The Top 9 Dos and Don’ts of Outdoor Lighting

Image Provided by The Home Depot

Image Provided by The Home Depot

Most interior designers agree that lighting can really make or break a room, and the same can be said for outdoor lighting and the exterior of your home. Having a well-lit exterior not only increases safety and security, but also does wonders for your curb appeal. When your home’s façade has attractive and complementary outdoor light fixtures, you are sending a friendly and welcoming message to your guests and neighbors.

Backyard living spaces like decks and patios are no exception either. Before you buy your first lantern or sconce, read these essential do’s and don’t’s of outdoor lighting:


  • DO opt for LED fixtures. They use much less energy than incandescent bulbs, last longer and come in a variety of color temperatures. You no longer have to stick with the cool, bluish light of the original LEDs—they now come in warmer temperatures that give off a more yellow light, if you desire that look. LEDs also come in clear finishes rather than just frosted, so you can still achieve the elegant, sparkly look of exposed bulbs while remaining energy efficient.
  • DO choose fixtures with finishes that complement your home’s exterior color scheme. Bronzes go best with earth tones and brown trim and accents. Black is appropriate with most color schemes and white fixtures work well on houses that have darker bodies and white trim.
  • DO space out the light sources on your deck or patio. Several small fixtures with low wattage will always look better and create a more welcoming ambience than one fixture with a bright bulb.
  • DO stick with a mounting height that is slightly above eye level. A general rule of thumb is 66 in. above the threshold for the front of your house.
  • DO use post lanterns near your driveway. If light from the front door or garage fixtures does not extend the length of your driveway, post lanterns offer another source to warmly greet visitors.
  • DO your homework and research to find a consistent, quality line of lighting fixtures.

If you’re looking to reinvent your home’s exterior by upgrading your outdoor fixtures, consider a line of options like Progress Lighting’s wide selection of high-quality, energy-efficient exterior solutions. Their selection includes variety of fixture styles and finishes to meet design and budget goals of any scope.


  • DON’T choose fixtures that are too small. This is the most common mistake that homeowners make. Your front door should be the focal point of your home’s façade, so it should have the largest and most ornate fixture. If you use only one light fixture by the door, aim for one that is roughly 1/3 the height of the door, and if you use two, aim for 1/4 the door’s height.
  • DON’T use light bulbs with wattage that is too high. Using bulbs with 40-75 watts or the equivalent thereof is best for outdoor fixtures. Choose the wattage based on the fixture, but never use more wattage than you need because it could create glare and daunt your guests rather than welcome them.
  • DON’T skimp on light fixtures at the back door. They should be less important than the front door’s fixtures, but they should match the rest of your home’s lighting and not be too small.

*Sarah Kellner is a writer for The Home Depot. With a background in art and design, she writes on a wide variety of home improvement and decorating topics. To shop outdoor lighting options, visit the selection online.

ExxonMobil Spurs Growth: New Tomball & Klein ISD Schools + Master-Planned Communities

Reblog from by Jennifer Grassman

Northwest Houston is seeing incredible community growth. Tomball has seen a population increase of nearly 23% in 15 years, and things seem to be just ramping up. The influx of new residents has necessitated the building of new schools, shopping centers, roads, and neighborhoods, including some luxury residences that are absolutely stunningly.

Much of Northwest Houston’s growth can be attributed to ExxonMobil’s new North Houston location in Spring. The oil industry giant is constructing a state-of-the-art “campus” designed to accommodate 10,000 employees. Located off I-45 and The Hardy Toll Road, ExxonMobil Houston will serve as headquarters for all of the company’s Upstream, Downstream, and Chemicals companies, bringing an untold number of oil industry jobs to the area.

New Tomball & Klein ISD Schools

Over the next five years, Tomball ISD expects a whopping 3,700 new students. That’s almost 30% of their current enrollment. To accommodate, three new schools – Wildwood Elementary, Oakcrest Intermediate, and Creekview Elementary – are opening this August. A fourth school, Creekside Park Junior High, is slated to open in 2016.

But Tomball isn’t the only Texas ISD feeling the crunch.

Highly acclaimed Klein ISD is projecting that by 2020, five of their schools will be over capacity. In preparation, French Elementary opens its doors next month.

The as-yet-unnamed Elementary School No. 31 is set to open in 2016, with High School No. 5 to open in 2017. Plans for a Pre-Kindergarten school are also underway. In all, Klein ISD is investing $283,641,612 into building new schools and expanding existing locations.

Beautiful New Communities

The influx of new residents is also necessitating the development of new neighborhoods, and we’re not just talking cookie-cutter housing here. Some of the burgeoning communities in Northwest Harris County are incredibly upscale, ranging in value from $300,000 to over $1,400,000 per home.

In fact, the average value of homes in Tomball has risen dramatically from about $180,000 in 2012 to $360,000 in 2015.

Information via

One classy example of a new North Houston neighborhood is McKenzie Park. A master-planned community in Spring, it’s a quick 3 mile drive from ExxonMobil, and zoned for Klein ISD.

M/I Homes is among the builders developing McKenzie Park.

Among the builders developing McKenzie Park, M/I Homes is constructing some beautiful two-story houses, which include numerous lakefront properties. The homes boast sophisticated architecture, first floor masters, media rooms, designer touches, and fantastic spaces for Texas-sized entertaining.

Access to the community’s resort style swimming pool and splash pad is another amenity well worth noting.

More within the financial reach of upper-middle-class families, and zoned for Klein ISD, is Laurel Park, M/I Homes’ newest North Houston community. Within 10 miles of ExxonMobil, residents will enjoy quick access to 249, FM 2920, and the Grand Parkway. Laurel Park home prices range from $299,990 – $636,990.

With all these elegant new communities in construction, the whole northwest Houston area is expected to see a rise in property value, an increase in upscale shopping, and of course more funding for local charities, churches, and community initiatives from the new residents who are packing to move in.

An elegant interior view of “The Kathryn,” an M/I Homes model available in Houston area communities, including Laurel Park.

Love looking at model homes? View More M/I Homes Photos Here.


** Jennifer Grassman is a mother of two little girls, Jennifer Grassman is a writer, recording artist, and work-at-home mom. She publishes a Northwest Houston community magazine, The Pink Armadillo, and serves as Marketing Director for GeniSoft Water filtration systems.

3 Easy Ways in Installing Window Blinds

Alana Southwell is a DIY projects enthusiast and has written several articles about it as the lead content curator for All Weather Blinds. Her articles on home improvements are very helpful. In this post, she shares her expertise on how you can easily install window blinds by yourself.


If you want to keep your house or room a little more private and comfortable without getting too much of the laundry work, installing window blinds can be the best option that you can consider.

Window blinds are not only known for their various style and design but they also give shed and protection from direct sunlight and pollution from the outside environment.

Doing a DIY job for window blinds installation can be critical especially if it is your first time to do it.


There are various things that you may need to prepare ahead of time like hand drill, measuring device, drill bit and pen markers in order to make your installation process flow smoothly.

Aside from these materials, you also need to prepare your working area and the windows where blinds will be placed. Thoroughly clean your windows and check for any glass damage or lock in order to ensure that you will be getting the optimum quality of the blinds without any hindrance from the its wall and windows.

Going for Inside or Outside Mount

The first thing that you need to decide on is whether you would want to mount your blinds inside or outside of the window frame. How do they differ? And how to choose which one suits your house?

Going for outside mount can make your windows and the blinds as well appear larger. While if you hang your blinds on the inside frame, it will make them appear slimmer and would allow more light to enter on your room or house.

Measuring the Windows Frame

Once you decided whether to go for outside or inside mount, it is time to measure the window frames.

Measuring the frames should be done both vertically and horizontally. For an inside mount, always measure inside the casing or window frame and for outside mount, you should always place your measuring device on the outer edges of your windows frame.

Once measurement is done and you are confident enough on the results at hand, it is time to put your marking for drill holes where the head rail or the top most portion of the window blinds will be put in place.

As a rule of thumb, always allot ¼ inch past the head rail on each side of the casing in order to allow enough space for the valance and the plastic wand.

Installing the Brackets

Brackets serve as the support of the entire window blinds system. If your brackets are not installed and screwed properly, there might be a chance that your head rail will fall off balance or window blinds will not serve their main purpose of shedding your house or room from direct sunlight.

Brackets should be installed on each edge of the frame, one facing out (towards you) and the other one should face towards the centre of the window.

Attaching Blinds and Stilt Wand

Head rail and valance comes next after installing the bracket. Head rail should come first before the valance and position it to the best position where it should be balanced and secured.

After putting the window blinds, secure the blind wand by inserting its end on the hook located on the top portion of the blinds.

You can also adjust the length of the blinds based on your preference. Just make sure that the blinds are tied strong from the end of the string once the desired length is achieved

**Alana writes other helpful DIY improvement articles as the lead content curator for All Weather Blinds. She is also an enthusiast of arts and crafts wherein she has a lot of experiences. You can catch her via Twitter: @Alana_Southwell


Fourth Of July Party Inspiration

With the Fourth of July only a few days away, we know everyone is busy with party planning, so we figured it was only fitting to share our favorite patriotic party inspiration!


Finding the perfect outfit for the 4th of July is always fun and can be somewhat tricky! Depending on your budget, buying clothing specific to one day isn’t always practical, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make some DIY outfits for your family.

Onesie: This quick and easy onesie will be the perfect outfit for your child’s first 4th of July! Just grab fabric paint, a piece of cardboard for inside the shirt, a small brush and get started! Make sure you have your camera ready to document this fun activity with your loved ones!

4th of July Onesie


Everyone loves a good Tie Dye Shirt:  Tie Dye shirts are something fun and simple to do (they can be a bit messy, but totally worth it!)! You’ll want to set up your tie-dye station outside to keep from getting any dye on your carpets, furniture, etc.


4th Of July Tie-Dye Shirt


Fun and Easy 4th of July Snacks!

Flag Fruit:  Looking for a healthy and fun way to celebrate USA? This easy flag fruit dessert doesn’t take any time at all to make! Just grab cherries, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and white chocolate covered pretzels and all you have to do is arrange it on a platter!

4th of July Dessert


Want more chocolate?  Bake a chocolate cake and add white icing to the top of it. Then pick up a few bags of the red white and blue M&M’s and place them in the shape of a flag! This simple project just takes a little bit of patience!

Flag Cake


Dress up your Home

As your friends and family come up to the front door, welcome them with a patriotic door hanger as well as some candle lights with American Flags on them.

Patriotic Wreath:  Go to your local craft store to pick up the letter of your family’s last name – then create this adorable “wreath” to proudly display on your front door.   This fun activity will really dress up the front of your home, while providing a fun way to celebrate the 4th of July. Plus – you can use this again for Veterans Day, Memorial Day, etc!


4th of July Wreath


Mason Jar Candles:  Don’t know what to do with your left over mason jars or pickle jars laying around your home? With some American Flag stickers and some small candles, you can create an inviting porch display!

4th of July Decorations

Painted Lawn Stars:  If you’re going to have a backyard BBQ – why not decorate the yard with some USA pride? Grab some red, white and blue spray paint, a large piece of cardboard and scissors, and your backyard is minutes from Patriotic pride!

Painted Lawn Stars

We’d love to hear how your getting ready for the 4th of July. Feel free to share any great ideas / suggestions you have for party inspritation.

We hope you have a safe holiday weekend!

Awesome Landscaping Improvements for Summer

Is there anything better than a long summer day? Make the most of the sunshine and warm weather by upgrading your landscaping to make your home your favorite spot to hang out this summer. Fire up the grill, cut up some watermelon, and cool off with a frozen drink in your own personal outdoor oasis. Whether you decide to invite some friends over or curl up with a good book, just don’t forget your sunscreen! Here are some simple suggestions on how to upgrade your landscaping to make the most out of this summer.

Choose Plants that Thrive in Your Area to Create Lush Greenery

Your lawn may be in great shape, but how can you add to it this summer to really maximize your green space? If you are interested in a vegetable garden, Urban Farmer has a calendar that offers helpful suggestions for what to plant throughout the summer. Beans, beets, carrots, corn, herbs, melons, and peas all thrive in direct sunlight and warm weather. Summer is also a great time to plant perennials. They are on sale at most nurseries and with little attention (regularly prune dead leaves and flowers) will bloom well into the Fall. If your aim is to keep fresh flowers in your home try blanketflower, coreopsis, salvia, or bee balm (attracts hummingbirds). I also like to plant lavender, citronella, basil, and lemongrass as they are great at repelling pesky mosquitoes and no-see-ums.

Add a Natural Element to Your Walkways

Abandon the concrete slab for a more natural look. Consider creating a simple walking path through your garden or yard using mulch or gravel. Build a walkway with natural stone or small stepping stones that allow grass to come through adding a burst of color and a fun design. You may also want to build a charming garden arbor using repurposed wood–a great way to grow climbing plants that will also add some much needed shade on especially hot days. To make your own garden arbor, follow the instructions in this tutorial.

Outdoor Lighting

Make Game-Night Big!

Lawn games have come a long way from croquet and badminton. Giant DIY versions of Jenga, Twister, and Scrabble allow you to enjoy your favorite classic games with a larger group outdoors. Buzzfeed has a list of 27 DIY backyard games that will keep you and your family entertained all summer.

Incorporate a Water Feature

Whether or not you have a pool, you still may want to think about incorporating a water feature. Fountains and pondless waterfalls can add value to your home, while also drowning out the noise of street traffic and neighbors. The sound of a water feature can also help you unwind, while providing a welcoming space for bird, butterflies, and frogs to visit.

Install Lighting that Highlights Your Landscaping

Quality outdoor lighting is important to your home’s security. It makes your home look occupied and lived-in, even when you are on vacation or out for the evening, and it eliminates dark spaces that are attractive to would-be burglars looking for easy access to your home. Beyond that, outdoor lighting highlights your landscaping and means that backyard barbeques can continue well into the night. Tiki torches or mason jar lanterns can also add a festive element while repelling bugs.

Create Space to Linger

With all of the great plants, lighting, and games that you’re adding to your outdoor space, don’t forget to create a spot where you can relax and soak it all in. All you need is a comfortable chair and a flat surface for the newspaper, a book, and your morning cup of coffee. Simple pleasures have never felt so guilty!

Outdoor Relaxation Space


**Guest Blogger: Bryn Huntpalmer is a mother of two young children living in Austin, Texas where she currently works as an Editor for Modernize.


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