Archive for the 'Outdoor Living' Category

Dec 09 2009

Profile Image of Curtis Cadenhead

Tips: Decorating your House with Christmas Lights

Christmas LightsNow is the time for people everywhere to get into the holiday spirit. One of the most common ways is by hanging decorations, more specifically decorating homes and yards with Christmas lights. An exterior display of Christmas lights can range from a simple strand of white lights wrapped around the front porch rail to an elaborate display of multi-color lights decking the home and landscaping. No matter how you plan to decorate the outside of your home with lights, these tips will help you hang your holiday lights with less hassle.

 

1.    You will need a ladder, measuring tapes, hooks/light clips, holiday lights, extension cords, a hammer, and an assistant.

2.    Have a plan. Sketch the outside of your house and determine what you want to decorate – the gables and eaves, the windows, porch rails and columns, bushes, every tree branch. Indicate locations of available outlets on your sketch. Measure and label the width and depth of your house. Have your assistant record the measurements. Measure the height of bushes and trees.

3.    Figure out how many lights you will need. Most come in lengths of 25-200 lights. Professionals recommend figuring about 50 lights per foot of height for bushes. If you are using miniature lights, double the number. Decide on a color scheme for your lights and whether you prefer solid, blinking or chasing lights.

4.    Purchase and test lights. Choose lights rated for outdoor use. They are usually more weather resistant and larger and bolder making them stand out against your house, garage and landscaping. Test every string of lights before you hang them. There is nothing more frustrating than hanging the lights and turning them on only to find some of the bulbs do not work.

5.    Hang the lights. Securely place hooks or light clips at regular intervals under the eaves of your home so your lights will not droop. Hang them one strand at a time making sure the strands are tightly connected. You may want to wrap/seal them with electrical tape to help keep rain and snow out. Your assistant will be key at this time holding the ladder, helping hold the lights, etc.

6.    Light trees and bushes. Wrap tree trunks and branches with lights. Wind or zigzag lights throughout each bush. Wrap lights around trellises and other landscape features.

7.    If you need to run extension cords, tape them down so no one trips on them.

 

 

Additional Safety Tips

 

1.    Hang lights on a dry day. It reduces the chance of electrical shock and slipping on the ladder.

2.    Be sure to use lights rated for exterior use. Interior lights are night designed to withstand the elements such as snow and rain.

3.    Use multiple outlets to reduce the load on a single outlet.

4.    Use plastic light clips or hooks. They are much safer for the wires than nails or a staple gun and easier to remove.

5.    Check wires for damage to insulation. Throw away any that are damaged. It is not worth risking a house fire just because you tried to save a couple bucks on cheaply manufactured lights. 

 

 

Think Green

 

1.    Purchase LED lights. They use 80-90% less energy than traditional incandescent lights and some can last up to 20,000 hours. They are also cool to the touch.

2.    Put your holiday lights on a timer. This way you won’t forget to turn them off before bed, and you will save energy by not keeping them lit all night. Besides, there aren’t many people out looking at holiday lights at 3:00 AM anyway.

 

With these helpful tips, you are on your way to hanging Christmas lights outdoors safely, spreading holiday cheer and doing your part for the environment.

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Jul 22 2009

Profile Image of Curtis Cadenhead

House Plans with Outdoor Living Spaces

Filed under Outdoor Living

House Plan 035H-0034If you are planning to build a new house chances are you’ve consider a wide range of aspects and elements about the interior of your home from efficiency and comfort to form and function. You’ve probably even considered the exterior appearance. But before you make your final decision about the house plan you wish to build, take some time to think about the usefulness and other benefits of choosing a floor plan with at least one outdoor living space making the most of your lot and yard.

 

Outdoor living spaces include a wide range of possibilities. They can be almost any size and can satisfy one or more purposes.  They include covered front or rear porches, wrap-around porches, screened porches, covered or open decks, patios, terraces, lanais, balconies and more. Furthermore, special features such as outdoor fireplaces, grills, outdoor kitchens, pools, hot tubs, spas, gazebos, cabanas, built in seating and planters improve usefulness, function and enjoyment of outdoor living spaces. Other additions include sound systems to listen to music or the ball game, a TV tucked into a weather proof cabinet, outdoor lighting, ceiling fans and weather poof furniture.

 

How could your family use an outdoor living space?  Think about your family and the activities you enjoy.  The following ideas will help you decide what outdoor living space is right for you.

 

·         Do you enjoy barbecues and outdoor gatherings? A deck, patio, covered porch or screened porch work well for grilling and outdoor dining. If you tune into your favorite radio station you can enjoy some music too.

·         Maybe you prefer to prepare an entire outdoor meal. Consider a grilling porch or outdoor kitchen keeping the heat outside while leaving your indoor kitchen clean and spotless. Furthermore, your family and friends will enjoy as tasty meal outside without leaving a mess inside for you to clean up when everyone’s gone home.

House Plan 043H-0155·         Do you envision your kids swimming all summer long? Does your family hope to throw pool parties through the summer months? A patio, lanai or a deck will make a nice complement to any home with a pool.  Add built in benches for extra seating and outdoor lighting so your gatherings can continue after sunset.

·         Maybe you just enjoy reading or relaxing outdoors after a day at the office.  Consider a courtyard or covered porch. Planters will add a splash of color and satisfy any gardener’s green thumb. Perhaps an upper level balcony is more what you desire, a wonderful place to watch the sunset.

·         Do you have a lot with beautiful panoramic views? Do you enjoy submerging yourself in the sights and sounds of Mother Nature? A sweeping deck or full-length covered porch will give you a great place to take in the view or observe surrounding wildlife.

·         Does your family like to entertain? Maybe a covered porch with an outdoor fireplace is the answer. You’ll have a great place for gathering and conversation without being crowded inside the house and the fireplace will give the kids an opportunity to roast marshmallows and make S’mores when they want a snack. Not to mention everyone will enjoy the warmth of a crackling fire on a crisp fall evening.

·         Looking for a romantic evening? How about dessert and stargazing with your loved one on an open deck? An open deck is also great for sunbathing. 

 

Outdoor living spaces offer endless possibilities. With a little imagination, your family can use and enjoy the spaces surrounding your new home just as much as the interior living areas. Be sure to consider the outdoor living spaces of every home plan you review.

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