Category Archives: LIGHTING


PROBLEM: How do you fit a baby grand piano, two accent chairs, a side table, a floor lamp, an area rug, and accessories all in a 12 X 14 room? I don’t know yet, but I’m gonna figure it out.

The client wants the room to be elegant, but simple, with clean lines. There’s not a lot of space to work with, in fact the room really only has two walls. The third wall is mostly windows and the fourth ‘wall’ is actually the archway to enter the room. Making things even more difficult is the fact that there will be a baby grand piano occupying most of the 168 sq feet.

SOLUTION: So what does one do when space is this limited? The answer is scale down. People have a tendency today to buy oversized furniture far too often. Part of the problem is that when we shop for furniture we usually see it in a giant store the size of a warehouse. Only when the pieces are delivered to our 12 X 14 rooms do we realize our eyes were bigger than our floor plans! We end up with giant sofas and enormous coffee tables that make it so we can’t even walk into the room anymore. So the plan with this room will be to make sure the items we place in it are the right size. Take a look at the sketch below which illustrates what sort of furniture and decor we should be aiming for as a guide. Also, as a bonus all the items you see (except for the Steinway piano and Benjamin Moore paint) are available from One stop shopping, you can’t beat that!


Here’s what’s what:

A. Bottoms up! We might as well start with the foundation. There will be hardwood flooring in this room which is a big plus for any room to start with. However, we need to give the room a little softening up, and one of the best ways to do that is with this gold Metropolis area rug. The rug isn’t meant to occupy the whole room, but rather to go under the seating area we are creating. It has a timeless Moroccan pattern and is a steal at $150.

B. The baby grand! Pianos can sometimes be a nightmare to work around, especially if you find yourself having to move it one too many times. On the flip side, they do provide a sense of classicism to a home as well as fill it with wonderful sounds, hopefully. If nothing else pianos can act as big shelves to display your curios!

C. Paint in the Butt. One of the hardest things to figure out in any room is what color to paint the walls. The client said she wanted a white with slate gray scheme. My suggestion is this palette from Benjamin Moore. The lighter gray called silver spring has just enough of that hint of slate blue but still keeps a very neutral tone. Match that with the much lighter steam color and you have a great base to start building your room.

D. Light it up! This Nova Lighting tripod floor lamp will make a great addition to the corner slightly behind the seating area. It should provide enough light for reading or just sitting back and listening to the music. It’s a bit pricier than I would like at $284, but still within reach. You might be able to find a cheaper version that looks very similar, so do your research before you buy.

E and F. Travel in pairs. Here are a couple of somewhat matching black vases that can be added to the room, be it on the side table, or perhaps on a corner shelf. The taller Tung Chi vase is 14″ tall while the shorter Jar is 12″ tall. Both cost $63 each.

G. Have a seat. These accent chairs are a great size for a smaller more crowded space. The Safavieh Noho Lounge Chair is about 30″ high X 30″ wide and 25″ deep and costs only $228 each. Buy two of them to create a nice seating area while saving on space AND money! These chairs have very simple lines. The fact that they are armless will help give the room a sense of having even more space. The white piping and buttons are a great touch that adds some contrast the the gray fabric.

H. Table time. I really like this gold table. Gold is in again so don’t be afraid to use it. This great little side table is also made by Safavieh and sells for only $130. It’s about 20″ high X 17″ wide and 12″ deep. This is a perfect size for a small vase, a cup of coffee, or just a place to rest your book. The top is actually mirrored so it will reflect a lot of light brightening up the room even more. The elegant gold color of the table against the gray side chairs and wall will compliment each other nicely. The lines in this table are as clean and sharp as they come. The straight verticals and horizontals will be a good contrast to the curved line of the side chairs.

I. Soften with Color. While I think the chairs may be great by themselves, you may find that they need a little more cushion. My suggestion is to add a pop of color with this set of two pillows made by Key Lipstick which sell for $70. The rich, deep, red color add a bit of luxury and elegance to the room, while the gold embroidery helps pick up the warmth from the rug and side table.


The dining room renovation is still in the planning stage, but I just picked up this great chandelier from Joss & Main for $157, actually a bit more once you add tax and shipping!


It is a 10-light version that measures 14″ X 17″, perfect for a small room like mine. They also have a larger 12 light version for $220 and a smaller 6 light version for $330. I am not sure why the smallest version is the most expensive though? I’ll keep you posted when it arrives and finally gets hung up.

If you REALLY like the sputnik style they also have a floor lamp ($253), desk lamp ($167), and wall sconce ($54) available as well. But to me, the chandelier is really where it’s at!


If you’re interested in these deals you better act quick, the sale ends in about 22 hours!

I Pity the Foo!


I got a great deal this past weekend on a pair of Jonathan Adler Foo Dog lamps from the JC Penny home store. The website has them on sale right now for $45 each, but in the store they were marked as $37 each. And as a bonus they left the light bulbs in them!!!

These lamps are perfect for your bedside (which is where I will be using them) or on a sofa table, buffet cabinet, end tables, well pretty much anywhere. And, if you’re really in to Buddhism you should definitely buy a pair of them and not just one lamp. Foo dogs are always found in pairs in the Buddhist faith. Foo dogs (also spelled Fu) are the guardians of Buddhist temples and Chinese palaces. In fact, Foo/Fu means Buddha. They were originally made to act as lions would, but since lions are not native to China, they were modeled after native dogs like the Chow Chow. Hence their somewhat gargoyle-ian features.


Today of course, at least in Western culture, the Foo/Fu dogs are typically used as pieces of decor, which brings us back to these Adler lamps. They are just the right size for bedside lamps at about 22″ high. The shade is just ok, as are most shades that come with lamps. I will think about upgrading it to a heavier quality black shade. But all in all it, and especially for the price, the quality is very good.


Don’t think of these lamps, or Foo dogs in general, as just Asian decor. The Adler lamp is a very stylized and modern looking Fu dog, which really helps bring it into the Western design sense. In fact, many of the Foo dogs you see in the stores and shops today are of this modern style. They do not have the same ancient feel as the ones you would see in a museum or temple, but they will add just enough of that far east feeling to make your room seem unique!


Dining Room Do’s and Doo-doo’s!!!

Take a look at the dining room shot below. There’s a lot of dining room doo-doo going on here!


Where to start? The dark wood hutch and buffet cabinet and dark wood chairs and table (hidden under an oddly placed flower print table-cloth) make this room feel claustrophobic, or at least it makes me feel claustrophobic when IN this room. The burgundy/merlot colored curtains block out all the light while the frosted glass chandelier blares in your face. The two-tone taupe (say that real fast five times) colored walls only help to mute out the light even more.

The two bright spots in this room are the hard-wood floor and the chair rail molding along the bottom half of the walls. The wood flooring provides a nice warm color to the room while the white molding at least gives us SOME contrast.

Sadly, this is my dining room. All these mistakes took some time to coordinate. An inherited china cabinet and dining set mixed in with a chandelier that was in this home before we moved in, combined with curtains that seemed like a good idea at the time and a table cloth that looked great in the store, all came together to make this room look like doo-doo! But not for long!

Here’s a sketch of a few ideas I have so far. Obviously not all these things will be making the final cut, but it’s a start. I like to use these kind of sketches as a frame work for the design of a room. I like the two porcelain heads on the wall, but if I can’t find them, I can find something similar in size and shape which will work just as well, and the same for everything else.


The most obvious change is the brightness in the room. It doesn’t get a great deal of sunlight, but you can create light using small amounts of contrast. A dark paint color on the bottom half against a brighter creamy color on the top half suddenly opens this space right up. I’ve already wrote about the buffet cabinet in a previous post (To Display or Buffet…) so let’s talk about the chandelier.


This would probably be considered a Sputnik style chandelier, popular in the 60’s when the whole space craze took flight (cough-cough). They have since become a part of the mid-centruy modern movement and you find them in all different sizes and shapes. Usually they are fairly round and have several extensions coming out from the center like a star, or satellite, or UFO! They range in size from 18″ or so up to several feet for the big $$$ buyer.

The model above is called the Zuo 50028 Pulsar and I found it on Quill for $249. Many other websites cary this same chandelier so shop around for the best price. Amazon carries it, through a 3rd party seller, for $75 more. Even Staples carries this light, but they’re out of stock right now. If you don’t like this particular chandelier but like the Sputnik style there are a lot of options out there, and many of them are very affordable.

Reading Light District

What ever happened to reading lights above beds? They were a great little invention that enabled us to read in bed, and not have to get up or reach across your mate to turn the light off. I suppose there’s no real need for bedside reading lights anymore because most people don’t read in bed. Hell, most people don’t read at all, and if we do it’s on an iPad or kindle or nook or whatever your device is called and it gives off its own light.

But when I walked into my hotel room in DC to tonight I saw that there were 2 reading lights just above the bed and I thought it was a nice touch. Take a look for yourself below.

Adding Light with Dark


I’ve seen this lamp a lot recently and I really like it! It’s has a distinctly modern feel in it’s acrylic build, but maintains a classical style with it’s baroque-esque shape. In other words, it can fit into any interior style no matter what.

The price range is all over the place from $89 to $200 plus! A quick search on Google and you’ll see tons of places to purchase it from, including some you really wouldn’t think of! I found this one at Home Depot for $96. I usually don’t like the lighting choices at the large box stores, at least not form what I see IN the store, but online is a different story. They have many more options that the physical store just can’t carry I guess.

The lamp comes in a few different colors but black is my favorite. There is also a translucent black version that looks really cool! It has just enough transparency to make it some how feel completely different from the solid black one.


From Hotel to Home

Have you ever stayed in an amazing hotel room and wanted to take a piece of it home with you? This past June I stayed in an crazy awesome room at Wynn Las Vegas. I say room but it was really a suite, in fact it was REALLY a house as it was 1800 sqft! The entire hotel property is magnificently designed and decorated from top to bottom, it is truly amazing, but that’s a post for another time. Now to the actual room decor itself; If I had millions of dollars I would just purchase everything from the Wynn catalog that was placed in my room, as everything IN my room was also sold by Wynn. But, at prices like $500 for a washcloth (well maybe not $500) who can afford to do that? What I can afford to do though is find similar decor at much cheaper prices. And that’s what this post is about.

Take a look at the two pictures of my suite below. What I will ‘bring’ home are the silver spheres and the tall candle sticks they sit on, as well as the glass table lamps. I’ve circled them in red on the photos below so it’s easier to see.


So here’s what I was able to find for MUCH MUCH MUCH cheaper than the catalog price at Wynn. Granted, it may not be the same brand or quality, but all things considered it’s a pretty good match for the price.

Let’s start with those 2 glass lamps on the end tables. I’m not usually a fan of glass lamps, for some reason they always look cheap to me. But, in a room that has so much going on they are just what’s needed to rest your eye.

I found this pair on the HOME DECORATORS COLLECTION website for $170 with free shipping.


Each lamp is 28″ X 14″ and unlike most of the other options I found, this is sold in pairs. Many people like their rooms to have symmetry and pairing things that are the same always helps balance that. And it comes with the shade, which is good and bad. It’s good in a sense that the lamps are ready to use once you screw in a lightbulb and plug it in. It’s bad in a sense that often times the stock shades that come with many lamps are not the greatest quality or style. But that’s something that you can always change later.

Now let’s look at those silver spheres. When I first saw them I wasn’t sure I liked them. But damn if they didn’t grow on me and add a bit of coolness to the room. You can find silver spheres (balls really) almost anywhere, from garden stores to high end decorators showrooms. I choose to go slightly different with this option from ZGallerie and at just $10 each these Nest Spheres are a great little option.


They still have the shine and sparkle of silver and chrome, yet they are not as heavy and bulky as a solid silver ball would be. I would not be as afraid of these falling on the floor and denting or scratching when they land as I would the solid heavier spheres.

So now that we have our silver sphere ball shape thingy we just need something to place it on. Here’s two options for you to check out.

This first choice is at PierOne starting at about $11 and going up to $16 for the tallest one. These have a nice white-washed finish, very similar to those at Wynn in color and shape, but not quite as tall. Let’s face it, most of us don’t have 12 foot ceilings, sometimes a bit shorter is better. The tricky part about finding the right ‘holder/candlestick’ is making sure your sphere will sit in it properly. Some spheres are not actually round all the way . . . around. They have a small flat spot somewhere so they don’t roll away. But, that isn’t true with all of them so be careful what sphere you pair with what holders.


I also found this equally affordable option at Ikea and it comes in 3 different sizes. The tallest one pictured below is $14.99 and the prices go down from there.


Think about getting a few and having them at different heights just like the picture of the Wynn room above. Now the downside to Ikea is that you actually have to go to the store to buy anything, no online shopping :-(. But, I’m sure if you look around your area you can find a similar option at just as good of a price.

So, have you ever been on vacation and wanted to take a piece of it home with you? Well I say do it…sort of!

Get the Modern Family look!

Following up on my last post I said that I would be picking a few highlights from various ‘famous’ living rooms and showing you how to get a similar look for your home. I decided to start with Modern Family as most people would like their rooms to look more like this than The Golden Girls, presumably.

Take a look at the image below so we can know what we’re aiming for.

Modern Family

Modern Family

I’ll start with the paint, the gray blue slate color of the walls we see in the entry way above in particular. This is a great color for someone that is sick of white and beige but not ready for reds and bright greens. There is just enough blue to actually make it colorful, but also enough gray to keep it somewhat neutral.

While it is tempting to skimp out and buy the cheap paint, don’t! Trust me, more often than not you really do get what you pay for. I’ve painted a lot of rooms in the various places I’ve lived, and some I haven’t lived in, and the one thing I have been able to take from that is don’t buy the cheap paint! Drips, runs, spills, watery, pealing, are just a few words that come to mind when you skimp out on the paint.

My favorite paint is Benjamin Moore. It is quite pricey but goes on much thicker and covers more surface area than the cheaper brands, so in the end the price evens out a bit. A quick search on the Benjamin Moore website and a similar ‘Modern Family’ palette is found called Nimbus Gray. It’s almost a perfect match all around!

Benjamin Moore Sample

If you are afraid of adding this dark of a color to your wall, especially in smaller spaces, remember you don’t have to paint the whole room the same color. Try painting the main wall the dark color, an accent wall essentially, and then the two side walls in a lighter shade of that color. Or, in the pale yellow as shown above. Paint companies actually do a pretty good job at matching complementary colors for us, so we might as well use that tool, hell it’s free.

Now let’s take a look at their couch. There’s nothing extraordinary about the sofa, pretty standard as far as shape and size goes. The color is sort of a cross between pale yellow and light camel. So what can we find that’s similar AND affordable for our budget? Take a look at this choice below from JC Penney’s home store called the Friday Twill ($955 on sale).


This mock slipcovered sofa is a great deal at just $955 right now! This is that classically comfortable sofa that you can just plop right down on and read a book, watch TV, or just snooze away the afternoon. And coming in under $1000 for a new quality sofa is pretty scarce these days.

Now how about some pillow talk? Pillows are one of the best ways to add color and texture to any room. When I say this I don’t mean you should add 47 colorful pillows to your sofa and chairs and leave the rest of the room blank. I simply mean a few well placed and well patterned pillows can bring the whole room back together. *NOTE: Never add 47 pillows to anything unless you are a sheik of some sort.

Sticking with the Modern Family decor as pictured above, let’s take a look at this pillow from Pier One Imports called the Scatter Daisy Stripe Pillow ($15).


This brightly colored pillow is going to make your living room pop in an unexpected way. Most people would think that a pillow this bright would overshadow the rest of the room, but that’s not true. When you introduce an accessory that includes some of the colors already existing in the room it actually helps make those other things pop as well. Your eye ties the reds together, the yellows together, the blues together and so on making everything work as one.

While these pillows are made to be used outdoors, that doesn’t mean they cannot be indoor pillows as well. In fact, what that means to me is that these pillows are going to be remarkably stain resistant and durable, which is a very good things in a living room! And for $15 you can’t beat the price so buy a few.

And finally, let’s shed some light on the whole situation with this mustard yellow table lamp from called the Distressed Honey Mustard Handle Table Lamp (there’s a mouthful) for $107.


This lamp has a unique shape that will add some character to your room without becoming the centerpiece. One thing to think about with ALL lamps is the shade. Just because a shade may come with a certain lamp you buy, that doesn’t mean that’s the shade that HAS to go with it. In this case a slightly lighter shade, or conversely a much darker or even black shade, may work much better for you.

So those are my four quick elements to getting the Modern Family look. What are yours?