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.

  • Tips for Designer Kitchens on a Budget

    Designer Kitchen

    No matter what, family and guests always seem to gather in the kitchen. So make the most of the “heart” of your home with these tips for designer kitchens…on any budget. I designed this state-of-the-art space for a hip, young Prince. But whatever your resources may be, my two biggest tips for designer kitchens are always to have fun and personalize it. If you simply love looking at your kitchen, you’ll find it much easier to deal with its so-called flaws!

      Before Kitchen

    Problem 1: A tiny space. Jessica Alba hired me to renovate her parents’ impossibly tiny kitchen as a surprise gift for them.  I immediately saw the need to knock down a major wall and fortunately, got the Alba’s on board.

    After Kitchen 

    The end result was a functional space with a wonderful nook for the Alba family to hang out with their beloved dogs and friends. To maximize square footage, I love to open up walls separating the kitchen from the dining room or other areas of your home, but if you don’t have the luxury (or budget) to do something this drastic, fear not. 

    Kitchen Cart

    A kitchen cart is the perfect solution for storing pots and pans, linens, wine, anything you can think of!  The top can function as extra counter and prep space in lieu of an island.  Get one with wheels and you can move it around your kitchen as needed and roll it out for a fun way to serve cocktails or dinner to guests.

    Counter Stool

    Bar and counter stools are always cool and can make you feel like you have a new look for not much money.  I love upholstering stools in chocolate brown pleather—they look really elegant and they’ll survive red wine spills.  Bar and counter stools without backs are especially easy to slide beneath a counter.  Make the most of your tiny space by only pulling them out as needed for seating. 

    Blue Area Rug

    Problem 2: An awful floor.  One of my biggest tips for designer kitchens is installing fresh, clean flooring.  I love using sustainable materials like bamboo from Bamboo Flooring Hawaii since it’s easy to maintain and good for the environment.  If you don’t have the budget to rip out that outdated linoleum, area rugs in durable fabrics are a great alternative.  Kitchens don’t have to be all brown and steel, so add your favorite colors.  Blues and greens look great and also hide dirt better than lighter shades.

    Glass Pendant

    Problem 3: A dark and dreary space.  Group fabulous pendant lights next to each other (try 3-6 in a row) to brighten things.  I love mixing finishes like aluminum and glass.  Or try installing these fun rope lights beneath your counters; they’ll not only add warmth and brightness, they’ll also revamp your entire look for not too much dough.  You can conceal rope lights under the molding of most cabinets and they look especially great if you have a kitchen bar area.

    Wall Art

    Problem 4: A generic kitchen.  It’s essential to add your personality to every room in your home, especially your kitchen. No matter what the size or style of your kitchen is, there’s probably at least one bare wall to jazz up with funky artwork and accessories.  So whether you have the tiniest of kitchens or a vast culinary haven, accept your space and make it your own. 

    Images courtesy of Kari Whitman Interiors.

     

  • Adirondack Style Living

     Countryside

    I just took a trip to upstate New York to enjoy some Adirondack style living for a few days. For good measure I also did a quick trip to the Catskills to visit an old friend and check out that classic summer getaway for New Yorkers. Thankfully I got out just before Irene pounded the entire east coast. As summer begins to wind down I wanted to get a sense of how I could incorporate some of the classic summer camp designs at home. When I use the word camp, I don’t mean the literal term, rather the summer homes or community of homes people visit for the summer season. 

    Green Wood Adirondack Chair

    Adirondack style is synonymous with the classic All-American Adirondack chair. The wide, comfortable design looks amazing on a sweeping lawn and a welcome sight after a mean game of croquet!  Upstate New York is awash in rolling hills covered with trees, jagged rock and a refreshing waterfall every now and again. As a result so much of what you see in design is natural. Rustic wood homes sport craggy porches and invite nature indoors as well. I did, however, notice two design styles at play.  The first is the classic wood and flannel approach, and second, a classic New England, almost Early American style.

    Birch Bark Natural Linen Table Lamp

    To echo the more natural approach to Adirondack style, try small touches such as this bark covered lamp. It’s warm, organic in style and captures the essence of a wooded retreat. It can work beautifully in a great room, boys bedroom or guest room. It’s neutral enough to work in most rooms with the exception of a formal space.

    House Front Hall

    As I mentioned, the second style I encountered was more classic New England style. I loved it!  It’s like have a touch of rustic sophistication in the woods. My friend’s camp was founded in the late 19th century and oozes worn luxury. I was greeted by a charming, solid door with fabulous hardware worn to a rich patina.  Plus, who can resist the old paneled walls.

    Living Room

    The living room sports a massive stone fireplace. Every room upstate must have them. Not only does it reflect the natural surroundings but keeps you warm on cold nights. I’m mad for the shiny, burnt red rattan chairs that offer some uptown glam even though you are hours from the city.

    Red Finish Solid Wood Porch Rocker

    I love this cheerful red rocker which bridges the gap of town and country. It’s country in feel but is still chic for city folk.  My trip may be over and while many of the trees that I looked at lovingly may now have missing branches or have toppled altogether, the inspiration will last well into the fall.  

     

  • TV Host, Designer & Author Christopher Lowell Shares His Interior Motives and More

    TV host Christopher Lowell Photo

    Christopher Lowell Logo Image

    Emmy Award-winning host and best selling author, Christopher Lowell's mix of practical advice and infectious enthusiasm has made him one of America's most recognized and trusted authorities in the home improvement category. Dubbed the Doctor of Design by U.S News & World Report, Christopher Lowell believes that decorating is a form of empowerment therapy and that his mantra, "You Can Do It" is a way of life. The success of his ever growing multi-media company proves that Christopher Lowell has made a loyal connection to how America wants to live now and in the future.

    Recently, I had the opportunity to ask Christopher a few questions.  This is what transpired.

    What or who has most influenced your own design aesthetic?
    First it was my years in the American theater as a set, lighting and costume designer. It’s a far more high-pressured job then any interior designer has to go through. Then it was what I learned running a successful advertising agency, telling mini-stories in 30 to 60 second commercials. But when we launched our first TV series (Interior Motives with Christopher Lowell- just a few miles away from Lamps Plus' corporate offices) and were able to really connect with millions of viewers who shared their stories with us everyday, that was amazing.

    They taught us ‘who’ they ‘were’ and the lifestyle challenges they faced everyday. It affirmed to us the transformation quality of personal creativity and the fact that when the physical interior changes (our homes) the mental interior (our heads) can change too. Powerful stuff. So it’s really the viewer that motivates us to solve their problems, uncover their hidden creativity and get them to use the home as their personal design incubators to define who they are TODAY.

    So it’s taught me to never indulge my artistic whims, but to work hard to put out there (through product and education) things that today’s households need in the most attractive way possible.