Decorating & Design - Design Lesson

Design lesson: Outdoor holiday decorating

Make your house the most attractive on the block with our festive lighting and accessories tips.

As far back as I can remember, the task of decorating the outside of our house at Christmastime fell to me and my dad. With zeal I directed my father to hang greenery and ornaments across the entire roofline and over the porch of our modest bungalow. To my child's eye, only yards of red, yellow, blue and green coloured lights (the embodiment of holiday cheer) could compensate for a lack of snow (pretty likely in southern California, where we were living). For the record, my husband maintains that 25 years later my dictatorial approach has changed very little. Here is some well-seasoned advice for bringing holiday cheer to your home's exterior.

Just as grocery shopping with a list can prevent costly impulse buys and oversights, it's wise to prepare a plan of action before you ascend the ladder with lights in hand. Here are five tips for effectively lighting your home's exterior.

1 Take a photograph of the façade of your home and draw in your ideas with a marker. Try several options before settling on one. With a detailed plan, you can accurately calculate your lighting requirements.

2 Make sure lights are working before you hang them. If you are combining lights and greenery, save a step by wrapping garlands with lights before stringing them up.

3 Use the architecture of your home as a guide. Follow roof lines, windowsills, and other significant elements, such as window boxes or a gazebo. Your goal is to highlight those existing shapes, not work against them.

4 Create a pleasing vignette by lighting several trees or shrubs (a group of three is appealing). Vary the bulb size to suit each plant. For every foot of tree, use at least a 100-count strand of lights and weave it in and out of tree branches, creating layers of light that emanate from within.

5 Highlight any evergreens with coloured floodlights in crisp white or seasonal green. (Avoid red lights for this purpose, since they make green trees appear muddy.)

This article is featured on Holiday decorating ideas and Christmas decorating ideas

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