Entertain in style with these outdoor patio decorating tips

After months of cold weather and snow, spring has finally arrived, and soon you can put that outdoor patio space to good use. Outdoor patios are the perfect place for entertaining during the warm spring and summer months – all you need is the right furniture, décor and these three helpful tips:

Entertain in style with these outdoor patio decorating tips

1. Arrange your space to match the occasion

Will your patio be used for afternoon cook-outs or for sophisticated dinners during the evening? Maybe your outdoor space will be a place where friends and family can simply gather for conversation and to enjoy the sunshine. Before you start browsing patio furniture, consider the different ways you might use your outdoor space so you can create a comfortable environment to match the style of entertaining you prefer.

Entertain in style with these outdoor patio decorating tips

Photo credit: Kate Byer Interior Design

2. Don’t forget about the lighting

While the sun can light up your space during the day, you’ll need outdoor lighting for evening entertaining so your guests can see each other! Make sure to set up the proper outdoor lighting so you can use your patio any time of the day. If you don’t have an outdoor electrical outlet, solar or candle-filled lanterns will also do the trick.

Entertain in style with these outdoor patio decorating tips

3. Add comfort with decorative pillows

Let’s face it – outdoor patio furniture is never going to be as comfortable as that plush sofa in your living room. That doesn’t mean, however, that you have to suffer hard chairs or benches. Use accent pillows for décor and to add comfort around the outdoor patio area. You can even use a large pillow as an extra seat if you run out of chairs!

Entertain in style with these outdoor patio decorating tips

Photo credit: La Dolce Vita

4. Make the most of the space you have

If your patio is small, simply work with what you have and find ways to maximize your space. For example, you can set up furniture around the perimeter of your space to provide room for movement and mingling. If your space is primarily for conversation, simply bunch furniture closer together to create a more intimate and cozy experience.

Don’t let the warm weather go to waste. With these tips in mind, you can set up your outdoor patio and enjoy months of entertaining fun!

By Wendy Weinert

5 things you might not know about LED lighting

You’ve surely heard the hubbub about getting rid of old-style incandescent light bulbs and switching to more eco-friendly, energy-efficient bulbs to light your home. The hype has started for good reason – lights like LEDs really are longer-lasting and more efficient, and come in a multitude of shapes and sizes. But many people are still reluctant to make the switch.

Photo Credit: Corbett Lighting

If you’re curious about LED lighting, but not sure about making the transition, here are five key things you need to know.

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1. What are LEDs, anyway? LED stands for “light emitting diode” and it’s those diodes that make the lights different from traditional incandescent and CFL bulbs, which contain filaments inside a glass bulb. The LED “bulb” contains tiny light sources or lenses that illuminate when an electrical current passes through a semiconductor within the bulb.

2. Do LED bulbs really last longer? Yes, they do! One LED bulb can have a life of 100,000 hours. Compare that to the average life span of a traditional incandescent light – just 750 hours.

3. Are LEDs actually eco-friendly? It’s not just a sales tactic – LEDs use less energy (less demand on the environment), last longer (fewer bulbs to throw away) and contain no toxic materials. They’re even recyclable.

4. LEDs are only for small fixtures, right? Nope! LED light fixtures have come a long way in recent years, and homeowners with a strong sense of taste can rejoice – virtually any style of fixture is now available in an LED version. So from your living room chandelier to the pendants above your kitchen bar, LEDs can light the way – and do it beautifully.LED_OutdoorPostLantern

5. Can LEDs be used outside? Absolutely! Whether you’re lighting up a pathway to your patio space or welcoming your guests to your front door, outdoor LED light fixtures will do the task – and save you the headaches of having to replace bulbs on a regular basis.

Outdoor lighting: Perfect illumination for every kind of porch

Every house has its own unique personality – and that’s often apparent right at the front door. While there numerous home entry styles, the one you choose – and how you decorate it – says a lot about you and your style. And the key décor element for any porch is generally an outdoor light fixture.

On Location, 9-08, 2571-LT2-DB, Red House.2

Consider these three types of porches and home entries and how lighting can define and improve the space:

  • A large, open porch: Sweeping, gracious porches are a much-loved characteristic of classic American homes, particularly in the South. Because they encourage lingering and lots of use, it’s necessary to have sufficient lighting; that might mean a multitude of fixtures. A large sconce by the door provides welcoming light but recessed ceiling lighting can help illuminate the rest of the space.
  • A screened in porch: These versatile spaces often end up serving as additional living areas. Because screened-in porches make the most of enjoyable weather without letting insects in to pester you, they’re comfortable and useful, even after dark. To add light and keep the air moving, a combination fan and light fixture is ideal. For times when you only need a bit of light, a sconce – or pair of sconces – directly next to the door will do the trick.
  • A classic portico: A sconce can overwhelm a small portico space or give it an unbalanced look. A pendant lighting fixture, like a lantern or a chandelier, adds charm as well as illumination to a portico, all without throwing off the visual balance. Because it’s a smaller space, keep overhead clearance in mind.

Having the right lighting on your porch will make a difference in how you welcome your guests, spend your time and establish the look of your home. Choose carefully and you’ll create a space that’s as versatile as it is beautiful.

Light it up! How to draw attention to your home’s architectural details

Your home is your castle – with all the care and attention you pay to making it look just right, why not show it all off? Using carefully placed and directed lights that shine up onto your home’s exterior, you can draw attention to your favorite aspects of the design and highlight the details that you love most.

Uplighting“Uplighting” enjoys a lot of popularity in certain parts of the country, while in other regions, it’s relatively unusual. Drive through a neighborhood of beautifully uplit homes, though, and you’ll understand the appeal – and want to add uplighting to your landscape, as well. An added enticement is that the more light there is outside your home, the better your guests will be able to safely maneuver along paths and entryways, and the better you’ll be able to deter thieves.

How you arrange your exterior uplighting will depend on the style of your home. It might take a bit of adjustment to get the angles just right, but once you do, your home’s details will shine. Highlighting porticoes, bay windows and molding can highlight your home’s most beautiful exterior details, even in the dark. What’s more, shining lights on the angles can better define the look of your home, turning its nighttime appearance from shapeless box to stylish abode.

Both well lights and landscaping accent lights can be part of your design scheme. Whether you work with a designer or take a DIY approach, uplighting is a relatively simple way to redefine the look of your home.

Hot Summer Savings: Get the best deals on lighting you need now

Summer’s here and that means enjoying the outdoors, inviting friends over for summer parties and barbecues, and trying to stay cool as the temperatures climb. With all that in mind, it’s the ideal season to switch up your lighting – and Bellacor’s Hot Summer Savings Sale makes it easier to do it. Enjoy 15 percent off lighting fixtures that will make your home as ready for summer as you are.

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Here are three lighting options that are sure to make summer living even easier:

ceiling fanFan fixtures: When it’s hot outside, one of two things will happen inside your home. It will either get hot right along with the outdoor temps, or your energy bills will go through the roof, thanks to cooling costs. Save yourself the sweltering and the hit to your wallet by adding lighting fixtures equipped with fans. They’ll help cool your space without the costly energy expenditures of air conditioning – plus, they can add some breezy summer style.

Pinecone_outdoorlightingLandscape lighting: As your gardens start to bloom, show off all the work your green thumbs have done. Carefully arranged landscape lighting will show off your finest plants and flowers, and can also help guide guests safely along outdoor pathways.

Outdoor room lighting2Light_OutdoorPost: Setting the scene is the most important part of summer entertaining. Get in on one of the hottest outdoor design trends – outdoor rooms – by adding decorative lighting and comfortable, chic (and weather-resistant) furniture. Lighting options can range from post lights to sconces, or, in enclosed spaces like a screened-in patio, even chandeliers.

With 15% savings on lighting across the Bellacor website, it’s even easier to make this summer a stylish one.

Light your landscape for splendor and safety

You can keep your home safe while enhancing your landscape’s beauty – just improve your outdoor lighting. It expands your outdoor entertaining opportunities, provides better sidewalk illumination for guests, adds a bit of romance to your porch and makes your yard interesting in the evening.

Front entrance. A well-lit stoop allows you to identify visitors, and gives guests a warm welcome. Choose wall lanterns on either side of the front door that match your home’s look, whether it’s traditional or modern.

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Garage exterior. Match the wall lanterns on your home’s entrance to ones on either side of your garage door. If part of your house would still be in shadow, illuminate with a spotlight above the garage door. Consider installing a motion sensor on these fixtures, or a photocell that turns the lights on at dusk and off at dawn. This will conserve energy. Be a considerate neighbor – make sure your lights don’t shine directly into your neighbors’ windows.

Steps and pathways. Path lights or post lanterns will not only add beauty to your home’s exterior, they will also add safety for visitors. Low-level path lights, which spread circular patterns of light, will not only show the way to your front entrance, but can also highlight nearby flower beds, shrubs and ground cover. They can also help define the boundaries of long driveways.

Decks, porches and patios. Convert these into romantic retreats with low-voltage lighting. You’ll also be creating outdoor “rooms,” extending your entertaining spaces. Plus, chasing away shadows from these areas adds to your safety. Grills and serving areas, of course, need brighter task lighting, which could be provided by wall-mounted or free-standing lamps.

For all this lighting, experts suggest you buy the best-quality and well-constructed fixtures you can afford. They will last longer and be better values in the long run.

Outdoor lighting design that does more than shine

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Way back when, all you needed for a backyard party was a little charcoal grill, some plastic cups, paper plates and bug spray. But today, outdoor entertaining is much more than that – it’s all about style and creating an ambience that your guests can savor and are sure to remember. Hosting warm-weather get-togethers doesn’t need to be complicated, though. In fact, one simple tip will go a long way in creating the perfect party environment.

So, what’s the secret? Create the perfect backdrop, then add to it.

Just as you wouldn’t pick out elements for your interior living room that clash and mismatch, you shouldn’t carelessly select unrelated items for your outdoor space. If you can tie into the overall aesthetic of your home’s exterior, so much the better.

There are a few key elements that every outdoor space needs: tables, seating, pots for plants and lighting. How you select and arrange those elements is central to creating a setting that’s more like an outdoor extension of your home, rather than any old patio in the neighborhood.

Outdoor lighting  is often an afterthought, but it should be front and center in your design process. It’s certainly a functional element – guiding your guests safely to and from your home and patio. It adds ambience to parties at dusk and after dark – plus it also presents an opportunity to create a cohesive look for your space.

For example, if you live in a classic bungalow, landscape lighting with a Mission or Craftsman touch, like the Kichler Cross Creek Path and Spread Light, will look great. Or, if your home has a classic Colonial look, the World Imports Revere Large Outdoor Wall Mount light would be the perfect complement. Paired with furniture and planters that have similar lines and character, and you’ll establish a design foundation that can be adapted to suit any soiree.

There are few things better than spending time outdoors when the weather’s at its finest. Utilize these tips and you’ll enjoy a season of sensational outdoor parties.

Common Outdoor Lighting Mistakes and Their Solutions

Upgrading your home’s exterior lighting is a surefire way to increase your home’s curb appeal and resell value. And a well-lit front lawn can also deter would-be burglars. Most of all the outdoor lighting of one’s home adds a welcoming touch for family and guests. Here you can learn about outdoor lighting trends, common lighting problems and their solutions, and things to consider when selecting outdoor lighting fixtures.

First and foremost, it’s important to give a considerable amount of thought to the placement of your outdoor lights. Just as you would not place several lighting fixtures like table lamps or wall sconces in a single area of your living room, you don’t want to place exterior fixtures too close together either. This is a common problem when integrating pathlights into your outdoor lighting solution. Too many pathlights, too close together can make your walkway look more like the runway at an airport. Instead of placing the lights directly opposite one another on either end, try a staggered approach. The light will flow less harshly.

Another common mistake in selecting outdoor lights is in finding the proper lighting direction, or limiting “light pollution”. Outdoor lights should not obstruct one’s vision or interfere with one being able to see the entire landscape of a yard or area clearly. On a similar note, the lights should not shine directly into the road or a neighboring yard either. To avoid such issues, look for spotlights with glare guards.

Just as it would be boring to find the same exact lamp in every room of one’s home, it’s boring to see the same outdoor lighting fixture repeated throughout the yard. It can make the home appear institutional as opposed to personal. Use a wide variety of fixtures to light your yard; it will enhance the character and charm of your home.

Be sure to balance your home’s exterior lighting. Another common mistake in outdoor lighting placement, is to inadvertently divide the yard by placing too many lights in one area and too little in another. You want to evenly distribute light throughout the canvas of your home. You don’t want your yard looking like a parking lot.

Finally, like most things in home décor, less is more. Outdoor lighting should call attention to the beautiful and unique features of your home. It should not be intrusive. Proper outdoor lighting calls attention to various parts of your home’s exterior, not the entire surface area. Over illumination is never attractive indoor or outdoor.

Bellacor is a one-stop showroom that promises a new way to shop the entire lighting and home furnishings industry from the comfort of your home by providing superior personal service and access to the largest collection of lighting and home furnishings on the web. Bellacor offers access to over 500,000 products from 700 manufacturers. http://www.bellacor.com