How to Choose Lighting for the Exterior of Your Home: The Entry, Porch, and Front Door

Outdoor lighting can be extremely tricky; of course, you want to create a welcoming entrance to your home, but you also want to be able to safely up the steps and from the inside clearly identify who’s coming to visit. Curb appeal is important, and your front porch sets the tone for how your guests view your house; and that includes your lighting. Lighting is one very important way to create a great first impression. 
A pair of wall sconces or lanterns alongside the entryway can complete the look you want.

Safety is of course also an issue and the right lighting is key to reducing trip hazards around your home. Wall lanterns create a warm welcome and are very important for that exact reason. Aside from that they are decorative, and add appeal. You should consider combining them with landscape, step and path lights for ideal illumination. 

Another benefit from outdoor lighting is the illumination it creates outside the windows. Keep the windows from becoming “black holes” when viewed from inside. Instead it visually extends the living areas to the outside. Lighting the secondary entrances to your home, like patio and kitchen doors, follow the same requirements as the front door, but there the focus might be primarily on safety paired with a comfortable patio light for outdoor entertaining.

Choose lights that fit the atmosphere and fit the style of your home. You’ll find thousands of styles, so be warned, it will be difficult to choose, but not impossible. Depending on the architecture of your home it might be possible to use wall sconces, lanterns, or lights mounted to or recessed into the ceiling; of course, you could also do a combination of both. 

With some minimal, clean, contemporary home designs it might be tempting to choose only recessed overhead lights. This can be a bad idea, for many reasons. However, if this is still the lighting of choice, consider combining it with indirect illumination of landscape features or architectural details nearby. One of the most important considerations when choosing wall sconces is size and proportions. 

Size matters. Most home owners tend to choose entry lights that are too small for the scale of the door and the wall they are attached to. With larger homes and taller ceilings, be bold. No matter how much you like a certain light, you need to choose one that would be suited for your house.

If you are using two sizes of sconces for your front door as well as your garage you’ll want to use the larger sconces at the front door, since this is where you want to create the focal point. The smaller sconces that flank the garage door shouldn’t draw too much attention to this less attractive area of your home. Patio lighting is also important, as they are extensions of homes. They don’t have to be grand to be effective.

Try a combination of wall sconces next to the entryway, some lights for areas that need special attention like changes in terrain and compliment these with twinkling strands of lights in nearby trees or indirect light sources that add atmosphere by accenting architectural features or parts of the surrounding landscape.


How to Properly, (and More Important, Safely) Install a Ceiling Medallion

If you would like to add a touch of elegance to your home without going broke, consider putting up a ceiling medallion. A decorative disk centered overhead can turn a plain expanse of drywall into an architectural focal point. And luckily, what was once made from heavy, fragile plaster is now available in molded polyurethane—lightweight, more forgiving, and much easier on the wallet. Afterward, be sure that you install a chandelier that matches with the aesthetic and style of the medallion.

The right ceiling medallion is as much about size as it is about style. After you’ve picked out a piece that won’t look too ornate or too simple next to your room’s other moldings, or the light fixture that will hang from it, buy it in a size that is in proportion to the room. A good rule of thumb is to divide the square footage of your room by 7 to get a rough diameter for your medallion.

But there are other factors to take into account. A medallion should be about the same diameter as the light fixture that will hang under it, but it can be smaller than a fan. A room with high ceilings can support a larger medallion because it will look well proportioned from farther away. Test different sizes by taping cardboard cutouts to your ceiling and standing back to see how each looks.

Most medallions on the market are polyurethane foam, even those labeled as plaster. You have to read the fine print to discover that they are not, in fact, real plaster. Foam medallions go up quickly and simply, with adhesive caulk and some finish screws. But beware: If you do have a real plaster medallion, this installation will not work because the plaster is too heavy for the adhesive caulk.

Traditionally, medallions pair with a chandelier. Their original purpose was to protect the ceiling from candle burns. To install one with a light fixture, the medallion must have a hole in the middle to allow access to the electrical wiring in the ceiling. The hole should be large enough to let you get at the entire junction box but small enough that the decorative plate, or canopy, of the light fixture will hide it. Some medallions come with the hole, but if yours doesn’t already have one you can cut one with a drywall saw.

Clean the ceiling around the fixture location to remove dust, dirt, and debris. If necessary, scrape away chipped paint or caulk from the old fixture. Always treat electrical wires as if they are live, and keep the ends protected with wire nuts as you work.

If your medallion does not already have a center hole, or if the hole is not big enough to allow access to the junction box in the ceiling, cut a new one. Center the fixture’s decorative cover plate, or canopy, on the face of the medallion. Lightly draw four reference marks around the edge of the canopy.

Keep a pure rubber sponge on hand so that you can clean up scuff marks on the medallion or the ceiling. Using a drill, drill a hole inside the circle. Insert the blade of a drywall saw into the hole and carefully cut along the marked circle. Then take a piece of medium-grit sandpaper, and smooth the inside edge of the circular cutout.

Hold the medallion in place so that it’s centered over the electrical box. Be sure that you can access the wires and the screw holes for the box’s hanging hardware through the hole. Enlarge the hole with sandpaper if necessary.

Check that the threaded bolt is long enough to reach from the junction box to the fixture with t
he medallion in place. Temporarily screw it into the mounting bar. Then hold the medallion against the ceiling while screwing the fixture’s canopy to the nipple, making sure you can tighten it on securely. Remove the medallion and paint it to match the ceiling or the trim in the room. Let it dry.

Turn the medallion facedown and, using a caulk gun, apply a bead of adhesive caulk over the entire back. Stick the medallion in place on the ceiling, centering it over the junction box. While the adhesive is wet, screw the canopy to the nipple and tighten it enough to act as a clamp to hold the medallion to the ceiling. Adjust the medallion as necessary to be sure the canopy is perfectly centered. 

Using a drill, drive two trim-head screws through the medallion and into the ceiling to hold it in place while the adhesive sets. For large medallions, use more screws. Drive the screws in a discreet location in the medallion’s pattern, and let them sink a little below the surface to hide them. Remove the canopy.

Fill the screw holes with a dab of caulk, and caulk around the edge of the medallion if there are any obvious voids between it and the ceiling. When the caulk is dry, touch up the screw holes with paint. Also touch up the ceiling if necessary. Install the light fixture, and voila!

Things to Keep in Mind When You Are Choosing a Carpet For Your Foyer Hall

A foyer, entrance hall, entryway. The entrance to your front door is called by many names, and it isn’t always easy to decorate. This can be particularly true for rugs, because you must consider not only the natural elements, but also the style of your home, and tastefully merge the two. Below is a guide in choosing the entryway rug that is right for you:

1. Make sure the size of the rug is in proportion to the size of the entryway. A small 2’x3′ rug in a giant entryway will look miniscule. Conversely, a larger 5’x7′ rug in an entryway that is barely that big itself will probably look too big for its britches. Although foyers come in every shape and size, be conscientious that the scale of your rug will be complementary to the scale of the space.

2. Open and close your door several times and note the space between the bottom of the door and your entryway floor. Although you might love the feel of thick shag between your toes, the constant rub of a door’s opening and closing will significantly decrease the life of the rug. Plus, thick-pile rugs are harder to keep clean at a doorway; thinner piles tend to be hardier. Always leave a sufficient vertical air gap between your rug and the door. 

3. Consider the ease of cleaning your dream rug. As an obvious example, an all-white cotton rug might be beautiful to look at for a day or two, it won’t be easy to keep lustrous and bright for much longer than that. Plan on snow, mud, dirt, and/or water (depending on where you live) to come into contact with your entryway rug; even if your home has a no-shoes policy, it is likely that people will take a step or two inside in order to take their shoes off. Indoor/outdoor rugs, which are typically made of synthetic materials are a great option.

4. Patterned rugs can be very forgiving. Not only does the well-chosen pattern add visual interest to a space (which is often the most important determining factor but at very least a bonus), but it also hides dirt and grime temporarily until you have a chance to clean the rug. For most entryways I find that, all else being equal, multiple colors and an interesting pattern extend the aesthetic life of a rug much longer than if the rug were of a simple, solid design. 

5. Of course, all of this isn’t to say you should throw your entire sense of style out the window because your entryway rug needs to have all of these components. As one of the first things seen upon entering your house, the entryway rug is arguably one of the most important decorating decisions you can make. You want to make sure it correctly introduces your Does it introduce your design aesthetic, your personality, and your home? Does it give the visitor an idea of what s/he will find inside? Be true to your sense of style in selecting an entryway rug, as this will play a big role in your home’s first impression.

Extra tips
Use a rubber pad underneath the rug to prevent it from slipping. This way it will stay fixed and you don’t have to worry about a thing. First measure the length and width of the rug and then lay the rubber or vinyl nonstick pad on a flat, clear surface. Measure and cut it, locate the position you want for your entryway rug and lay the pad on the floor. Then put the rug on top. If you have a double front door then you have to select a rug that lies in front of both doors. A smaller rug will simply look tiny and less welcoming, not to mention it’s not practical at all.

The shape of the rug is also important. Choose a rectangular one if you have a long and narrow entry or if the space is wide and shallow. This way you can better define the entryway. Round rugs are very elegant can be used for arched front doors or double-stair entryways.



Option Overload: How to Finally Choose a Washer and Dryer Among Thousands of Choices

Buying a washer and dryer isn’t really anyone’s idea of fun. After all, most of us don’t like doing laundry. And most of us complain about our washer and dryer, no matter how much we spent on it, or if it was the “latest and greatest” model. Doing laundry is widely accepted as an overall nuisance. However, its a purchase that has to be made. These appliances can be extremely expensive and run over $1,000 even with a base, cheaper model. So, the question. Do you get a stacked set, a top or front load, do you want an all in one? Here are some questions you should ask yourself, and some pitfalls to avoid running into. 

Tip: It’s all in the way you plan to use them
The type of washer and dryer you get will depend largely on where it’s going to go in your home. For example, laundry might be allocated to a narrow closet in your home, making your only option a stackable. These units tend to be smaller, meaning you still might need to visit the Laundromat to wash big comforters. Dryers are available as gas or electric, so which you purchase will be a result of what your house supports.

For those who have a basement setup or dedicated laundry room where there’s room to place them side-by-side, you’ll need to decide on the size and if you prefer a top-load or front-load washer. These machines tend to be larger, and are up to 5.1 cubic feet (an can handle 20 pounds of laundry in a single load). A compact machine is up to 3.0 cubic feet (about 12 pounds of laundry in one load). They can take larger amounts, including big comforters. Essentially, do you want to open a door on top of the machine or in front? Top-loaders are less expensive, but front-loaders are more efficient, are gentler, and have been found to clean better. 

No law says you need a washer and dryer from the same manufacturer. Mixing them up is fine. The washing bins on top-loaders are so deep that it may be hard for shorter people to reach the bottom to retrieve clothes. When shopping, open the top and see if you can touch the bottom. If you have to lean in too much and you find yourself on your tip toes, a top-loader probably isn’t for you. Do you really want to stand on your toes to do laundry for the next 10 years? Many top-load models today have foregone the inner agitator (the big spinning rod inside the machine) for a hollow bin. Some even have a stainless steel tub. The benefit of these is that they can handle higher spin speeds. Ultimately, this means it will take less time for your clothes to dry.

Front-loading machines tend to be more expensive and have a ton of features, even on the most basic models. Many of the new washers have sensors in them that you’ll want to be sure to wipe dry once in a while to keep them in good working order. Some models could potentially attract mold.

The other issue to consider is bending down to open the doors. Of course, the manufacturers took this into consideration and offer pedestals the washer and dryer can be placed upon, making them taller and much easier to use. They typically have drawers underneath for storing detergent and fabric softener. Unfortunately, these are not included in the price usually will cost you an extra few hundred bucks. Another thing to consider when buying a washer and dryer, whether stackable or front-loading, is the doors.

Typically, the dryer door can be switched to open in a different direction. However, almost all washer doors will open left to right. Older homes may have the hook-ups reversed; in which case you would want to be able to change the door on the washer so you can easily transfer clothes between the two machines. 

You can hire a local handyman or plumber to remove old appliances and install new ones. Washer and dryers are big appliances. You might be wondering if you’ll be able to get them into your home easily. Regardless of the type of machines you end up purchasing, be sure to account for an extra six inches behind the washer and dryer for the hook-ups. This will help you decide how well the units will fit in their allotted space.

You can still get washer and dryers that have only a few wash and dry cycles. Getting one of these options will definitely keep the price down. Many of the newer models, especially front loaders, come with so many options you’ll need to spend some time with the manual to learn about them all. Sales people will talk you through the highlights, but to know what all of those buttons and settings accomplish will take some time.