Thursday, June 24, 2021

Three Rules of Outdoor Lighting for The Deck & Beyond

You have probably heard about the rules for successful indoor lighting: using a mix of ambient, task, and accent lighting. But do you know about the rules of outdoor lighting for a deck and beyond? Lighting in the great outdoors has three similar categories: basic, safety/security, and atmosphere. As you think about what needs illuminating in your outdoor environment, keep these categories in mind and you’ll end up with a well-lit space. 

From outdoor lighting for a deck to landscape lighting, here are some ideas to get you started.

Lighted garden pathway with bollard lights.

Rule #1 Start with Basic Outdoor Lighting

Start with the spaces that need basic lighting like your dining area or outdoor kitchen. These areas need ambient lighting that sheds lots of light around a large space. 

Flood Lights

Flood lights are champs at illuminating large areas with a high level of brightness and a large range of coverage. They are generally attached to the house and can easily be turned on and off with a switch. 


Spotlights are the smaller but equally as powerful sister of flood lights. They shed light over large to medium spaces and can be used for lighting up areas where you need plenty of light but might not be right next to the house. 

Spotlights can also be used to highlight areas of the landscape you want to draw attention to like a formidable tree or yard sculpture. 

Outdoor Chandeliers & Lamps

Bring all the comforts of the indoors outside with large-scale lighting over the dining area. Exterior-grade chandeliers or pendant lights over the picnic table takes the whole space up a notch. 

Outdoor lamps have the same effect. Built to withstand the elements, these lamps shed some light on a smaller scale and create a cozy atmosphere while increasing the total illumination.

Step lighting on a deck provides a safer environment in the dark.

Rule #2 Don’t Forget Outdoor Lighting for Safety & Security

Next consider areas that might pose a risk in the dark, like steps, edges, or corners. These need some lighting to keep you and your guests safe as you move around your outdoor space. This kind of lighting is direct light exactly where you need it. It won’t disturb the neighbors (like flood lights might) and can be left on all the time. 

In fact, it’s a good idea to keep some of this type of lighting on every night for security purposes. The more lighting you have in your outdoor space, the more you’ll deter intruders and critters. 


In simple terms, up lights are medium-sized lights that direct light upward. Downlights point the light down. Both are used to increase more direct light where it’s needed most. They are used to great effect against a house or fence where they boost overall security. Get creative with your up and downlights to make mood lighting as well. 

Use spotlights or in-floor/in-ground recessed lighting to point light up. Employ landscape lights with hoods or side-mount deck lights to point light down.

Step Lights & More

The most important outdoor lighting for a deck is lighting steps and other areas that may pose a risk in the dark. There are lots of ways to decrease that risk. Deck lighting can be mounted to the sides of railing or posts. Add post cap lights on top of your deck posts or fence posts. 

Light up steps and stairs with lights on the stair risers. These come with louvers so you can direct light downward and keep it out of the eyes. 

A pergola lit with string lights.

Rule #3 You’re Not Done Until You Have Atmosphere Lighting

Atmosphere or mood lighting not only adds light to your overall scheme, but it does it with flair. This is the lighting that adds style and personality to your outdoor space. Whether you add light to the landscape, light a tiki torch, or string up a few Edison bulbs, you create that festive feeling that will make you want to stay in the backyard all summer long.

Bollard & Landscape Lights

Bollard lights are short posts with lights on top. They don’t have a shield or cover and shine light in all directions. They are great for lighting up a path or edging a flower bed. They add plenty of panache and serve to make your area more navigable.

Landscape lights are a broad category. They include anything you can use to enhance your landscape from spotlights to deck lights. It may not be necessary to light up your landscape (nobody’s going to be tiptoeing through your tulips), but they add considerable style and depth to your outdoor space. Those flower beds should add to the ambiance both day and night.

String & Rope Lights

String lights feature bare bulbs on an electrical wire. They are the superhero of outdoor lighting for a deck. You can hang them in any arrangement for either atmosphere or functional light. They are easy to get and are one of the most affordable ways to add some mood. 

The larger Edison bulb types are pricier but offer more light. You can keep it simple and pick up a few extra strands of holiday lights to get the same effect. Consider using colored lights too.

Tape lights are the high-tech sister of string lights. They are LED lights embedded in a flat plastic “tape”. They are easy to conceal and even easier to install. The best part about tape lights is the control you have over them. Get smart tape lights with wifi that you can control from an app on your phone. You can change the color, dim the lights, cycle through different lights, turn them on and off . . . the list goes on.

Decorative Lighting

Add some decorative lighting at eye level to spruce up your outdoor space. Lanterns or candles on the table, tiki torches around the patio, lighted orbs, delicate patterned tin lanterns or even paper lanterns all add mood. 

Did you ever consider that a firepit is technically lighting? Let it figure into your plan too. Small gas firepits come in many shapes, sizes, and styles. There’s one for every outdoor design. 

With so many outdoor lighting ideas for a deck, it’s only a matter of making a plan and getting started. Turn your backyard into a haven you won’t want to leave, especially after the sun goes down.

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Monday, June 14, 2021

The Practical Father’s Day Gift Guide

A dad enjoying a luxurious bathtub.

 He’s always there when the car breaks down. He’s always got a dumb joke up his sleeve. He’s happy to spot you a $20 (or $50) whenever you need it. Dad is worth celebrating but if you are tired of getting him a tie or another golf shirt, then it’s time to think outside the box. If you’re looking for a gift he can really appreciate, one he can use, we have some ideas. 

Robe Hook

A stylish, well-placed robe hook is something Dad can use and appreciate every day. Bathroom robe hooks in brushed nickel are popular and go with most existing hardware and faucets in the bathroom. Select one with clean lines and substantial design for a style your dad will love.

Packing Cubes

They may be ultra practical, but for the traveling Dad, packing cubes allow him to pack more efficiently, and you know how he is about efficiency. These little packages let him pack clothes or other soft items then shrink them down using vacuum air removal or a series of zippers. The result is a compressed cube that frees up space in his suitcase.

A fog-free, lit mirror in a white bathroom.

Fog Free Bathroom Wall Mirrors

If your dad loves a steamy shower or bath, a fog-free mirror may be just what he needs. These aren’t your regular bathroom mirrors. They are heated so moisture won’t condense on them when the bathroom gets steamed-up. You can also find them with built-in LED lighting. Available in all sizes for any bathroom.

Beard Balm

Beards are in, so if you have a hip dad, a beard balm could be just the thing he needs. Beard balms are essentially leave-in conditioners that moisturize, soften, and style a beard. Some types can promote growth. Help your dad keep his beard healthy and looking fabulous.

A heated towel rack in a large bathroom.

Heated Towel Rack - Wall Mounted

A towel warmer is the pinnacle of luxury in the bathroom. Give some of that luxury to Dad with a heated towel rack. Wall mounted versions are pretty much plug and play. You can select either electrically heated or water heated, but electric options heat faster and more efficiently.


We’re not talking about your usual Swiss Army Knife here. Look for a multi-tool that has several knives (straight edge and serrated), pliers, wire cutters, metal/wood files, and screwdrivers. They also come in different finishes like wood or carbon fiber.

A shower spa in a large glass shower.

Shower Spa

It’s a jetted tub, steam room, and rain shower all in one. The shower spa gives Dad all the perks of a spa right in his own bathroom. These aren’t just shower heads, but panels with body jets, pivoting shower arm, adjustable massaging sprays, temperature controls, and more. It’s perfect for a little relaxing hydrotherapy. 

BBQ Grill Tool Set

Every grill master needs a good set of tools. The long handled spatulas, tongs, and specialty tools let your dad do his thing whether he’s grilling burgers or smoking salmon.

Luxury Bathtub

A fancy bathtub is more than just a deep tub with some water jets. These high-tech tubs offer luxuries like air jets, heating zones, acupressure massage, consistent water temperature throughout a bath, electronic controls, even chromatherapy (calming colored lighting).

Car Care Kit

If your dad is a car lover, he’ll enjoy a care kit that helps him clean, polish, and perfect his car. Find a set that includes cleaning products and implements for paint, wheels, bumpers, and interior.

High-Tech Washlet

The washlet offers the experience of a bidet without adding one to the bathroom. All you have to do is replace the toilet seat. These Japanese toilet seats not only wash and dry, but they can also heat the water, light the toilet bowl, and clean/deodorize the toilet. Electronic controls and remote controls allow Dad to get the treatment he wants or even program it for his specifications.

Head Lamp

A head lamp is the perfect gift for the dad who doesn’t stop for anything—even darkness. They come in several types, including hat mounted lights or headband types. Especially fun, is the ball cap light that has lights under the brim.

Game Lighting

Whether your dad likes to spend leisure time playing poker or pool, a little mood lighting makes a great practical gift for Father’s Day. Get billiard lighting or track lighting to go over the pool table. Or try a pendant or sleek chandelier to go over the poker table.

If All Else Fails . . .

If none of the above strike your fancy, you can go somewhat less practical and try an item of the month club. Dad might enjoy a beer, cigar, jerky, jam, sirloin, cheese, bacon, pizza, ice cream, cake, coffee, or even necktie of the month subscription.

Treat your dad to something practical this Father’s Day. Practical gifts keep giving month after month and year after year. They say “I love you, dad” every time he uses them. 

Find more practical gifts for every occasion. 

Friday, June 11, 2021

10 Top Bathroom Vanity Brands

 Visually and functionally, everything in the bathroom revolves around the vanity. It also sets the tone for the bathroom. It can be sleek and modern, elegant and traditional, or somewhere in between. Whatever your future plans for the bathroom, be sure you check out these top 10 bathroom vanity brands and get your bathroom headed in the right direction.

Modern vanity by Fresca sets this bathroom apart.


Fresca believes that the bathroom is the most important room in the house. That is reflected in the quality, durability, and cutting-edge designs they produce. Enhance the beginning and the end of each day with a Fresca vanity.

Shop Fresca

Medium white furniture look vanity by James Martin in a white tiled bathroom.

James Martin 

At the forefront of innovation and quality, James Martin is dedicated to achieving the highest quality standards with an emphasis on design and durability. The designs sway toward furniture-look in classic yet fresh colors.

Shop James Martin

Sleek, mid-century modern styling in this Avanity vanity.


Avanity’s designs stem from functionality. They respond to what their customers need most: innovative product, compelling design, and quality workmanship. Look for traditional, contemporary, transitional, and Americana detailing in these vanities.

Shop Avanity

Simple and rustic, this vanity by Fairmont Designs adds style to this chic bathroom.

Fairmont Designs

Fairmont Designs has been creating products that stir the imagination and bring your home to life for over 30 years. They embrace the gambit of design styles so there is something for everyone. 

Shop Fairmont Designs

Modern, clean lines define this dark gray vanity by Robern.


A leader in residential storage, Robern pioneered development of the personal vanity with stylish designs, attractive finishes, and innovative features.

Shop Robern

Chevron styled wall mount vanity by Native Trails in a warm wood color.

Native Trails

Luxury living with a positive impact is at the heart of Native Trails products. They work with artisans all over the world to handcraft bathroom products that are not only beautiful but have a small ecological footprint. 

Shop Native Trails

A simple white vanity with spare styling by Laufen.


A traditional Swiss brand, these vanities reflect a symbiosis of design, quality, and functionality.  They also value water as a precious resource and create products that help preserve natural resources.

Shop Laufen

Classic styling in deep blue, this vanity by Hardware Resources is a winner in this white and blue bathroom.

Hardware Resources

Hardware Resources specializes in furniture-style vanities. Their commitment to quality, integrity, and reliability is reflected in their products. Their focus on customer satisfaction makes them unique.

Shop Hardware Resources

A curvy, sensual vanity in white gloss by La Toscana makes this bathroom special.

La Toscana

Founded in 1954 by Italian brothers, La Toscana is a world-renowned brand. It is acclaimed for its  fine bathroom tub, sink, and shower faucets.  

Shop La Toscana

A rustic wood vanity by Ronbow stands out in this sage green bathroom.


Luxury and affordability are at the center of everything Ronbow does. Though the two values seem contradictory, they have found a way to deliver the sleekest modern lines at prices that bring luxury into your grasp.

Shop Ronbow

Take a look at one of these top bathroom vanity brands and introduce affordable luxury into your bathroom.

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Saturday, June 5, 2021

5 Tips for Making Faucets More Water Efficient

Water saving bathroom faucet with custom sink design.
Brizo Vettis Wall Mount Bathroom Faucet

Did you know that 20% of your household’s daily water usage comes from the faucets in your house? Surprisingly, it isn’t the big appliances, like the washing machine or the dishwasher, that use the most water. The average U.S. home uses 138 gallons of water from the tap every day. Anything you can do to reduce that water consumption is a drop in the proverbial bucket of water conservation. 

Maybe you’ve already replaced your old, water-hog appliances. Hopefully you’ve updated your toilets to the low-flush variety that use less than two gallons of water per flush (instead of 5-7 gallons). If not, it’s a cost-effective change that can save lots of water day-to-day, and money in the long run.

Is there more you can do? Yes! Time to put a dent in that 138 gallons of water coming out of your faucets every day. 

Making faucets more water efficient can go a long way to creating a home that’s more environmentally friendly. Here are five simple things you can do.

Conserve water with this Brizo efficient faucet.Brizo Odin 16 5/8" Kitchen Faucet

1. Install Low-Flow Faucets

Low-flow faucets put out less water without sacrificing water pressure. They use just 1.5-2.5 gallons per minute. You can reduce water usage by up to 60% simply by installing low-flow faucets. 

There are two basic mechanisms that reduce water output without impacting performance too much: aerators and laminars. They help make faucets more water efficient.


An aerator mixes air into the water stream which creates a bunch of tiny water streams flowing together. It maintains the pressure you’re used to without wasting all that water. The water flow has a “soft” feel and doesn’t splash much. The flow coming out of the faucet looks white because of the amount of air mixed into it.

You can replace your faucet with one that has an aerator, or you can add an aerator to your current faucet and get the same result. 


Laminar faucets produce excellent pressure with less water by forcing the water through larger, but fewer openings. Think of your showerhead and how it has large, individual streams of water—that’s the general idea of the laminar. It does not add air to the flow. Laminar systems produce flow that looks clear (as opposed to the white look of aerated flows) and feels less “soft” to the touch. It can produce a bit more splash because of the lack of incorporated air.

Like an aerator, you can also simply add a laminar to your existing faucet or install a new faucet with the laminar feature built in. You may also want to consider a combination aerator/laminar that helps you boost water efficiency even more. Or go with a multiple laminar, which directs water in a wider pattern to provide better coverage without having to use more water.

Motion sensor kitchen faucet saves gallons of water.Moen Arbor 15 1/2" Motion Sensor Kitchen Faucet

2. Try Water Conservation Motion Faucets

One of the best things you can do to save water is to not let the faucet run when you’re not using it. Sounds obvious, but did you turn the faucet off while you brushed your teeth this morning? Did you let the water run while you washed the dishes? Was your shower this morning unnecessarily long? It’s easy to forget how much water can be wasted when we leave the tap on. 

One simple way to get rid of this problem is to install water conservation motion sensor faucets. These detect motion and turn on automatically then turn off after a short period of time. You don’t have to worry about turning the faucet off and on while your hands are all soapy. You can zone out while brushing your teeth but never waste water while doing it. 

A leaky bathroom faucet can waste gallons of water every day.

3. Stop Leaks

Leaky plumbing is a water hog. If you have a leak(s), it accounts for at least 13% of your daily water consumption. That’s a whopping 18 gallons a day. Some leaks are obvious. Drippy faucets are easily repaired or replaced with newer, high-efficiency faucets. Other leaks can be more difficult to detect. 

For instance, toilet leaks from the tank to the bowl are very hard to detect. Try adding some food coloring to your tank. If there is a leak, the color will start to appear within about 15 minutes. Be sure to flush after your test so you don’t stain the tank.

Leaky plumbing will not only wreak havoc on your water consumption but it can potentially damage cabinets, floors, and more. 

Dark metal bathroom faucet with the WaterSense label.Brizo Sotria 5 3/8" Lavatory Faucet with WaterSense Certification

4. Buy Products with the WaterSense Label

You’ve seen the “EnergyStar” label that helps you identify products that meet requirements for decreased energy consumption. Have you seen the “WaterSense” label? You’ll find it on products that meet EPA requirements for water efficiency. They use at least 20% less water than regular models. 

With only about 1% of the Earth’s water available for human consumption, shortages are a real concern. WaterSense aims to promote a national “ethic of water efficiency” so that waste water can be reduced and  the water supply can be protected for future generations.

5. Use Cold Water

Water heating takes a lot of energy. It uses as much (or more) energy as your electronics, lighting, or large appliances. Likewise, it takes a lot of water to make electricity. When you save energy, you save water. Using cold water helps you do this. 

Try using cold water for brushing your teeth and washing your clothes. Set your water heater thermostat to a lower temperature. Install a temperature limiter or temperature control faucets. Even if you have your water heater set higher, you can control temperature on faucets where hot water isn’t necessary. 

Do something good. Take the first step toward water conservation by making faucets more water efficient. Every drop of water saved makes a difference. 

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