Decks and Patios

Lighting outdoor living areas lets you indulge your creative side. "Be flexible in your lighting plan," suggests Phil Kinzer, marketing manager of Intermatic Malibu in Spring Grove, Illinois. "Have fun with the project and let your imagination be your guide." Permanent fixtures should be installed where task lighting is needed and where safety is a concern. A low- or line-voltage floodlight mounted on a wall near the grill can help keep both dinner and the cook from being burned. Outlining elements like benches and stair risers with small strip or rope lights can prevent a tumble and add a decorative touch. Then there's the insect concern. They're attracted to bright lights, so pay attention to where you position lights. You can even try to lure insects into the trees by placing fixtures overhead rather than at knee level. Where such a compromise isn't possible, use a light that's specially designed to discourage these pests. GE makes a compact fluorescent bug bulb that has Energy Star certification. Keep in mind that alfresco events are often accompanied by a variety of temporary, decorative lighting -- candles, hurricane lamps, the occasional tiki torch. But to preserve the festive atmosphere, take care not to overlight the area. Dimmers let you adjust the light level over the course of the evening.
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