First impressions count: How to improve your home’s curb appeal

I’m sure you already know the importance of a good first impression – after all, there’s a reason why we show up to job interviews in suits instead of sweat pants. It’s the same reason why we clean the house before guests come to stay. The interior of your home, however, is not what people will notice first. Curb appeal describes the visual attractiveness of your house when it is seen from the street. Before guests get a peak at the entryway, the living room or the guest room of your home, they will notice your home’s front yard and exterior. Boost your home’s curb appeal and make a great first impression with some of the ideas listed below.

1. Give your home a facelift with a fresh coat of paint.
Photo credit: Piece of Cake/ Piece of Mind

Photo credit: Piece of Cake/ Piece of Mind

If you’re not in love with your home’s current exterior color, choose a new one to dramatically change the appearance of your home. A new coat of paint of the same color can improve the look of your exterior and also helps protect your home from the elements.

2. Consider adding shutters.

Photo credit: PinterestI think shutters are charming and add character to one’s home. If you love shutters as much as I do, consider adding them to enhance your windows and exterior.

3. Light up your home for evening curb appeal.

landscape lightingAt night, it’s hard to make your home look inviting. Adding landscape lighting can give your home a welcoming appearance in the dark, and it also increases safety for you, your family and guests who are moving about the exterior of your home.

4. Dress up your mailbox.

mailboxI rarely see stylish mailboxes, and I think it’s a missed opportunity for homeowners to have some fun with their outdoor decor. You can either buy a new decorative mailbox or keep the one you have and give it some color. Small details like this can have a huge impact on curb appeal.

5. Add decorative touches where you can.

planterUse things such as planters next to the door or a welcome mat on your front porch. Just like the inside of your home, decorative pieces can add style and visual interest to your home’s outward appearance.

Does your home have curb appeal? If not, it may be time to dress up your home’s exterior and make a better impression to those walking by.

By Wendy Weinert

How to create a welcoming porch

I don’t know about you, but I want my home to feel welcoming to guests. A welcoming home means that friends and family will feel more comfortable during a visit and may even mean that they will be anticipating their next stay! While every room in the home can be decorated to feel inviting, the best place to start is actually outside, since the front porch is the first “room” guests will see. Here are some of my favorite ideas for welcoming guests into a home:

Offer a seatPorch_Livingroomset_Club-4

I like to think of the front porch as being an outdoor living room, where you can socialize with close friends and family while enjoying the nice weather. A porch swing is a popular choice for kids and adults alike, but if your space isn’t big enough you can also seat guests on a smaller patio chair.

Make it cozy with a rug
porch blog- rug

Photo credit: Pinterest

A rug instantly makes any room I’m in feel more cozy. You probably use a rug to cozy up the living room, so why not do the same for the front porch? A welcome mat can also look inviting, especially if you’re working with limited space.

 Add light for nighttime
porch blog- lighting 2

Photo credit: Pinterest

It’s hard to create a welcoming vibe when your front porch is completely dark. Plus, evenings are often the best time to enjoy a front porch – when the weather isn’t so hot. Try using a couple of outdoor wall lights to invite guests outdoors.

 Paint the door
porch blog- painted door

Photo credit: Pinterest

You don’t have to paint the front door to make it welcoming, but I love the idea of a a bright-colored door! If you have a small front porch, this can be an easy way to add color and style without cluttering the area.

 Complete the look with a few final touches
porch blog- final touches

Photo credit: Pinterest

A couple of potted plants, a few accent pillows on your swinging chair and a hanging sign on the door – these types of finishing touches are perfect for tying the welcoming look together.

Does your front porch invite people into your home? If not, try out a few of these welcoming ideas!

By Wendy Weinert

5 Ideas for Hosting an Outdoor Movie Night

5 Ideas for Hosting an Outdoor Movie Night

Kara Paslay Designs

It’s your turn to host movie night this month. Are you ready to put a new spin on your monthly tradition? Taking your movie night outdoors is an easy way to change things up and offer a new experience to guests. To make the evening enjoyable for everyone, keep these helpful tips in mind while planning the event.

5 Ideas for Hosting an Outdoor Movie Night

1. Let guests help pick the movie

You might like horror films or romantic comedies, but that doesn’t mean your guests like the same ones. Let your friends have some input regarding what movie you watch by compiling a list of suggestions and asking them to pick their top three. Then you can pick the movie (or movies) with the most votes.

5 Ideas for Hosting an Outdoor Movie Night

2. Prepare snacks and refreshments

Go with the classic movie-theater snack by making popcorn, but flavor it with fun toppings like paprika or chili powder for a unique twist. When handing out refreshments, offer them in closed bottles to prevent spills and to keep bugs from contaminating the water or soda.

5 Ideas for Hosting an Outdoor Movie Night

3. Provide comfortable seating

It’s hard to enjoy a movie when you’re constantly shifting to get comfortable. If you have outdoor chairs, add a cushion or pillow to make the seat comfier for guests. If your seating area is in the grass, you can use plush blankets instead.

5 Ideas for Hosting an Outdoor Movie Night

4. Keep everyone warm

As the sun drops, so will the temperature. Help your friends stay warm by sitting around a fire pit and providing spare blankets for everyone. You can then use the fire pit to make s’mores for dessert!

5 Ideas for Hosting an Outdoor Movie Night

5. Add light

A fire pit may be all the light you need, but if the fire dies out you’ll need to rely on a different light source. Your outdoor lighting should be soft so everyone can still see the movie. Consider an outdoor lamp or use landscape lighting to illuminate your outdoor space.

Hosting a movie night outdoors isn’t hard, but it can be an uncomfortable experience without the right setup. Use these ideas to start a new tradition and host an unforgettable movie night outdoors.

By Wendy Weinert

The latest outdoor decor trends to liven up your yard

In the spring and summer months, your front and back yards are extensions of your home’s interior design. So why not spend time perfecting your outdoor space like you do your interior? Try these five outdoor décor trends to refresh your yard space and captivate all those who pass by.

The latest outdoor decor trends to liven up your yard

1. Mood lighting

With so many outdoor lighting solutions available today, there’s no reason to take the party inside when the sun goes down! Along with outdoor lamps and wall lights, you can use ambient lighting underneath chairs, benches and sofas to create a social environment that is chic and comfortable.

The latest outdoor decor trends to liven up your yard

2. A natural garden 

Gardens are all about the natural and organic. Complete your garden setup then with natural materials to create seating and landscaping. For example, you can place a concrete bench in your garden instead of a plastic chair. Then simply use accent pillows to add comfort and color.

The latest outdoor decor trends to liven up your yard

Photo credit: Houzz

3. Vertical gardens

If you don’t have a garden due to limited outdoor space, take advantage of your house’s exterior walls to create a vertical garden. Succulents are the best plants to grow in vertical walls because they do not need very much water or maintenance. They’re also nice to grow because they come in a variety of colors and textures, which adds visual interest to your wall.

The latest outdoor decor trends to liven up your yard

4. Fire pits

Enjoy a camping experience right in your own backyard with a fire pit. Like outdoor lighting, fire pits make it easier for you, your family and friends to enjoy the outdoors even at night. Plus, they come in all different sizes, so even those with small spaces can benefit from this trend.

The latest outdoor decor trends to liven up your yard

Photo credit: Freshhome

5. Recessed seating in the pool

Turn your outdoor space into a relaxing getaway by installing recessed seating in your pool. Recessed seating gives pools a look of luxury, and your pool will become your guests’ favorite place to relax when visiting your home.

Is your outdoor space ready for summer? If not, spruce it up with any of these latest décor trends!

By Wendy Weinert

 

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.

LED_Bulb

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.

summer event blog

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 Exteriors Prescott II

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.

Garage exterior 23026-BRZ-CLR

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 Executive home

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 Exteriors Fredericksburg

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.