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Sin Number One: Errant Illumination

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While it's true that great design will neither save a life nor cause lions and lambs to cuddle, a shoddily decorated home elicits bi-partisan calls for immediate and definitive action. Which is why we've asked James Swan, Beverly Hills decorator and author of the "101 Things I Hate About Your House" Facebook page—and, soon, book—to produce a weekly Curbed National series entitled The Seven Deadly Sins of Decorating.

Ever watched a Merchant Ivory film and wondered why everyone looks so damn good? Here's a secret: it's the lighting. Which brings us to the inaugural The Seven Deadly Sins of Decorating column: The Sin of Errant Illumination. From blinding lights flanking entry doors to naked bulbs populating chandeliers, sconces and—cringe—table and floor lamps, the cold, harsh light from these tacit transgressors is enough to push otherwise docile guests to the extremes of host-bashing-ly bad behavior. Photogallery's above—just don't squint too hard.

· James Swan [official site]
· 101 Things I Hate About Your House [Facebook]