Fresh Up Dance Party

In celebration of the Bahamian “fresh up” attitude, the MFA presents a tropical-themed party from 7 to 10 pm July 29 featuring DJ, dancing, and Bahamian-influenced cuisine and drinks. Don your best Going Out Clothes as you and your friends will be mingling with featured artist Gio Swaby!   

Looking for inspiration? Summery bright colors, floral prints, enamel jewelry, and straw bags are traditional. The party happens in the museum Conservatory; tickets are $30 for non-members with admission applied to the cost of a new membership. Go to https://mfastpete.org/event/fresh-up-dance-party/    

Night Lights

Homeowners turn to decorating professionals for effortless holiday lighting. 

By Nick Steele

GRAND
Kitchen + Bath

Renovations + Designs + Installation

While St. Pete is not home to those picture-perfect Winter Wonderland scenes draped in a mantle of snow, locals do have their own way of making the season feel merry and bright. For many, conjuring a festive feeling means adorning their homes and yards with cheerful holiday lights. From eye-popping installations to quietly elegant displays, we love to indulge in the art of illumination.

If you want to get in on the action but aren’t sure where to start, landscape designer, former garden editor for Sunset Magazine, and Houzz.com contributor Lauren Dunec Hoang offers a few pro tips to consider. An easy yet impactful example is to line your walkways with paper lanterns.

“Welcome guests this year with an enchanting walkway lined with glowing luminarias,” she suggests. If you are worried about any potential fire risk involved with these traditional holiday lanterns made from weighted paper bags with a votive candle set inside, she recommends using either solar powered lights or flameless LED tealights in place.

Another of her top tips is to outline the roof of your home with simple white holiday lights, stretched beneath the eaves, to create a  stylish statement that will highlight your home’s architectural features once the sun goes down.

She also proposes bringing in expert help when your goals exceed your capabilities.

“As anyone who has untangled a snarled string of lights or come up 5 feet short on the roofline can attest, the process of hanging holiday lights is more complicated than it looks,” Hoang asserts. “A satisfying result depends both on having the right products on hand as well as proper installation.”

Among the top reasons to consider hiring a local lighting professional are safety, energy efficiency and the experience they offer in creating tailored custom designs.

We spoke with Nick Schriver from Decorating Elves, a local, full service, outdoor lighting and holiday décor lighting company that works with both residential and commercial clients, to learn what’s entailed with professional installations.

For Schriver, who began his foray into holiday lighting when he was attending Ohio State University where he studied landscape architecture and business, the goal is to create a festive design that meets your expectations and showcases your home without any stress.

“We're trying to create that beautiful picture-postcard look,” he explains. “When our clients turn the corner and see their house, we want our homeowners to feel really great about what they see and also ensure that the design is integrated into the community.”

Schriver describes their approach as collaborative and says his team begins by meeting with the client to discuss their vision and figure out just what they want to achieve.

“We will give them our recommendations and explain the options,” he states. “Once we agree on everything, we come back and do the install. We bring everything necessary to create the design. My team does the installation, automates everything and we come back, as needed, throughout the season to service it. In January, we return to take everything down and take it all away.”

After almost two decades distinguishing themselves in the industry, Schriver says that Decorating Elves has many returning customers who have been with them from the start. 

“Our goal is to continue our relationship with our clients season after season,” he declares. “We've got about an 85 to 90% renewal rate.”

He says the secret to maintaining successful long-term relationships with their clients can be found in their commitment to bringing the homeowner’s vision to life to ensure they feel a strong “emotional connection” to the finished project, whether the goal is to create a high impact "talk of the town” installation or a sense of serenity through a sophisticated design.

“A lot of times we're doing something similar to what we did in previous seasons, but every season we approach it differently to make sure that our standards, the quality of our work and the overall design is up to speed.”

A big staple of their designs are the traditional elements, from lighting roof lines and hedges, to wrapping palms and oaks.

“Properly installed tree lighting is an art and creates a significant visual impact,” Schriver professes. “They are big pieces and each tree is different. There’s not one uniform design for every tree, so there are adjustments you have to make as it is a living thing with an individual shape, so it takes precision to pull off certain looks. We train all our people to understand this and make sure that things are very even and very clean, but still work with the organic elements of each tree.”

He says that some of the popular new trends include suspending twinkly star-like LED spritzer lights from trees or eves or cascading LED meteor shower lights.

But it is not just about beautification, Schriver says, Decorating Elves ensures that safety, security, ease of use and energy efficiency are also considered when managing lighting projects for their clients.   

Of course, all this comes at a significant cost and scale is a consideration.

“We typically focus on bigger residential projects,” he explains. “So, the budget for our residential customers usually starts somewhere in the $2,000 to $5,000  range.”

As far as his favorite projects are concerned, Schriver says they are those where he has been able to see children enjoying what they have created. He is also proud when one of their designs is singled out by the local media for coverage.

“Our customers have a very good chance of winning some of those accolades,” he declares.  “Sometimes that's what they're paying us for and other times it’s just a result of the impact of the design. But in the end, every project is special and significant to us.” 

With that spirit in mind, whether you decide to DIY it or hire a professional to make your holiday lighting dreams a reality, it is certain to be a shining season.