Brightly welcome your house guests this winter

Putting out the welcome mat for guests means making sure visitors to your home can see the house, negotiate the walkways and feel welcomed by the light radiating from your home. During the winter months, you might need to update your outdoor and indoor lighting scheme to create a welcoming ambiance.

"Well-lit homes, with highlighted walkways and illuminated doorways, make a visitor feel much more welcomed, especially when the sun goes down very early in the evening during the winter," says Daniel Auer, a lighting expert with

He offers a few money-saving tips and trend ideas for improving the lighting inside and outside your home:

* Light the way: If your home currently has just one lantern next to the door, consider replacing it with matching lanterns. Flanking the door with matching lights will create a warm, even glow while assuring the safety of those who enter. If your home has a porch or overhang, you have even more options: a recessed, chain-hung or ceiling fixture.

* Bring the party into the night: If you have a three-seasons room, ceiling fans are a great way to add multiple layers of lighting - not to mention comfort. Any fan that you love indoors can easily be used in a three-seasons room with the proper wiring. What's more, most fans offer dimmer options so you can adjust the light levels to match the mood of your gathering. Fans with blades that evoke the look of leaves or fern fronds are particularly attractive in these indoor/outdoor rooms, helping underscore the natural appeal of the space, making it a perfect gathering spot for your party.

* Great indoor lighting makes a glowing first impression. With cold, rosy cheeks, your winter visitors will be looking for a warm welcome into your house. Create this ambiance with a spectacular hanging lantern, a multi-tiered chandelier or a large foyer fixture, which offers height and scale plus excellent general lighting. To top off the look, consider adding matching wall sconces. Nothing says welcome better than a warmly lit home.

* Skip the stores and shop online: Comparison shopping for home improvement items has never been easier thanks to the Internet. You can find the right items fast, without wasting time and gas driving from store to store. With specialty websites like, you can utilize a variety of tools to find those walkway lights, garage lights, ceiling lights or fans for a great price.

The website allows you to shop by room, style and finish, brand name or price range with an inventory much larger than any brick and mortar store. If you need assistance, simply call the phone number for quick and personal service. By being able to quickly compare options, you'll find the right lighting for any area of your home for less.

"Creating a warm, welcoming ambiance to your home will make your guests feel brighter and happier as they approach the front door," says Auer. "It also can help provide safety, so you don't have anyone tripping along the front walkway, which will make everyone's holidays just a little bit nicer."