Topic: Outdoor Lighting

Date Posted: Tuesday, December 08, 2015
Posted by: Tanya Zanfa (Master Admin)

Holiday lighting pros make season brighter — and simpler

Holiday lighting pros make season brighter — and simpler

Vicki Stout, For The Tennessean

The holidays are headed toward us like a high-speed train. Pumpkins are giving way to holiday greenery and decorative lights.

For those whose holiday spirits are heightened by lighting up their home’s exterior, ponder this before you step on your first ladder rung: Clark Griswold in "National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation." (If you’re unfamiliar with the holiday classic and its leading man, Chevy Chase, head to Netflix. Stat.)

Hanging lights on rooflines and in trees is not for the faint of heart. For the do-it-yourself sort, it’s vital to have the proper tools: sturdy ladders, extension cords, clips to attach lights to gutters, timers, etc.

For the homeowner who is happy to turn it over to someone else — yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus — look to an outdoor lighting specialist.

While using landscaping lighting professionals to hang lights is not new, there has sprung up a specialty niche of lighting pros who primarily do holiday lighting. Some may spread their wings to landscape lighting or even interior décor, but the heart of their business is exterior holiday lighting.

Like Santa, this is their big season.

Stephen Parry and Terry Duncan founded their holiday lighting business, Outdoor Lighting Pros, as second careers; Parry spent his first career in plastic pigments (think lunch boxes and matching thermos bottles) and Duncan was in the insurance business.

The two men, who are neighbors, wanted to buy or create a new business and saw a need for holiday lighting. They did their research and formulated a business plan, and now, they're lighting up Williamson County homes and businesses.

This home on Lanes End in Franklin is festive with

This home on Lanes End in Franklin is festive with its pre-lit wreaths, garland and lit roofline. Outdoor Lighting Pros designed and installed the holiday lighting. (Photo: Submitted)

The pair buys commercial-grade LED lights on huge spools and custom cuts the strands to fit the client's specific roofline, porch, trees, yard and driveway. They hang the lights, maintain them during the holidays and then come back to take them down and store them.

They label the entire kit and caboodle with the owner's name and address, so that if the happy homeowner invites them back next year to light up, everything is still specific to that particular home.

Edward Morales of Above & Beyond Designs does exteriors and interiors during the holidays while maintaining his other career as a professional dancer.

“My background is theater, which plays a huge role, I think, in the holiday designs I do, both exterior and interior, for homeowners,” he said.

Edward Morales with Above & Beyond Designs made Kim

Edward Morales with Above & Beyond Designs made Kim and Ryan Foster’s Princeton Hills home all a glitter with white lights last year. This season, they will change the trees to red lights but will keep white on the home. (Photo: Submitted)

Morales' business model differs in that in addition to custom-fitting the lights to rooflines, porches and trees, he presents the homeowner with the actual invoices on all materials, then adds his labor as a separate charge.

He takes down the lights, stores and labels them and then hands them over to the homeowner, so that next year, if the homeowner invites him back, there’s only the labor charge.

Or, if the homeowner is the Clark Griswold-type, he or she can do the DIY thing with those materials.

Ken Walter’s home in Franklin is festive with its red

Ken Walter’s home in Franklin is festive with its red and white roofline, pre-lit garlands and wreaths. The back of the home also is decorated. Outdoor Lighting Pros designed and installed the holiday décor last year and are in the midst of doing it again this year. (Photo: Submitted)

Ken Walters, a Franklin resident, used Outdoor Lighting Pros last year and is using them again this year.

“I used to do the lights myself, both when we lived in Franklin and when we moved to Oklahoma, before moving back to Franklin,” said Walters. “We came back to Franklin in 2009; our current home is larger and there’s more to light, including tall evergreens in the back around our pool.

“I decided instead of my haphazard efforts, ladders and all the work, it would be better to pay someone to do it.  We chose Steve and Terry and they did a super job. They showed us their ideas and the designs and gave us costs up front, so we knew what we were getting," he said. "What a relief not to have to hang them or take them down, or store them for that matter. We just called them this year to come back and do it again.”

Walters says it’s worth the couple of thousand dollars he spends to have it done.

“It’s like landscaping; professionals know what to do, how to make things look and how to accomplish it. There’s no guesswork like there is if I do it myself,” he said.

The home’s dramatic front entrance is outlined by lights

The home’s dramatic front entrance is outlined by lights and includes lighted wreaths for the doors. Kim and Ryan Foster used Above & Beyond Designs for the exterior and much of the interior of their Princeton Hills home in Brentwood. (Photo: Submitted)

Kim and Ryan Foster have lit their Princeton Hills home in Brentwood for the past few years. They use Morales of Above & Beyond.

“It cost us a bit more the first year to buy all the lights and materials, but we own them. They’re stored here and we could put them up ourselves, but we prefer to use Edward (Morales). He’s a great designer. He’s extremely creative and extremely nice," said Ryan Foster.

"He outlines the exterior of our home, does the trees, even lines our circular driveway and lights a fountain. We use him for a lot of our interior decorating as well; he has a great eye and fills our home with holiday cheer.”

This year, the Fosters will share that cheer with neighbors who will come to their home for the neighborhood holiday soiree. Princeton Hills has more than 160 homes; all are spacious.

Ryan says a good percentage of homeowners in the neighborhood lights up their exteriors.

Both lighting companies stress that the cost depends on home size, roofline (a ranch is easier to light than a three-story, for example), the intricacies of rooflines, landscaping, trees, driveways, porches and other factors.  They say each home is different, as are the homeowners' requests, so estimates and prices are specific to each.

Outdoor Lighting Pros has a minimum charge of $750; Above & Beyond has a minimum or $1,000. Estimates are free. Both companies are already up on rooftops and will be decorating until the first or second week of December.

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