My friends and family consider me to be a little type A when it comes to personality traits, but the truth is, I like to perfect things in my life…like when I put up my holiday lights every year. Here are my tried and true tips that will ensure your own form of perfection!
Start with your measuring tape. Trying to guess when you are at the store is a recipe for failure! First, measure the length of the front of the house. This number is the amount of feet you need for the lights under the eaves. Multiply this number by the amount of stories that you want to light. Some homes have dormers over the windows on the second story; if that’s you, then include an additional 8 feet of lights per peak. If you want to light around windows, you need to measure the height and the width, then double that number. Do the same for around doors, along hand rails or anywhere else you want light.
Here are a few quick tips for hanging those lights:
1. When lighting windows – Always start in the bottom corner closest to your power source because when you light a square or rectangle, you always finish where you start. When you’re all attached, your plug will be right where you need it.
2. Don’t forget to check the box before you buy it for the ‘Lighted Length’ vs. the ‘Total Length’. The lighted length is the number you are looking for
3. Even if your string of lights has most of the bulbs working, make sure you replace all of the burned out lights. When one light burns out, the others on the same string carry the extra electric load, which means they will burn out faster as well.
If all of this sounds a little scary, then go get a projection light. They couldn’t be easier. One unit in the ground at the front of your house and you are done. Instant lights all over the front of your house!
Don’t wait though, last year the projection lights all sold out in record time, and it looks like they will be going fast again.
What is the first thing your guests see when they come over for a holiday event? Its not the hallway, the living room, the cramped spot to hang all of the coats…it's your front door! I spent my Saturday morning adding some festive cheer to my front door at the farm and here's how I did it!
I started by painting the door! (Even in cold weather!) Paint technology has come a long way when it comes to the minimum temperatures that you need to paint outdoors. In this case, I went with an outdoor paint that specifically stated that it was for cold weather and it dried beautifully in a balmy 4 degrees. I decided on a shade of black to really accent the red tones I wanted to bring in. Come spring, I may change it up, and add something less dramatic but because it only took me an hour to do, it’s not a big commitment
My friend Kelly made my beautiful wreath for me this year. She collected pinecones and glued it all together by hand. I think it’s stunning but this wreath also has a very important purpose, it adds warmth to my new black door. I am a huge fan of incorporating natural elements into a space. I find natural elements welcoming and perfect for a first impression
Twigs and boughs in the planters. These branches really are cuttings from my yard! I prefer to keep my planters on the lighter side when it comes to having them at the front door. I’m an advocate of less is more, which is why I went light but with a few pops of colour like my little cardinals.
Personalize. I added a few simple touches like Santa, my little chipmunk and my bearded gnome. These little accents not only fill the empty spaces around the door, they tell a story of what is going on inside. The front of your home should be included in your design plan for your entire space. Personalizing it creates a visual flow for your guests. (And who doesn’t love a cute gnome?)
Red, red, red! There is something about the shade of red that comes out around the holidays. I not sure if it’s the intensity of the sun, or just the lack of colour outside, but this scarlet ties the space together. Red in the bow, in the berries, even in the fun accents. It all works.
This holiday, do something special at the front door. Remember, not only is this the first thing your guests see when they arrive, the front door is the last thing they see when they leave after a great evening! Do something memorable this year!
As a landscaper designer, I’ve seen it all when it comes to outdoor home design and improvements; from backyard wastelands to jungles that got away. I’ve even heard every excuse in the book. So when did backyards become so intimidating?
Here are my 5 favourite excuses that people use when stuck in a gardening "rut."
“If I replace my lawn with gardens, I will have to spend more time in the backyard working.”
FALSE! The truth is grass requires more maintenance then any other outdoor feature (except kids of course!). A well-planned garden will use less water and require less weekly attention then the average lawn. The key is to have a garden that works in your location. Doing a little research will provide years of reward. Get your camera and take some pictures of what grows well in your neighbour’s yard. Take those to your favourite garden centre for a little insider information.
“I have a large tree and nothing grows under it.”
This really isn’t a challenge but an opportunity. Under a tree is the first place people want to sit in the hot summer months. Make this garden inviting using the following simple tips. Work with the roots of the tree instead of trying to compete with them. Plan the garden in the area between the roots, and think of them as your framework for designing the space. Using shade-loving plants sometimes isn’t enough, as they have to compete with the tree for water and nourishment. Plant your shrubs and perennials inside a larger pot in the ground, which allows them a chance to get established.
“It’s going to be expensive to make big changes.”
It’s true, landscaping is never cheap if done properly, but there are a few things to consider. A well-designed outdoor space holds its value when it comes to resale. Also, no one ever said that you had to do it all at once. Have a plan and work towards the yard of your dreams as the funds become available.
“I don’t have time to look after my outdoor space.”
Having the right tool for the job makes it so much easier. With new technology, gardening has never been so simple. Light weight, battery-operated, environmentally-conscious garden tools make all the difference. Gardening is supposed to be a pleasure, not a chore.
"My children need a place to play.”
Perfect… kids love to garden. Plan a space with your children that they can participate in. Let them help pick plants and create their own section of the yard. Remember, this is a garden for them to play in, and some things aren’t going to make it, but that’s okay. A garden is a great spot to spend the afternoon for the whole family.
The truth is, if you want to make a change in the way you use your outdoors; go for it! What’s really stopping you? The magical lure of the couch?