Deck and Patio Lighting Thoughts

One of the primary motivators for the homeowner in considering a patio or deck area as an add-on to their home is its entertainment value. Cruise the neighborhood during the day and you will more than likely see only a few people using the patio or deck. However, as evening approaches the story changes. When parent(s) come home from work or when it’s the right time to plan a party for friends and relatives, the patio or deck is frequently used as the center of festivities that often last well into the night.

During the planning stages, it’s important to include a lighting plan to make sure that the patio and deck area are not only well-lighted but that the lighting design creates a magical effect for its visitors.

Starting with the most elegant (and usually the most expensive) deck and patio lighting we can take a look at lights that are built-in to the foundation elements of the patio or deck. These lights provide a soft uplight glow that can mark a pathway or just provide a non-functional source of beauty. The lights are generally installed by contractors during the patio and deck construction and are generally not a project that the average DIY should consider tackling. I’ve seen this type of lighting done in a variety of colors and have even seen systems that automatically change the colors during the course of the evening, providing a mood-altering effect.

Dimmers are also a worthwhile investment for ground level lighting, allowing the host to increase or decrease the intensity of the lighting depending on the mood desired. Ground lighting is very safe since the lights themselves are never in contact with the visitors. Contractors will make sure that the process for changing the bulbs is simple and straightforward.

Speaking of dimmers, it’s generally a good idea to keep your entire deck and patio lighting system under dimmer control. Bright moonlight can allow you to turn the lighting down a bit while dark moonless nights can prompt you to boost the light up a bit.

Ground level lighting can also be used to frame the patio or deck area particularly if you’ve planted shrubbery or other low plantings around the area.

Down lighting is another type of deck and patio lighting. As the name implies, this is lighting from above and can be used to simulate moonlight. Besides being a natural lighting source, down lighting also enhances the security of the area because a lighted deck or patio usually leaves the impression the there’s someone at home.

A creative way to use this as a security feature is to have your doorbell circuit tied into a switch that at least temporarily turns the down lights on.

Most down lighting is accomplished by the use of either or both floodlights and spotlights. The floodlight will provide more ambient lighting by illuminating the entire deck or patio area while spotlights can be used as task lighting to highlight such areas as stairways and entryways. Spotlights can also be used to accent special features such as fountains, plantings or cooking and eating areas.

Many deck and patio lighting is installed at the waist level to keep any glare away from the face and to provide an elegant touch. Some lighting can also be installed at the top of posts that are at the top of stairways or other areas that separate one part of the deck or patio from another.

Some homeowners use strip or rope lights to highlight the porch or deck railing or other areas that need special attention such as stair risers or seating areas. If you live in an area where you can use a deck or patio during the winter holiday season, give some thought to decorating the area with lighting that can be used year-round.

Have fun with your lighting plan for your deck or patio. Most of the lighting is relatively inexpensive and can be removed or modified relatively easily. You may want to divide your plan into lights, which need to be permanently installed, and lights that are movable and optional.

Please don’t get carried away with deck and patio lighting plans. This type of lighting is best understated although some decorative lighting such as hurricane lamps or tiki torches (used in moderation) are OK.

Bugs are often a problem at night and several manufactures offer lights that discourage or repel flying pests. Sometimes a bright light, strategically placed in a tree a bit away from the patio or deck will help keep these insects occupied elsewhere rather than with your guests.

Above all, keep in mind that you want to create a magic environment that will encourage visitors to congregate and socialize late into the evening.

Garden Decoration From Junk by Leeann MacKenzie

In recent years, flea markets, junk yards, garage and yard sales, basements and attics have all been recognized as treasure chests. These places are home to antiques, memorabilia and junk. For the people who have a vision of resurrecting cast-offs found in these places, The book Garden Decoration From Junk is one to read before setting out on your quest. The book will certainly brings new meaning to container gardening and garden accessories!

A little imagination, along with the unique suggestions from the pages of this book and your yard will have a character like no other. The operative word here is imagination and after reading this book, you will chastise yourself for throwing out some perfectly good garden accessories. Everything from tin cans to car springs and cutlery can be incorporated into your outdoor setting. Your deck, patio and yard can have unique pieces that will not be found at the local garden and yard decorating centers.

Visualize old garden tools as a support for clematis, scarlet runner beans or sweet peas. Metal containers such as pots, buckets and tin cans housing your herbs. Books and foot wear that have been damaged beyond repair or restoration once again come alive and will become the center of conversation when used as planters.

This book provides an abundance of pictures that will give you every opportunity to invent an end product that would add personality to your decor both inside and out.

The old adage that one man’s junk is another man’s treasure is confirmed in page after page in this intriguing book by Leeann MacKenzie.

Create a Warm, Inviting Home and Garden With Tuscan Decor!

Reflecting the long history and exquisite vistas of the Italian countryside, Tuscan décor is a lovely option for bringing a sense of antique charm and natural beauty into your home. If you hate stuffy, pretentious decorating and you want to design a cozy, lived-in feel for your house, you simply can’t go wrong with Tuscan décor. Emphasizing warm colors, natural materials, and simple details, Tuscan decorating exudes comfort, simplicity, and peace.

At its most basic level, Tuscan décor is a celebration of the beauty of nature (think vineyards and rolling hills) and the joy of food, friends, and family. That means you’ll want to emphasize:

* Rustic, country elements

* Earth tone colors, especially warm golds, terra cottas, and greens

* Natural materials like wood and stone

* Simple details, especially organic motifs such as leaves and vines

* Time-worn, aged, and distressed decor

Start by choosing several antique-look furnishings for your room. From leather topped benches to embossed wall medallions to brightly painted hall tables, the larger pieces of your décor will set the stage and help create that aged, Tuscan feel. Be sure that you steer away from modern lines and materials (including shiny metals) to maintain the time-worn country look you’re going for.

Next, work in appropriate accents. Decorative candlesticks are always a great option, as are simple urn shaped lamps. Also, consider displaying ceramic plates on a rustic hanging plate rack or grouping colorful earthenware vases on a table. Not only do these accents add splashes of Mediterranean color, they also draw on the importance of both food and simple materials in traditional Tuscan designing.

The same Tuscan style that’s perfect for your interior decorating can also make the outdoor spaces of your home seem cozy and inviting. Using earth tones, natural materials, and time-worn pieces, your outdoor Tuscan décor is an attractive, laid-back way to complement your landscaping and create that ideal outdoor retreat. By simply adding outdoor accents that fit within the theme of Tuscan decorating, you can take your garden, porch, or patio from basic to charming Italian-country!

The first step is adding a fountain. A key part of the landscape and home architecture in Tuscany, fountains integrate water into outdoor décor, becoming a featured focal point in practically every courtyard or garden. You can do the same in your outdoor space, creating an eye-catching accent and adding the soothing sound of water to the sensory experience of your garden. Opt for a simple tiered fountain in warm terra cotta colors or choose a more detailed pedestal fountain. Remember, simple and natural should be your two key criteria when selecting a Tuscan-style fountain-materials should look like stone or terra cotta, not modern metals, and detailing should be uncomplicated and reflect the beauty of nature in botanical motifs and patterns. Position your fountain as the center of attention in your garden, making it the heart of your outdoor space and the focus of your Tuscan décor.

You’ll want to consider statuary. With its storied history and ancient past, Tuscany is filled with exquisite statues from monumental architecture to simple country gardens. For the perfect Italian-inspired outdoor décor in your yard, a statue or two is a must. Keep in mind that any kind of statuary (in earth tones or natural stone colors) can work in your Tuscan decorating. Traditionally, Tuscan design would include classical forms-think the Venus de Milo-but that doesn’t mean you have to stick with traditional nudes. As long as your statue choice stays grounded in the fundamentals of Tuscan décor (natural materials, aged appearance, organic details), just about any statue can complement your Tuscan theme.

You don’t have to live in Tuscany to have the feel of a Tuscan villa. You can create that cozy feeling in your own home using warm colors, natural materials, and keeping it simple in design.