Get garden ready for summer
The deck has an unhealthy green pallor and is perilous to walk on. The block walls and fencing are a very unfashionable grey and the grass looks like it's got mange. Where do you start? Procrastination won't make-over your garden, says Sheena Vernon, … Read more on Irish Times
Got a deck? Solar panels now a plug-in appliance
A do-it-yourself kit for installing a handful of solar panels lets people dip their toes into grid-tied solar power. by Martin LaMonica May 12, 2012 12:00 AM PDT Follow @mlamonica Power deck: plug-in solar panel appliances being tested. Read more on CNET
real estate beat: The high cost of the 'unimprovement'
High on the list of "unimprovements" are poorly designed and maintained decks. I, and every other real estate agent, have seen numerous decks that make the house they are attached to, less valuable. Probably the number one most expensive item on most … Read more on Willits News
Now that summer is fast approaching most of us tend to push thoughts of outdoor lighting to the back of our minds. After all, who needs much lighting when the days are long and the beautiful sunlight is plentiful? Most people would agree with the writer Henry James when he said, Summer afternoon — summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language, and leave it at that. But not so fast, says Lamps Plus blogger and designer Marcia Prentice. There are actually a lot of summer outdoor lighting ideas that you can use to not only add style to your home, but also safety and energy savings.
Start with Porch Lights
The longer days mean that family and guests will be out and about later into the evening. Because of this, porch lights are essential for welcoming guests in style and giving them adequate light to safely navigate walkways and steps. Porch lights also add a touch of elegance and curb appeal to just about any home, notes Marcia. Just remember to size the light correctly for the size of your home. Most people buy fixtures that are too small for their porch space. I like to cut out a piece of paper thats the size of the fixture, tape it into location and then stand at the curb or in the walkway to see how it will look. The same approach can be used to size backyard patio lights.
Dark Sky Lighting
One option for outdoor lighting around your home is what is called Dark Sky outdoor lights. These types of lights aim light at the ground, not the sky, reducing light pollution. Many local communities have Dark Sky lighting regulations, which may specifically call for this type of lighting. Even if you dont need to install this type, it is still a great option for homeowners, says Marcia. With more light on the ground, they can actually improve visibility in walkways by reducing light glare and flares. This means you can reduce the wattage of the bulbs you use, saving energy over the long term.
Security is always an issue with outdoor lighting, notes Marcia. Aside from style, youll also want to make sure that your plan offers safety and security for your summer evenings outdoors. I love using dusk to dawn lights for seating areas, porches and garden pathways. This type of lighting uses a built-in photocell to automatically turn the light on at dusk and then off again at dawn. You dont have to be home for the outdoor lighting to turn on and you dont have to remember to turn lights off after a party or family gathering, explains Marcia. The built-in dusk to dawn feature takes care of everything for you, which is a great security feature as well as something that will save you energy and money.
Energy Efficient Outdoor Lighting
For those wanting to really save on their energy bills, energy efficient outdoor lights are the way to go. Today there are more energy efficient outdoor lighting designs on the market than ever before, says Marcia. Many of these use new LED technology or other design features to make them as energy-miser as possible, and they come in all styles for your home, from traditional to really ultra-modern looks. Energy Star rated outdoor lights are a popular option, though designs without the rating can be just as energy efficient. Energy Star is a government program tests fixtures based on guidelines set by the EPA and the U.S. Department of Energy. Look for the tags on products to see if they are Energy Star, says Marcia, She also advises that consumers look at the wattage of the bulbs used by the fixture and, also very important, the lumens, or light level output, the bulbs produce. This will really help you determine how much light a design will produce and at what cost. Outdoor lights are on a lot, so its important to know what your energy costs will be before you buy.
Add the Party Lights
Whats a summer season without a BBQ or pool party? String lights, often called party lights, are an inexpensive way to add a fun look to your summer entertaining. Many times you can string together multiple strands of lights, so you can use them to cover large decks or garden areas. They are found in a wide range of themes, from paper lanterns to flowers, with a number of child-themed options as well. I love that you can just string them up for a party to transform the look of your space, plug them in, and then quickly take them down the next day after the party is over, says Marcia. And you dont even have to hang them up. You can just bunch them together and put them in tall glass jars or wrap them around tree trunks to create really interesting effects.
For more summer tips and trends, visit the Style Illuminated Interior Design blog by Lamps Plus.
About Lamps Plus
For over 30 years Lamps Plus has been synonymous with excellence in the lighting retail industry. Established in 1976, Lamps Plus is the nation’s largest specialty lighting company, with over 40 superstores throughout the western United States. Together with their retail stores and online business, the company serves over five million customers each year with the largest selection of functional and decorative lighting fixtures, ceiling fans, furniture, and home decor. This selection includes hundreds of products available exclusively from Lamps Plus. Services include free in-home lighting consultations, in-store lighting seminars and installation from expert, licensed electricians. American Lighting Association certified lighting designers are available to offer product recommendations and advice in all our stores, by phone or online at LampsPlus.com. Please contact PR(at)LampsPlus(dot)com for more information.
TravelAge West, a leading B2B travel magazine distributed to travel agents in the Western United States, has launched its Summer Showdown contest on Facebook.
The contest, which runs through March 15, 2012, asks fans of the TravelAge West Facebook page to chime in about their preferred travel plans for the summer. Contestants can cast a vote for touring or for cruising, and are being asked to comment on why this is their preferred method of travel for the summer.
There is an ongoing dialogue among our travel agent partners about which form of travel best matches the needs of their clients, said Kenneth Shapiro, Editor-in-Chief of TravelAge West. Now we are taking the question directly to the traveling public to learn what they think.
This contest lets us take the pulse of today’s travelers. By collecting comments we can provide valuable feedback to our supplier partners about what consumers are looking to do with their summer vacations, and why, said Shapiro.
The contest will recognize two winners, with TravelAge West editors selecting the best comment from the touring category and the best comment from the cruising category. The first-prize winner with the best comment from category receving the most votes will take home an iPad2. The person making the best comment in the runner-up category will win an iPod Touch. Both winning comments will also be featured in a future issue of TravelAge West magazine.
The Summer Showdown contest is open to all fans of the TravelAge West Facebook page, as long as they are a resident of the U.S. or Canada (excluding Quebec). Entrants do not need to be travel agents.
Contestants may enter the Summer Showdown contest at Facebook, and a complete list of rules is available at TravelAge West.
About TravelAge West
Los Angeles-based TravelAge West is a leading B2B travel magazine, with a biweekly circulation of 25,000 travel agents. In addition to its award-winning print content, TravelAge West also features a vibrant online presence, with content designed to help inform busy travel agents of whats new and whats hot in the travel industry. In addition to rich destination coverage, TravelAge West provides such content as travel itineraries, travel agent fam trips, as well as information on travel agent discounts and bonus commissions.
TravelAge West is a part of the New Jersey-based Northstar Travel Media group, the worlds largest producer of B2B content for the travel industry, including Travel Weekly, Meetings & Conventions and Successful Meetings, as well as leading research company, PhoCusWright.
For more information, visit TravelAge West at http://www.travelagewest.com.
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