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Issue Date: March 2006 Issue

Illuminating Ideas

Lynne Thompson
For Claudia Bjerre, replacing the small deck off the first floor of her Fairlawn colonial five years ago with an elaborate three-level counterpart was an absolute necessity. The space wasn't large enough to accommodate the number of guests invited to her warm-weather social functions, particularly an annual summer party attended by 70 people.

More importantly, Bjerre needed a way to get down to the back yard of her half-acre lot.
"From the top of the deck to the bottom of the deck, the drop is 41 feet," says the president of HealthCare USA, a Medicaid HMO based in St. Louis. "The space was totally unused."

She never considered outdoor lighting, however, until she attended a home and garden show shortly after the deck was completed.

"Then I wanted to do some type of lighting," she says. "But I wasn't sure what."

Rick Norwood of Outdoor Lighting Perspectives, a Strongsville franchise of the Charlotte, N.C.-based landscape lighting company that designed and installed Bjerre's system, first addressed the lack of light on the deck. Individual fixtures were strategically placed under railings along the deck's perimeter and on stairs so people could move around the structure easily and safely. As a result, the deck has become something of an architectural attraction in the neighborhood, a dramatic feature that people stop to check out as they drive by on a side road. A bridge over a small creek that runs through her back yard was also illuminated, as was a pergola in a remote corner of the lot. The lighting of various other trees completed the project.

Bjerre had wondered whether it would be possible to run wiring to the farthest reaches of her property, the bulk of which is behind the house. "But they did it," she says.

Cleaning fixtures, changing bulbs and such hasn't been a problem either, thanks to the maintenance contract she signed. In fact, she was so pleased with the outcome that she had outdoor lighting installed in her front yard once the landscaping was completed.

"Lighting makes everything look better," she declares. "The house looks better with the lights. At night, it's really beautiful."

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