When you make your plan for lighting up your house or apartment for the holidays, it doesn't have to be elaborate. No need for hundreds of bulbs swinging from eaves and trees. But like planting spring tulip and daffodil bulbs, the best effect is produced by clumping or bunching lights together. Check out the look of the glass vases, each filled with a string of lights, that decorate the shelves of a family room entertainment unit. They mimic the shape of a bunch of brightly colored blooms.
Lights have changed a lot through the past few years due to the increase in availability of energy-efficient bulbs. Favorite holiday motifs, such as snowmen, reindeer and Santas, sport LED lights with a slightly different shimmer, but they carry the same cheerful sentiment. It’s all for fun, and helps us brighten up a cold, winter month.
Flameless candles are another celebratory light source, and they come with a huge bonus – they are safe. With no live flame or melting wax to watch over, you can set up an intriguing light show along the mantel, on tabletops and beside the bed. The sight and scent of real candles have a timeless appeal, but save these for the dining table, or by the bathtub, where they will only be lit when an adult is present to watch them burn.
I live in an old condo that has two red brick walls in the living/dining area. I’ve enjoyed the natural brick for many years, but feel that I want to lighten the look without paint or covering the brick with drywall, as many of my neighbors have done. I was thinking of mixing together paint the color of my non-brick walls and urethane, and applying that. What do you think? – Ron
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The paint and urethane mixture will make a bit of a sticky mess. Instead, I would choose a chalky white paint with a flat sheen, and mix a whitewash: 1 part water to 2 parts paint. Brush this over the bricks, and it will produce a veiled effect that will lighten up the walls without losing the texture and shading of the bricks.
We have just finished painting our kitchen cabinets a creamy white; the walls are white, the counter is a gray pebble Formica, and the floor is a light-pine laminate. It feels too monochromatic. What can we do to pick it up a bit that wouldn’t be too expensive? Nothing too flashy. – Megan
This is where your backsplash area can make all the difference, and you can simply paint it, which is the most inexpensive fix possible. I’d pick a great paint color – orange chartreuse, bright blue or rusty red. Or check out the glass mosaic tiles in these shades; you don’t need a large quantity to cover a backsplash, and you can create fabulous designs or a subtle pattern with a few colorful highlights. The exciting news today is that you can buy small appliances and other kitchen accessories in bright colors. A huge color choice in houseware products is common in Europe, and happily this trend is starting in North America. Even an all-white kitchen will vibrate with energy when you introduce a few colorful accents.
Debbie Travis’ House to Home column is produced by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. You can follow Debbie on Twitter at www.twitter.com/debbie_travis . Please e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org .