The Season for Front Porches

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The front porch is easily the most important aspect of your home’s appearance and the impression it has on the onlooker. At Ourso Designs, being natives of the south, we LOVE our front porches! There are just a few elements that make up a great front porch.

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1. Lighting

Like every interior space, exterior spaces also need a layer of lighting. General lighting is important; after all, you want to be able to see on the porch. Next, a couple sconces or a center lantern are great for accenting. Finally, task lighting is essential for highlighting important areas of the landscape, like plant arrangements, trees, or lawn fixtures.

2. Seating

The secondary purpose of the front porch (aside from it’s utility purpose to provide shelter) is to be inviting. Seating affirms that inviting impression. Another advantage is it gives you (and any guests) an opportunity to relax in an area of your home that lends a different view.

3. Plants

Also like most interior spaces, exterior spaces benefit from the addition of plants. Potted plants can act much like accessories. Like layering fabrics and patterns, its important to have plants of different shapes, sizes and textures on your porch.This will create a pleasing overall aesthetic.

4. Color

 Finally, color! Many add a pop of color by painting the front door an eye-catching color. Not a fan? That’s okay! There are other ways to incorporate color: in your plants’ pots, the plants themselves, and seating and seating accessories (pillows/cushions), just to start. Another option is to incorporate an outdoor rug. “Color” doesn’t necessarily mean it needs to be bright; producing contrast among existing materials is just as effective as having a bright red door.

 

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Does your lighting make you feel beautiful?

…or handsome?

Whenever you find yourself feeling down, feeling your self esteem drop, or even feeling unattractive, look around: are you in bad lighting? Bad lighting can put you into a funk, create bad highlights and unflattering shadows; you can spend all the money in the world and hire the best designer for your kitchen, bath, or commercial building, but a poor lighting set up can ruin the room.

Example of bad lighting

Good lighting beautifies rooms and people, positively affects mood, and accentuates a room, improving the ambiance created by the design and product selection. Good lighting makes you feel and look better; it takes you out of the dark, bummer England of the soul into the well-lit, tropical yet temperate clime of successful design.

Example of good lighting-Notice how the lighting seems to be layered.

Lighting is like clothing: often it is more successful to plan with layers. You need to consider, and use, the 3 types of lighting:

  1. General Lighting, usually from above
    General Lighting
  2. Task Lighting, which can be turned on and off as needed (think drawing table lights, reading lamps, etc.)
    Task Lighting
  3. Ambient Lighting – (wall sconces, table and floor lamps, dimmed can lights, LED toe kick lighting, etc.)
    Ambient Lighting

The bathroom is possibly the most important – and most difficult – room to consider lighting for. Because the bathroom is small and full of stuff, there will be more shadows and the light bouncing off of the mirror (or mirrors) can complicate the lighting. Lights that flank the mirror are good because they will illuminate your face (for makeup application, shaving, etc.) while minimizing reflected light, because they are on the sides of the mirror. Of course, you would combine flanking lights with general lighting from above, and ambient lighting from sconces. A bad lighting situation would be a light directly above the mirror, or right above your head on the ceiling.

Poorly Lit Bathroom
Well Lit Bathroom

You want to shoot for flattering lights in all applications, and don’t forget your layers of light. Getting away from bathrooms, and moving onto commercial applications, we recently visited a bar/restaurant that had overly strong pendant lighting that was not really accompanied by sufficient general and ambient lighting. As there was basically a pendant per person, each guest at the bar looked lit up like they were on a stage. This lighting setup was unflattering and did not really work for the room; backing up the pendant lights with overhead lighting and ambient lighting would help that bar a lot.

Well Lit Bar

A well lit bar can be a good spot for a casual business meeting, or a place for an intimate conversation. Poor lighting can light up people in unattractive ways and set a bad mood or tone for the room.