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Published: Friday, 7/31/2009

In the Dark about Outdoor Lighting? Tips for Brightening Up

(ARA) - Nothing says "summer" like outdoor entertaining. But if poor lighting means your outdoor activities end when the sun goes down, it may be time to brighten up.

From the front door to the backyard deck, lighting plays an important role in the beauty, usability and safety of your outdoor living space. Small changes in lighting can have a big impact on your home's curb appeal and your ability to enjoy outdoor living.

Daniel Auer, a lighting expert with LightingShowplace.com, offers a few tips on how to improve exterior lighting.

Light the Way

"Night-time visitors should feel welcomed with light as soon as their car stops in front of your house," Auer says. That means driveways and walkways leading to your front door should be well-lit enough to ensure safe footing, yet not so bright that they overpower the main lights above or beside your front door.

At the door, if your home currently has just one lantern next to the door, consider replacing it with matching lanterns. Flanking the door with matched lights will create a warm, even glow while assuring the safety of those who enter. If your home has a porch or overhang, you have even more options: a recessed, chain-hung or ceiling fixture.

Light the Landscape

"When it comes to landscape lighting, many homeowners tend to forget about the back yard," Auer says. While simple canister lights, directed on key landscape elements like trees or planting beds, can create drama for your home's facade, don't overlook the value of more whimsical choices or of lighting your back yard.

More powerful, practical path lighting makes sense for front areas where guests may be walking from car to house. In back yards, consider using more delicate path lights to highlight areas, like water features and seating arrangements. For example, LightingShowplace.com sells path lights shaped like graceful flowers, with a gentle light subtly nestled within the bowed head of the bloom.

Deck it Out

If the kitchen is the heart of the home, a great deck is its crowning glory. Americans are now building and expanding decks more than ever before, as the trend towards great outdoor living spaces continues. Just as you employ lighting to create usability, mood and appeal in your kitchen, the right lighting outdoors can enhance the safety and enjoyment of your deck.

"There are numerous ways to light your deck, from lanterns that sit on the post caps of your deck rails to outdoor lamps that work with your outdoor furniture much as lamps do indoors," Auer says.

One of the hottest trends in deck lighting plays to a hot trend in deck construction. Decorative rails, all the rage right now, require decorative lighting. From strand lighting designed to mimic the twinkling of the stars overhead to sconces shaped like flowers and animals, the options for adding light to deck railings have boomed in the past few years.

You'll Be A Fan

Overhead fans are a great way to add multiple layers of lighting -- not to mention comfort -- to outdoor spaces like gazebos, screened porches and decks. Any fan that you love indoors can easily be used outdoors with the proper wiring. What's more, most fans offer dimmer options so you can adjust light levels to match the mood of your gathering.

Fans with blades that evoke the look of leaves or fern fronds are particularly attractive in outdoor settings, helping underscore the natural appeal of the space. Courtesy of ARAcontent

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