Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Lighting Up The Outdoors

Our interior design firm is seeing an increase of outdoor living spaces that are more like living rooms than patios, and outdoor lighting and lamps have taken on a new look and importance. These functional accessories are practical in outdoor living areas, particularly those with dining areas, where families gather to play games, or watch television.

More unique styles of outdoor lamps are available than ever before, adding to the effect of extending the indoors to the outdoors. This is particularly important in the Palm Desert, Rancho Mirage, and Palm Springs areas, as interior design has spread to the great outdoors.

In selecting outdoor lighting, think of what activities you will need to illuminate. Are you dining outside? Are you playing cards? Do you like to read? Are you just curling up in front of your fire ring and watching the stars? You will also need to keep in mind if you outdoor living space is fully exposed to the elements or is under a roof where there will be open shade during the day.

An outdoor lamp base should be made of metal, ceramic, or a durable resin or plastic that can withstand the extremes in temperature, even if the lamp is to be placed under an overhang. Likewise, the shade must have a metal frame that can withstand high temperatures, and should be covered with a sunbrella/outdoor fabric that can also withstand high heat and direct sunlight without fading.

Make sure that the base is heavy enough to stay in place during high winds or is properly secured. Tall outdoor lamps and table lamps are likely to end up in the swimming pool- as items in the yard often do in the Palm Desert/Rancho Mirage area (those windmills are there for a reason, folks!).

Before you purchae a fixture, check that the lamp that you select is UL rated for outdoor use and is waterproof. A lighting store should be able to custom make an outdoor lamp if you cannot find a ready-made lamp for your outdoor living area. If you are using your outdoor lamp for mixed uses, select one that has a dimming switch and a grounded cord.

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