget form that we have developed and we keep a running job actual so we know where we are at all times.
LAMPS PLUS: What is your advice for hiring and working with contractors?
KAREN VIDAL: Make sure you go and see finished jobs, talk to previous clients, check out their license online with the Contractor's Board, make sure you can communicate easily and share a vision - you will be working together for some time and it's always easier to work with someone you like.
Also, consider working with a designer! We are not a luxury, but a necessity! I know that I save my clients time and money by knowing what they need to provide the contractor and when. I also establish the look of the job and make sure everything is conforming during the renovation. I am able to purchase materials at a discounted price. I talk to the contractor about any issues that arise - aesthetic or budgetary.
LAMPS PLUS: Are all contractors required to have a license for their particular trade? If not, what types of construction professionals must have a license to perform their trade?
KAREN VIDAL: General contractors have a General license, bond and worker's comp. Depending on the general contractor, he may also work with subcontractors who have their own license for their trade - commonly plumbers and electricians. But the general contractor is ultimately responsible for the work of everyone on the job.
LAMPS PLUS: What is the next step in the renovation process?
KAREN VIDAL: Things will start to close up. I will finish all of my rough work, framing electrical, plumbing, and start to put up drywall. We will begin prepping the bathroom for the tile, and the cabinets will start getting fabricated.
Thanks Karen! Stay tuned for tips on remodeling the bathroom next and also be sure to check out her prior interview, Tips for Remodeling and Restoring Historical Homes with Design Vidal.
I have a long list of design blogs that I read everyday that offer tips and inspiration for designing your home. I am always curious to get an inside look into the homes of design bloggers. Do they incorporate their own design advice, what is their style, and how do they live?
Some bloggers use their blog as a creative outlet, but have other careers while others make a career out of blogging. So... don't be shocked if you see a huge home owned by a blogger (and run home to start your own blog) because their home may be financed by another career or spouce.
The house featured above is the home of Lisa Borgnes from A Bloomsbury Life blog. Check out this stunning staircase topped off with a beautiful chandelier and cherry blossom wallpaper. I am blown away!
Who couldn't work from home with an office like this! Heather Taylor co-owns an art gallery and blogs about her daily inspirations on LA in Bloom.
I love it when a loft feels like a home - comfortable and warm! Natalie and her husband live in a loft in Downtown Los Angeles. She currently works for a fashion company in licensing, but she can't ignore her passion for interiors. Her blog, Mint Loves Social Club, documents everything from florant arrangements, beautiful events (they love to throw huge themed parties at their loft) to home inspiration and decor.
Christian May is the interior designer behind the design blog maison21. If you missed your favorite design event, there is a good chance Christian covered it on his blog (he is very social when it comes to industry events). Being an interior designer, his blog is heavily focused on interior decor (which is why I love his blog). Christian's own home definitely reflects his fun and playful vibe on maison21. Case in point, check out the backs on his contemporary dining room chairs! I also love how the large chandelier really commands the space.
Hope you enjoyed the sneak peak inside the homes of a few of my favorite design bloggers!
Images: Christian May