In today's economy people are reluctant to move to the next bigger home or remodel their existing house. One way to get a lot of bang for your buck is to look and see what you have existing outside your windows. There is valuable real estate outside, waiting for an upgrade without a huge outlay of cash.
We are used to seeing our front yards and backyards during the day, but what happens at night is that they virtually disappear. This is called the 'black mirror' effect, where instead of seeing the view beyond you end up seeing your own reflection. By balancing the light inside and out you can take advantage of those exterior spaces at night. Not only will your interior rooms feel larger, but you will also have a greater sense of safety when you can see out into the yard space at night.
I recommend using two levels of illumination:
The first level would be a stronger layer of light coming from light fixtures mounted under the eaves of the roof. This lighting would be especially effective during those times of the year when the weather is too inclement to go outside.
The second level of illumination would involve the placement of light fixtures throughout the garden to provide up lighting for trees, highlighting sculpture and water features, adding task light for the barbecue and offering pathway lighting to get people safely from one area to the next. this is called 'light layering'.
A lighting designer or landscape designer who specializes in landscape lighting can help with the layout, showing where the lighting fixtures should be placed. Its best to put them in locations that prevents the light sources from causing glare for you and your neighbors.
With the correct lighting you can create outdoor rooms, which will expand your entertaining space without breaking the bank.