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Sprucing Up for Christmas

As Christmas draws near, use some nifty tricks to brighten up and decorate your home for a more welcoming ambience.

by / Published: 12 Dec 2012

Sprucing Up for Christmas

When it comes to decorating with lights for the holidays, there are unlimited ways to add twinkle to the inside as well as the outside of your home. Some people favour an elegant, restrained sprinkling of lights around a door, while others go for a more exuberant display of illumination on virtually every surface. Here are some holiday lighting tips and ideas that might create a perfect balance this Christmas.

Make your home's entrance a priority.
The front door is more than just the entryway into your home; it is also a welcoming first impression for family and friends. You can start by adding a few, easy-to-install landscape lights to highlight trees and shrubs, or path lighting to illuminate the garden.

'Tree lighting uses the heights of trees to spread the light out in a soft and subtle way to bathe the area in light,' says Richard Lentz, owner of a lighting company.

Do-it-yourself tip: Go for low-voltage landscape lights, which are easy to install and consume less energy.

Add drama with colour-changing lights.
Newer LED lights can add custom colour scenes that complement a specific holiday decorating mood. You can produce the exact ambiance you like at any moment during your party or gathering this season. Colours can be changed at the push of a button without changing the fixture, making these products useful all year round.

Use lighting to create a focal point. Lights can draw attention to virtually anything – a centrepiece, buffet, unusual decoration – which helps guests know where to focus their eyes.

Add portable spotlights as highlights.
These small, inexpensive fixtures typically work with a tabletop dimmer and can create pretty silhouettes, particularly under a Christmas tree, shining up through the branches.

Illuminate corners.
When decorating with lights for the holidays, make your space feel larger by placing spotlights in room corners to illuminate dark spaces.

Swap out lighting accents.
Replacing a neutral lampshade with one that is red or gold will soften the light and create a pretty atmosphere when decorating with lights for the holidays. Replace a chandelier's crystal teardrops with gold, silver or red glass balls, or add a few shade charms, available at many craft stores, to add some sparkle and fun.

'One of the great things about this time of year, when there are a lot of festive gatherings, is that it is all right to break away from a few traditions and try some new things with lighting and decorating,' says Bruce Hathaway, sales manager for a lighting manufacturer.

Check your dimmers.
Dimmers are ideal for creating that perfect look, regardless of the season, because they allow for the general lighting to play a supporting role.

Update your guest bathroom.
'It's often the smallest room, yet if you measure the worth of the bathroom by the amount of traffic a room gets per square foot, the guest bathroom room could easily be the most valuable space in your house,' says Rick Wiedemer, owner of a lighting company. A few simple, extra touches, such as a portable lamp with a coloured shade, will make a huge impact.

Try novelty lights.
Consider themed novelty lights for a bit of fun when decorating for any holiday. 'Try string lights in shapes or LED crystal lights on a festive mantle,' says Edward Cook, president of a speciality lighting company.
As you prepare to celebrate the holidays, welcoming loved ones into your home is a highlight of the festivities. You may eagerly look forward to gathering with family and friends, but is your house holiday and houseguest ready?

Preparing your home for holiday guests doesn't have to be time consuming or costly. By focusing on areas that receive the most guest traffic, you can create a fresh, welcoming environment within budget. The home improvement experts at Lowe's recommend updating five key spaces:

1. Entryways
Start by making a great first impression and setting the mood by enhancing the entryway and improving curb appeal. By adding a new doormat and painting the front door an inviting, rich jewel tone, you'll be sure to make a statement year round about the personalities inside your home upgrades. The foyer is the perfect spot to add a dramatic pendant light or chandelier to welcome guests with a warm glow. Add some festive holiday decor by layering a centerpiece of seasonal flowers paired with decorative pinecones on a foyer table to recreate a look back home that combines two popular seasonal standbys. Roomier entryways can benefit from a decorative urn filled with a variety of greens.

2. Kitchens
The kitchen is the hub of the home, especially during the holidays. Giving this room a refresh can be quick and easy, regardless of budget. Painting is one of the simplest, most cost effective ways to completely change the look of a space. Experiment with rich, food- and-spice inspired hues that will provide an appealing backdrop for holiday decor and remain relevant when the seasons change.

It is easier than ever to change the look of countertops and cabinets. While you are swapping out knobs and drawer pulls, consider giving tired laminate countertops a coat of paint. Add a new backsplash in ceramic tile or natural stone, or go quick and easy with peel-and-stick metal tile that evokes the look of classic tin.

3. Guest bathroom
After the kitchen, the guest bathroom will likely see the most holiday traffic. These rooms - usually smaller than master bathroom – will benefit from a simple de-cluttering. Quick updates like adding new cabinet hardware and coordinating accessories like soap dishes, lotion dispensers, toothbrush holders, shower curtains and towels are easy ways to refresh these small but important areas.

The holidays are also a great time to update items you can enjoy for the rest of the year, such as lighting and faucets, new mirrors, paint or wallpaper.

4. Guest bedroom
After days filled with festivities, your guests will appreciate a comfortable place to rest. Get guest bedrooms ready for visitors by clearing out closet space, adding freshly laundered blankets and providing plenty of pillows. Keep in mind the importance of a variety of lighting options in this room. A bedside table lamp may be great for night-time reading but overhead lighting will be helpful when dressing, applying makeup or wrapping last-minute gifts.

Simple decor projects like new area rugs and window treatments can have a big impact on the room. If the guestroom is small, adding some decorative mirrors can help the area feel more expansive. Updating the old ceiling fan can dramatically alter the look of any space, plus aid in airflow. Finally, polish off the holiday look with in-season flowers or plants—they are welcoming and warm and make a great gift to send guests home with once their visits end.

5. Living room
Guests will also congregate in the living room. Fortunately, some simple cosmetic changes go a long way toward making this room warm, comfortable and inviting. Changing accent pillows, throws and window treatments to seasonal patterns and colours are a great way to start.
Don't overlook the Christmas tree. Positioning a tree in front of a window allows your holiday spirit to shine through to the outdoors. Just remember to keep trees away from any heat sources. With some creativity and planning, you can get your home ready to welcome holiday guests - just in the nick of time.

With the holidays drawing close, your home will soon be the centre of attention when entertaining guests from near and far. From creating a festive atmosphere to feeding friends and family, it's important to plan ahead for a hassle-free holiday season everyone will enjoy.
 

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