She saw her lamp in a movie

March 1, 2013 

Lisa Stewart

Lisa Stewart Design,


919-275-2212 or

10 words that describe your design philosophy: Edit, edit, edit! When I walk into peoples’ homes, I want it to tell a story about their lives, where they came from and where they dream of going.

Best design transition from winter to spring: Decorative pillows and throws are a great way to update with the seasons. Keep it simple. This way you can quickly make changes each season. Make sure you have enough easily accessible storage before you buy.

Favorite way to dress a mantel: To balance the attention commanded by a fireplace, place one large hanging piece of artwork above it. Hanging unusual things like textiles, rugs and a collection of like items above fireplaces can be very interesting, too. Use a couple tall candlesticks or vases on each side of the mantel to draw your eye up to the artwork. Avoid filling the mantel itself with many small things.

Favorite design blog: is a wonderful place for ideas and resources.

Fun design twist for a little boy’s bedroom: What’s more fun for a little boy than capturing all his stuffed animals in a cargo net and hanging it from the ceiling? My son, now 30, still talks about his “rain forest” room. We also used a beautiful “grown-up” tropical fabric for bedding. As he grew, the neutral walls and curtains allowed him to easily change the bedding along with his interests. As for the captured and hanging animals, eventually they were freed and found new homes when he donated them to an orphanage.

Money’s no limit but you can only buy one thing for your home. What is it and why? It is hard to put a dollar figure on inspiration, creativity and the feeling of something that is handmade with fine workmanship. That is why I splurge on artisan pieces, original artwork and fine hand-knotted one-of-a-kind carpets when I can. I never worry about overdoing it because they’re pricey. But they are worth it because they inspire me daily.

Best decor bargain you’ve ever scored: The lamp in my living room I picked up free. It was a leftover, discarded from an auction for antique dealers. Does that make me a bottom feeder? I guess so. But later I saw the same lamp in the movie “Charlie Wilson’s War” with Julia Roberts. Look for it in her bedroom. Score!

Your hardware store must-have: I do not use any tools, so my “must have” is a handy man! I’m simply not equipped to handle tools, large or small safely. Rather than endangering myself or risking ruining what I’m working on I have learned just to ask for help when I need it.

Biggest design no-no: Do not hang onto things you don’t like and associate with bad memories. Do not save broken things and items you won’t use. Don’t save things for future use when in reality there is no future. Emotional and sentimental ties can clutter your home and bog you down. When you change the way you think and feel about these items in your home, it might just change your life too.

My best tip for do-it-yourself designers: Know when to save and when to splurge. I love saving money by shopping all the local discount retailers. But every room has got to have something in it that sets it apart and adds personality. Spending more on that special piece will be well worth it.

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