Arts & Design

Three Elements to Consider When Creating a Dining Room Design

When designing a dining room, homeowners want to craft a unique space that reflects the personality of their family, while ensuring the area is practical and comfortable for hosting guests. Three elements can help people strike the ideal balance between style and functionality when designing a dining room.

dining tables
  1. Identify the Purpose of the Space

Before designing the dining room, it is essential to understand the function that it will serve. Will the area be used for formal dinner celebrations or casual gatherings of friends and family? How much seating is required? Should the space promote intimate conversations or lively group interaction?

The homeowner must first consider the practicalities of his or her design ideas. An elegant dining room that is easily congested or has poor lighting will need to be reworked. Here are some practical tips for design elements.

  • When selecting lighting, avoid downlights, which cast dark shadows on people’s faces. This effect is especially noticeable when the lights are positioned directly over the seating.
  • Use eye-level lighting to improve visibility and to highlight art or other accessories.
  • Think about color psychology when choosing a color palette. Warm tones, such as reds and oranges, can make people hungry but can also create a sense of urgency that might not be suitable for an environment that is relaxed and conversational.
  • When selecting design elements, consider if the intended goal of the decor is to generate conservation or to be subtle and subdued.
  • Is the dining room near a noisy or distracting area of the home, such as a game room or living room? Consider installing a screen to separate the dining space from the rest of the house.
  1. Invest in a Worthy Dining Room Table

Every space needs a centerpiece, and interior designer Tim Button recommends that the focal point be the dining room table. He says, “Make the table the center of attention so that your dinner companions are the main focus.” A prominent dining table will invite guests to take their seats and socialize with each other.

While homeowners have limited options with prefabricated or engineered wood tables, the customization opportunities are limitless when they choose a custom hardwood table. Hardwood furniture can be crafted according to the client’s individual tastes and exact specifications, and a custom piece will ensure that the scale and proportion of the design are in perfect harmony. Clients can choose from a wide range of woods, including maple, black walnut, white oak, cherry, or even reclaimed barn wood.

If legacy and craftsmanship are important to the family, they will be delighted by their hardwood dining table. The custom piece will last for generations and transcend the latest styles and trends.

Once the family has selected their heirloom-quality table, they will want to choose accessories, furnishings, and design elements that will complement and not compete with the dining table.

  1. Explore the Design Possibilities

Barbara Eberlein, creative director at Philadelphia-based Eberlein Design, advises homeowners to be creative with their dining room design. “Don’t miss an opportunity to create interesting textures and surfaces in the major horizontal planes: the floor, the table, and the ceiling,” she says. “Because dining rooms usually have more hard surfaces and fewer fabric-covered ones, embellish these planes where one’s gaze naturally travels.”

On the subject of dining table selection, Eberlein adds, “Small round tables are optimal for conversation and flexibility in the number of guests. Long, narrow rectangular tables maximize the number of guests along the perimeter but create a very different conversation pattern. Consider the type of environment you’d like to create.”

Try experimenting with different design elements that will serve as conversation starters. These could include artwork of local scenery, wallpaper with an unusual pattern, or accessories that reflect the family’s heritage or interests. Families should feel free to put their mark on the overall design, creating a setting that uniquely reflects their lifestyle.

dining tables

The personality of the homeowner can inspire a design. A family that is extroverted and outgoing may be drawn to bright colors and whimsical accessories, while more reserved and laid-back households may prefer muted tones and traditional furnishings. The color palette, artwork, or accessories in a dining area provide both homeowners and guests with an individualized dining experience.

The ideal dining room design will look different to different people, but above all, the dining room design should put the homeowners at ease. If the hosts feel at home, then the guests will too.

For more information about custom hardwood dining tables in Wake Forest, NC, visit the Duvall & Co. website at Contact the Design Studio by phone at (919) 819-8377 or by email at

Local Custom Furniture Maker Explains the Shift Away From Formal Dining Rooms

For homeowners in the 1950s and 1960s, formal dining rooms were fixtures in their homes. People’s lifestyles revolved around defined schedules, so mealtimes were more formal and structured. Food was cooked in the kitchen and eaten in the dining room, and after finishing the meal, the family retired to the living room.

In contrast, modern homeowners are accustomed to less structure and a more casual approach. Busy work schedules combined with busy school schedules contribute to the need for flexibility. Instead of having meals in a designated room, families often choose to eat in the kitchen, out on the patio, or while watching TV. As a result, the dining room is now used only for family gatherings and holiday celebrations, if it is used at all.

dining room tables

A survey from Angie’s List notes that while 77% of respondents have a dining room, only 23% regularly eat meals there. Angie’s List founder Angie Hicks notes that families still enjoy their meals together, but they eat in a different part of the house, such as in the kitchen or at the television in the family room. She says, ”It’s where they’re eating that’s changed the most, and that’s affecting home improvement. Remodelers and builders tell us they’re seeing a big spike in elaborate kitchen islands and more spacious kitchens that include tables and bar space.”

In place of the traditional dining room, homeowners are embracing eat-in kitchens that fit within an open floor plan. The key term defining this trend shift is “liveability.” People want their living spaces to be an extension of their lifestyle, and they appreciate an open setting that cultivates engagement and enables multi-tasking.

An award-winning custom home builder states, “An open floor plan is more than just the elimination of walls. It is creating an open, airy, space that encourages togetherness and flexibility in homes. Usually, open floor house plans combine the kitchen, dining area, and living space into what is called a “great room.” This means, one person can be cooking in the kitchen, another can be watching TV, and another doing homework at the kitchen island, all within view of one another. Open living spaces allow for greater communication between family members and guests, while older homes with small, separate rooms, are not conducive to social interactions or the lifestyles of families today.”

According to Better Homes & Gardens, “An eat-in kitchen is multitasking at its best. Not only does it provide a place for friends and family to hang out while dinner is being made, but an eat-in kitchen can also double as an additional food prep area. Plus, eat-in kitchens aren’t limited to one configuration or another. You can simply add a kitchen table and chairs to a breakfast nook or open floor space.”

Among the factors driving the move to eat-in kitchens is an emphasis on practicality and a desire for the family to be together. Homeowners can cater to both of these preferences by investing in a custom hardwood dining table, which will both stand the test of time and provide a setting where lasting memories can be made.

Whether homeowners choose a formal dining room or an eat-in kitchen, gathering around the dinner table continues to be a cherished part of mealtime traditions. David Duvall of Duvall & Co., a Wake Forest custom furniture maker, says, “We believe that a lot of special things happen around the table. It’s where you ask your spouse’s father for her hand in marriage, where you tell grandma and grandpa they were going to be grandparents for the first time, where you do homework with the kids. So many special things happen around the table. We feel like the table should be something special. It’s part of the family.”

Kitchen tables

The team at Duvall & Co. crafts custom hardwood tables that are built to last for generations. Each table is sealed with the highest grade commercial finishes that both protect the wood and enhance the natural beauty of the wood’s grain and color variations. Every piece is custom-built to order, allowing for an unlimited number of modifications.

For more information about custom dining tables in Wake Forest, NC, visit the Duvall & Co. website at Contact the Design Studio by phone at (919) 925-4499 or by email at

Showcasing the La Jolla Table from Duvall & Co.

When people think of a contemporary, elegant table design, concrete may not be the first material that comes to mind. However, concrete furniture has recently experienced a surge in popularity, and people are recognizing that this humble medium has rich design potential.

Concrete’s appeal comes from its versatility. The Spruce notes, “Although concrete may seem like a cold, flat material, it actually has this astounding way of creating a neutral backdrop for almost any design style—farmhouse, Bohemian, industrial, minimalist, to name a few.”

One way to introduce a concrete feature into an interior design is to invest in a dining table that incorporates concrete elements. “For a dining table that has an outside-the-box vibe, look to concrete. It offers a solid surface for family dinners, acts as a neutral stage for tabletop decor, and can be handmade by concrete companies, artisans, or custom-ordered online.”

As a custom furniture maker, Duvall & Co. understands that the days of buying furniture from a big-box retailer are slowly fading away. People do not want uniform, mass-produced furniture that is made from particleboard and covered by veneer. Rather, homeowners are choosing custom pieces that reflect the individuality of their family and complement the overall interior design of their home.

David Duvall, CEO of Duvall & Co., explains, “The educated consumer is not interested in having a table that is one of 10,000 just like it. They want one of a kind. This is really where our company stands out.”

Recognizing the shift towards unique, custom furniture, the Duvall & Co. Design Studio has crafted a line of tables that incorporate concrete, color, and the finest hardwoods to create sophisticated, contemporary pieces. One of the standout tables from this line is the La Jolla table.

The La Jolla Table From Duvall & Co.

An original design by Duvall & Co., the La Jolla table mixes concrete and a black walnut live edge slab to create a modern statement piece. The strength of the cool gray concrete is balanced by the warmth of the swirling coffee and cream hardwood, which flows through the center of the table. In contrast to some of Duvall & Co.’s other concrete tables, which have a more commanding presence, the La Jolla has a delicate quality, and people might be surprised that such an effect can be achieved with concrete. Graceful and subtle, the La Jolla table redefines what a concrete table can look like.

La Jolla Table

Dani Duvall, co-founder of Duvall & Co. and wife to David, shares the story behind the table. “The La Jolla table has a modern California design vibe, so we decided to name it after a town in California. We chose the relaxed seaside village of La Jolla in Southern California.”

The “California vibe” takes inspiration from a range of diverse influences to create a style that is fresh and lively. The aesthetic of the Golden State is at once both upscale and refined yet easygoing and approachable. According to, “The California aesthetic combines a mixture of influences ranging from coastal chic and mid-century modern to Mediterranean and bohemian, but when it all comes together, it creates an ambiance that is distinctly Californian.”

Not only is the La Jolla table a beautiful conversation piece, but it is also exceptionally practical and durable, like all of the pieces from Duvall & Co. In fact, it is in the practical aspects that the benefits of concrete truly shine. Concrete is low-maintenance and can be cleaned easily with soap and water. The hardy durability of the material makes concrete furniture heat and scratch-resistant. A concrete dining table would be ideal for a family that is looking for a table that can withstand daily wear yet still be visually attractive. The motto at Duvall & Co. is “Life happens at the table,” so the design and build team ensures that each table model will easily endure everyday use.

For more information about custom dining tables in Wake Forest, NC, visit the Duvall & Co. website at Contact the Design Studio by phone at (919) 925-4499 or by email at

Durham Sign Company Assists Businesses With COVID-19 Safety Solutions

When the team at DesignElement, a Durham, NC architectural signage company, noticed the need for workplace safety solutions in the aftermath of COVID-19, they decided to rise to the challenge. The sign planning and design firm is using its sign-making equipment to manufacture protective shields, personal protection equipment, and other safety solutions for local businesses. The goal is to help businesses in the Durham community reopen, operate safely, and protect the health of staff and customers.

custom signage

For years, DesignElement has been creating custom signage and graphics packages for education, hospitality, healthcare, residential, and corporate clients. This wide-ranging industry experience has enabled the company to quickly reconfigure its sign-making equipment to produce coronavirus signs and solutions.

One of the most widely felt effects of COVID-19 has been the economic fallout. Some businesses have been deemed non-essential and are only just being allowed to reopen. 

To continue serving the public, businesses need to implement safety measures and social distancing protocols. DesignElement Durham is coming alongside business owners to help them navigate the changes that are occurring as a result of doing business in a post-coronavirus society.

A DesignElement representative says, “DesignElement Durham is an essential business and remains open to serve our business customers. As a manufacturing facility built to meet our clients’ needs, we can produce many signs to help you prepare for reopening to the public. As a custom signage solutions company, we can tailor a sign package to your specific needs.”

The team understands what it takes to create engaging and informational custom signage that fits the unique needs of a business or service. Not only does DesignElement Durham manufacture signage and safety solutions, but it also designs these solutions to promote a business’s brand identity. While the marketing budget may be limited by the economic impact of COVID-19, businesses can protect employees and customers with custom personal protection equipment, including branded sneeze guards and shields that fit within a business’s brand identity.

DesignElement has been able to rapidly adapt to evolving needs because it is more than a sign provider. The company is a full-service, award-winning communication and environmental design firm that offers novel, innovative design solutions ranging from simple logo design for small businesses to full branding for large, global companies.

Listening to and serving the needs of the community is foundational. One-size-fits all services are not the most effective answer to the challenges posed by COVID-19. Signage that works for a restaurant may not work for an accountant or a grocery store. Customizable products are essential, especially during periods of uncertainty and crisis.

DesignElement Durham offers the following workplace safety solutions:

  • Hand Sanitizer Kiosks and Stations
  • Protective Sneeze Guards
  • Customer Service Counter Protective Shields

In addition, the company’s signage solutions include:

  • Architectural Sign Planning
  • Design Consulting
  • Social Distancing Floor Signs and Decals
  • Wayfinding Signs and Decals
  • Customer Safety Signs
  • Awareness Signs
  • Open for Business Signs
  • Curbside Pickup Zone Signs

One of the more difficult safety measures to adapt to has been social distancing. While it is natural for people to be social and conversational, they must maintain a six-foot distance. Signage and floor decals help customers remember social distancing policies, and wayfinding signs direct traffic through the store. These signs can incorporate fun, educational facts to keep people entertained. Business owners may also want to post their store’s safety policies.

Yard signs and A-Frame signs help inform the community that a store has reopened or has continued to stay open. These signs can be designed to briefly highlight operational changes, including shortened business hours or curbside pickup options. DesignElement also provides illuminated signage.

Offering pickup and delivery has enabled stores to continue to serve customers. By using corrugated plastic signs and vinyl window decals, Durham businesses can advertise their pickup and delivery options and mark out curbside pickup zones and parking spots.

DesignElement has also custom fabricated free-standing sanitizer kiosks and stations, which are integrated with instructional and educational signage. Since sanitizer kiosk availability is dwindling, DesignElement is providing this product locally. Businesses can now bypass the time spent waiting for sellers to restock sold-out sanitizing kiosks and stations. It should be noted that DesignElement does not provide hand sanitizer or sanitation wipes.

In every project that DesignElement takes on, the team displays ingenuity and attention to detail and produces products that are effective, unique, and beautifully designed. Whatever the new normal may be, DesignElement looks forward to equipping local Durham businesses with the best products to protect the health and safety of employees and customers.

For more information about signs in Durham, NC, visit the DesignElement website at team can be reached by phone at (919) 851-2066. Appropriate social distancing and other safety measures are being observed at the company’s physical location, and curbside pickup and delivery is available.

Raleigh Signage Company Provides Workplace Sign and Safety Solutions

DesignElement, a Raleigh architectural sign planning, and design firm, has stepped up to help local businesses overcome the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. The company has reconfigured its sign-making equipment to be able to produce protective shields and similar personal protection equipment, as well as safety solutions to help businesses operate and reopen.

sign planning

The company’s signage and workplace safety solutions include:

  • Architectural Sign Planning and Design Consulting
  • Social Distancing Floor Signs and Decals
  • Wayfinding Signs and Decals
  • Customer Safety and Awareness Signs
  • Open for Business Signs
  • Curbside Pickup Zone Signs
  • Hand Sanitizer Kiosks and Stations
  • Protective Sneeze Guards
  • Customer Service Counter Protective Shields

Safety Signs and Workplace Solutions

DesignElement can produce many types of signs to help businesses prepare to reopen to the public. As a custom signage solutions company, DesignElement can tailor a sign package to a business’ specific needs and offers a fast turnaround time.

The team can produce social distancing floor decals, wayfinding signs and stickers, customer safety and awareness signs, open for business signs, sidewalk signs, curbside pickup zone signs, and hand sanitizer kiosks and stations. The hand sanitizer stations include custom printed backplates for additional brand awareness.

Protective Shields and Guards

Keeping customers and employees safe is a priority during the COVID-19 pandemic. DesignElement helps create solutions that not only protect people’s health but also promote a business’s brand identity. While the economic impact of COVID-19 may limit the marketing budget, businesses can utilize custom-branded personal protection equipment, such as sneeze guards and shields, to keep their services top of mind.

Social Distancing Decals, Wayfinding Signs, and Safety Policy Signs

One of the hardest safety measures to adapt to has been social distancing. People naturally want to be social and conversational, but it is vital to remind customers to maintain a six-foot distance. Floor decals help customers remember social distancing policies, and wayfinding signs direct traffic safely through a store. DesignElement can create signs that stand out with fun, educational facts to keep the clientele entertained while exercising proper distancing protocol. Posting a business’ safety policies is also beneficial for both customers and employees.

Open for Business Yard and A-Frame Signs

Yard signs and A-Frames are an excellent way to let the community know that a store is back in business. A solid design can allow room to briefly highlight operational changes, such as shortened hours of operation or the introduction of curbside pickup. DesignElement offers illuminated signage solutions for businesses that want to draw extra attention to their announcements.

Curbside Pickup and Delivery Available Signs

Pickup and delivery has proved to be an excellent way for stores to minimize contact with customers while still providing services. Raleigh businesses can advertise their pickup and delivery options with corrugated plastic signs and vinyl window decals that are easy-to-read. Signage also helps to clearly delineate curbside pickup zones and parking spots.

Free-Standing Sanitizer Kiosks and Stations

One of DesignElement’s more unique solutions is its free-standing sanitizer kiosks and stations. These tools are custom fabricated and are integrated with instructional and educational signage. While sanitizer kiosks are already on the market, their availability is dwindling. By providing this product locally, DesignElement enables businesses to bypass the time spent waiting for sellers to restock sold-out sanitizing kiosks and stations.

At DesignElement, the teams’ efforts are driven by a desire to meet the needs of the community during a time of great need. The company’s solutions are not one-size-fits-all services. Signage that works for a pizzeria may not work for a supermarket or a law office. DesignElement understands that customization is essential, especially during times of crisis. In everything the team does, they display ingenuity and attention to detail in order to produce products that are unique, beautifully designed, and effective. Whatever the new normal may be, DesignElement is completely prepared to equip local Raleigh businesses with the best products to protect employees and customers.

For more information about essential signage in Raleigh, NC, visit the DesignElement website at team can be reached by phone at (919) 851-2066. The office is located at 972 Trinity Rd Ste 1, Raleigh, NC 27607 and is open on Monday through Friday from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM. Appropriate social distancing and other safety measures are being observed, and curbside pickup and delivery are available.

Marietta Lighting Company Responds to COVID-19 Challenges

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak to be a worldwide pandemic. On March 13, the President of the United States announced a national emergency in light of the global COVID-19 pandemic. In the following days and months, life in America and around the world changed as nations adjusted economies, businesses, industries, educational institutions, and lifestyles to address the invisible threat. Social distancing, self-quarantine, sheltering in place, massive layoffs, and remote work became the new normal. With most of the United States under lockdown, only essential businesses and activities were permitted.

landscape lighting

Landscape Lighting: Essential and Safe

All forms of landscaping and lawn maintenance are considered “essential” under government guidelines. The industry is committed to keeping customers and workers safe.

An informal survey of the landscaping industry highlights the concern of the industry for its workers, clients, subcontractors, and vendors. The industry is striving to overcome the COVID-19 challenge while providing safe, efficient, and high-quality products and services.

The team at Southern Landscape Lighting Systems wants its clients to know that it is an essential and safe business. The company is open for business, has safety precautions in place, and is continuing to deliver the best landscape lighting in the metro Atlanta area, including Marietta, Acworth, and Alpharetta.

The aim of the safety measures is to promote and preserve the health of the client and the crew. The vehicles are sanitized several times a day and no tool sharing is permitted. Paperless documents and teleconferencing further protect clients and employees. Virtual night-time renderings enable clients to safely experience a lighting design.

The landscaping industry is working diligently to maintain the trust and confidence of clients during and after the pandemic. Across the industry, companies are adopting and following CDC guidelines and safe practices. Employers are instructing workers on how to follow these guidelines while on the job and in daily life.

Team meetings in the mornings or afternoons have been suspended until further notice. Crews have staggered start times to limit group contact. Only one person per vehicle is allowed while on the job, and individual workers are taking their own vehicles to the job site. Project management and job supervision are managed virtually, maintaining, and even improving job performance and quality control. Companies are utilizing technology such as Zoom for video meetings with employees, vendors, subcontractors, and clients.

Crews are frequently using hand-sanitizer, wearing face masks, and social distancing on all phases of the job. Crew sizes are reduced and, where possible, limited to only a single person. Symptomatic crew members are staying at home and quarantining.

On the sales front, where customer contact most often occurs, companies are keeping the experience safe yet personal. Safety measures include:

  • Social distancing during onsite consultations with clients
  • Face masks and gloves
  • Paperless documents for estimates, invoices, and general correspondence

One of the respondents in the general survey commented, “We’re still sending the sales team out. We talk to the clients and get as much information as we can over the phone. Then, we tell them we’ll do the estimate at a distance. It’s definitely strange. Sales are all about building rapport with people and it’s awkward to not shake someone’s hand and to stay away from them.”

Office staff, the sales force, and account managers are working remotely. Estimates reveal that almost half of the American workforce is working from home for at least a portion of each workweek.

The landscaping industry is committed to continuing to do business while following the tightest measures to promote and preserve the health of the employee, the client, subcontractors, and vendors, demonstrating integrity in its attention to safety.


Southern Landscape Lighting Systems is both essential and safe. The landscape lighting design and installation company is open for business and follows best practices for health safety. Clients can have every confidence that employees and staff are following CDC guidelines and recommendations. Social distancing, workforce screening, paperless documents, and other measures have been implemented to preserve and promote the safety of clients.

For more information about landscape lighting in Marietta, GA, visit Southern Landscape Lighting Systems of Marietta on the web at or call (678) 616-9166.

Alpharetta Landscape Lighting Company Makes Remote Work Safe

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly half the labor force and most students are now working and studying from home. Home is where the family is. Families are upgrading the yard and home to fit the reality that more activity will occur in and around the house for work, for school, and for play.

Should homeowners make significant improvements to the home and the landscape based on the expectation that remote work will be more permanent and temporary? It all depends on the individual’s work situation. However, indications from decision-makers are that the culture of work is changing. While management’s desire for a tightly-knit culture in the workforce has been a priority, it was thought that this camaraderie could only be achieved by having employees together at the office all day every day.

landscape lighting

CFO’s are releasing their grip on this notion according to an article in Information Week. “For instance, a new survey of CFOs by Gartner revealed that more CFOs are looking to shift more of their previously on-site employees to remote workers on a permanent basis. A full 74% said they intend to move at least 5% of their on-site workforces to remote positions after the COVID-19 crisis resolves. What’s more, 17% of respondents to the survey said that 20% of those moved to work from home will remain as permanent remote workers after the crisis.”

A possible factor in this shift is the realization that social media and technologies such as Zoom and Facetime have demonstrated that relationships with a strong sense of comradery can be created, sustained, and strengthened virtually.

More Time at the Home Away From Home: The Lake House and Mountain Cottage

Almost half of the American workforce is at home, either laid-off or working remotely from home. Many people who have lake homes or mountain cottages are enjoying a change of pace by working from their second home.

Tips for the Remote Office Retreat

For remote workers and their families who have decided to base at the lake or mountain retreat during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond, here are some landscape lighting tips to consider. Safety is the top priority.

Tip #1: Inspect the system if one is already installed at the work retreat.

Take an inventory of damaged fixtures and bulbs that need replacing. Note any exposed wiring. Consider upgrading to low voltage LED lighting if the existing system is halogen lighting. LED is less expensive to operate, and the bulbs last many times longer than halogen. LED lighting is much cooler, so the possibility of fire is greatly reduced. If the existing system is not functional, schedule a maintenance appointment to resolve any immediate issues. Include a design consultation to create a plan to move forward with an upgrade or replacement system.

Tip #2: Consider installing a new LED landscape lighting system tailored to specific needs.

A landscape lighting system makes sense if the remote work retreat will see an uptick in activity. A lighting system will boost curb appeal and make the yard and outdoor living spaces more accessible at night. Work in the cool evenings under the pergola ensconced by retractable mosquito netting and surrounded by a landscape elegantly illuminated.

Tip #3: Make outdoor living spaces safe.

The transition from the urgent urban to the remote retreat needs to address safety concerns, especially if the remote retreat includes e-learning for the children.

  • Entrances should be illuminated so that fumbling in the dark for keys or tripping over rugs or planters is avoided.
  • Steps should be well-lighted, especially for older adults and younger children.
  • Brick or stone walkways, paths with stepping stones, and gravel walks need adequate lighting to prevent tripping and stumbling. Limbs, or worse snakes, may find their way onto the hardscape surface, posing a safety hazard.

Tip #4: Make it safe from the doorway to the dock.

A main priority at the lake house should include being able to safely walk from the door to the dock. The dock also needs to be safely and tastefully illuminated when in use. Having the dock lights on remote can allow for those times when privacy and seclusion are desired.

Tip #5: Allow for adequate overhead lighting.

At times, the entire space between the lake house and the lake may need to be illuminated. Backyard recreation and entertaining at times may require total illumination to safely utilize the space.


More people are and will be working from home in the future. Lake houses and mountain cottages are more frequently being used as remote work retreats as people strive for fewer distractions. LED lighting is an efficient, affordable solution for safety issues. Low voltage lighting is perfect for reclaiming the night for entertainment, recreation, and rest from a hard day at the home office. An experienced and knowledgeable landscape lighting design expert can help homeowners working from home safely reclaim outdoor living and workspaces once the sun has set.

For more information about landscape lighting at the lake house or mountain cottage, visit the Southern Landscape Lighting Systems website at To speak with a lighting design consultant, call the office at (770) 691-1221.

Acworth Landscape Lighting Company Offers Four Urban Garden Lighting Tips

As COVID-19 continues to run its course, cities and countries around the world have mandated that citizens stay at home to flatten the curve. As Acworth and other metro Atlanta residents shelter in place, the rooms and outdoor spaces where they once spent only a few waking hours a week now encapsulate their entire existence. This short-term recalibration will have long-term effects since the home is now the hub of activity for most of the day and night.

landscape lighting

A recent headline at Reuters identifies a growing trend toward urban and backyard gardening: “Home gardening blooms around the world during coronavirus lockdowns.” The article notes, “People around the world are turning to gardening as a soothing, family-friendly hobby that also eases concerns over food security as lockdowns slow the harvesting and distribution of some crops. Fruit and vegetable seed sales are jumping worldwide.”

Southern Landscape Lighting Systems of Acworth is sharing four landscape lighting tips to help make a backyard garden safe and flourishing.

Tip #1: Schedule a landscape lighting consultation and maintenance service before laying out the garden plot and tilling the ground, especially if a lighting system is already installed. Identifying wire and fixture locations before breaking ground prevents damaging the system by cutting wiring or cracking fixtures. A general checkup and maintenance visit would include:

  • Cleaning lenses
  • Re-burying exposed wire
  • Replacing timer batteries
  • Adjusting fixtures and re-aiming where needed
  • Replacement of all halogen bulbs
  • Pruning of foliage overgrowth
  • Greasing sockets

Tip #2. Make a list of urban garden lighting goals. The goals might include:

  • Being able to work when it is dusk or dark, both in the early morning and evening
  • Being able to stroll through the garden safely and comfortably after dark
  • Being able to remotely illuminate the plot when deer, raccoon or other uninvited guests are looking for a nighttime snack
  • Highlighting features in the garden that are more aesthetic than nutritional, such as a birdbath, water feature, or sitting area
  • Illuminating a workstation where the fruits, vegetables, herbs, and other plants can be safely and comfortably processed
  • Having a well-lighted path from the home to the garden
  • Having the garden lighting accessible for seasonal adjustments
  • Being careful to avoid light pollution

Tip #3: Enlist a professional design and install team. Other considerations come into play that the homeowner may not be aware of. Installing a DIY system may not only be ineffective, but it could also be dangerous in a garden that has either overhead or drip irrigation. Water and electricity do not mix, and extension cords and utility lights spell trouble. A professionally designed and installed system will be safe, efficient, and effective to accomplish the desired goals.

Tip #4: Plant year-round and recoup the investment. The Georgia Extension Service notes that crops, including urban garden crops, can be raised year-round. Having a productive year-round garden will offset the cost of the installation and may well recoup the investment in as little as a growing season. “You can plant or harvest something from your garden almost all year. The two major planting periods, however, are spring (March to May) and fall (mid-July to September). The spring plantings are harvested in June and July, while the fall plantings are harvested from October to December.”


With the renewed interest in backyard gardening, homeowners can enjoy an illuminated gardening area that can be safely worked after dark when it is cooler. Produce from the garden can offset the expense of the urban garden lighting project very quickly.

Southern Landscape Lighting Systems is made up of a team of licensed professionals who offer residential and commercial services in the metro Atlanta area. These experts design and install custom outdoor lighting to accentuate features of the client’s home, landscaping, subdivision entrance, or business. Southern Landscape Lighting Systems delivers the highest quality products, professional design, installation, and continuing service support for customers.

For more information about landscape lighting in Acworth, GA, and the greater Atlanta areas, call Southern Landscape Lighting Systems of Acworth at (678) 324-6842.

Wake Forest Furniture Maker Highlights the Benefits of Custom Solid Hardwoods

Natural wood has always been a desirable material for crafting durable, beautiful furniture. Over the years, families have passed down their hardwood furniture so that future generations can enjoy a piece that is rich with history and memories.

However, technology has popularized the use of engineered wood, especially medium-density fiberboard or MDF. Many in the furniture industry have embraced MDF for tables, doors, shelving, and other applications. Much modern furniture consists of a thin layer of real wood glued to the visible sides and edges of MDF.

hardwood furniture

Families searching for the perfect dining table might be tempted to purchase an MDF piece. They may reason that MDF is less expensive than hardwood, and the table would just be damaged by energetic children and the wear of life. Why invest in a hardwood table?

To answer this question, it is important to understand what engineered wood is and how it differs from natural hardwood. Engineered wood, also known as man-made wood or manufactured board, is made by binding or fixing the particles, fibers, or parts of wood together with glues or resins to form composite material.

People may not realize that the glue and resin used to make MDF generally contain urea-formaldehyde, which emits gasses that can cause allergy-like reactions such as watery eyes, a burning sensation in the nose, throat, and eyes, coughing and wheezing, nausea, and skin irritation.

Wellness architect Pippa Lee, who is an advocate for healthy indoor environments, advises homeowners to avoid MDF products. “Put simply, there is no good way to have urea-formaldehyde in your life.”

From a structural perspective, MDF furniture can be easily damaged or scratched and does not repair well. Since MDF lacks grain and texture, its aesthetic qualities are only as rich and true as the thin piece of veneer with which it is covered. Further, water and MDF do not mix. If the furniture is made of low-grade MDF and if it has not been sealed, it will not withstand water saturation or a humid environment.

The Solid Advantage: Natural Hardwoods

MDF has its place in the furniture market, but MDF pieces should not be confused for heirloom-quality furniture. If a family is searching for longevity, value, and legacy, they will find these qualities in natural hardwoods.

Strength and Durability

Natural hardwood is impressively strong and sturdy. A table, door, or desk constructed of engineered wood such as MDF may last for decades, but solid wood furniture has been demonstrated to last for centuries. Longevity enables generations of children and grandchildren to enjoy the same table that their grandparents and great-grandparents made memories at.


Natural hardwood is unparalleled in beauty. Each piece of furniture displays a grain, curling, and texture that make it as unique as the family who owns it. The artificial patterns of MDF can only mimic the true beauty of real wood. If aesthetics and style are a priority, natural hardwood will exceed expectations.


Solid wood furniture can be customized in many ways, including shape, finish, and color. Engineered wood reflects the uniformity of mass-produced furniture and simply does not offer the level of precise customization that a custom furniture maker provides. Scale and proportion are foundational to interior design. While MDF furniture is rigid in its size constraints, hardwood furniture can be crafted exactly according to the client’s desires and the space available in his or her home.


The types, styles, colors, grains, texture, durability, and cost of wood varies widely, affording reasonable options for every taste, function, and price point.


Furniture made from solid hardwood possesses a greater real and intrinsic value than furniture made from MDF. Even though it is composite wood and is less durable than hardwood, MDF can be expensive.

Value is more than money, and tables are more than just a piece of furniture. From birthday celebrations to weighty talks, special memories are created at the dining room table. Every dent or scratch on a hardwood table is not an imperfection but a tribute to a busy, fulfilling life. The motto at Duvall & Co is, “Life happens at the table.” The question families must ask themselves is do they want their life to take place at a table that is just sawdust, wood chips, and glue? Or, do they want a table that is worthy of the memories their family will create?

For more information about custom handcrafted furniture in Wake Forest, NC, visit the Duvall & Co website at Contact the Design Studio by phone at (919) 819-8377 or by email at

Avoid These Landscape Lighting Design Mistakes

When a homeowner Illuminates their residence for the first time with low voltage LED lighting, it not only transforms how they see their home, but it also transforms how they experience it. The leap from obscurity to brilliance can be breathtaking. However, going from darkness to light or unseen to see is not enough. The way the home is lit can enhance beauty, create drama, and evoke the mood. Lighting can also enable the homeowner to use and enjoy their outdoor living space after dark.

landscape lighting acworth

The homeowner must be aware of lighting design traps. Before starting a landscape lighting project, be careful to avoid the following mistakes:

  1. Do Not Fixate on the Fixtures. Focus on Light.

Visualize what will be illuminated, how it will be seen at night, and the impact the lighting will have on what is illuminated. Focus on the light. The bulb inside the fixture does all the work. The focus of the design should be determining how to best manage the light in order to capture different elements.

It may sound strange, but it is common sense. The emphasis should be on what the light contributes to the scenery, not the fixture. It can be an enjoyable challenge to wrestle with what functions different fixtures will perform, how the fixtures will look aesthetically, and which mounting and installation options to choose.

A novice will make this mistake and waste untold hours only to achieve a subpar result. Avoid the trap of getting consumed with designing with fixtures.

The homeowner should ask two important questions:

  • What is to be illuminated?
  • Which fixture will best create the desired effect?
  1. Do Not Over Illuminate.

A common mistake is to illuminate everything, but assuming everything needs to be lit is a mistake. A solid lighting design creates both shadows and light, and a beautiful landscape lighting design balances both light and shadow. Landscape lighting is the art of painting with light, shadows, and darkness.

  1. Light Trees Properly.

Tree lighting requires some forethought about the number of fixtures and their placement. For example, when placing fixtures, account for the growth of the tree. A fast-growing tree can quickly overwhelm a fixture placed too near it.

Viewing angles on tree-like spruce or a river birch need some thoughtful consideration. A large, wide tree likely will need more than one fixture to capture it. Adding a second fixture to brighten a tree ignores other options. Adding a second fixture to ensure the light is more fulfilled is a worthy option.

  1. Choose the Correct Beam Angle and Lumen Output.

The different lumen outputs and beam angled lamps can create some fabulous projections. Avoid using one lamp for every application. Fit the light to what it is being captured. For example, using a softly diffused lamp to light a majestic, ancient oak tree is a fail. Using a lamp with a 500-lumen output to light a small ornamental tree makes no sense either.

  1. Avoid Light Trespass.

A good example of light trespass is when landscape lighting disturbs, distracts, or annoys the neighbors. A considerate lighting design illuminates the homeowner’s residence and landscape, not the neighbor’s. Unwanted light shining nightly into the neighbor’s windows can cause relational tension. Proper fixture selection, placement, and aiming can prevent light trespass from happening. Analyze viewing angles. Is the lamp glare visible from the road?

Rotating the protective shroud on fixtures will afford more control over where light is being directed. If light is throwing a glare into an undesirable location, turning the shroud until the light can no longer be seen should resolve the issue. Careful consideration of light trespass will ensure that everyone, including the neighbors, enjoys the landscape lighting.

landscape lighting acworth


Before installing the first fixture, discover the distinct beauty and purpose of every landscape scene. Come up with a plan that embraces these discoveries. Landscapes, even simple ones, have a balance and theme that unify the design. Failing to achieve balance in the design and application will communicate confusion. A cohesive plan will guide the selection, placement, and aiming of fixtures. The result will provide a satisfying visual experience. In many regards, the installation is more straightforward than the formulation of a cohesive, functional plan. Consulting a professional landscape lighting expert could be the best decision a homeowner could make when seeking to illuminate their home and outdoor living space.

For more information about landscape lighting design, contact Southern Landscape Lighting Systems of Acworth at (678) 324-6842.

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