Throughout the seasons, a variety of carefully placed fixtures and focused lighting can enhance your home’s outdoor ambience as well as nighttime safety. The American Lighting Association offers the following tips and benefits of exterior lighting:
1. Improve navigation.
Lighting is typically layered into a room or outdoor space in three ways: overhead, task and ambient. Use overhead lighting for visibility of steps, paths and walking surfaces. Focus especially on areas where there’s a bend, intersection or approaching stairs.
2. Enhance security.
Improve visibility and security combining a motion detector with a sconce in dark corners or near entrances, such as on either side of the front entry door, outside the garage, etc. Under a porch or other overhang, you can use recessed, chain-hung or close-to-ceiling fixtures. A separate rear or side entrance can be lighted with a single wall lantern installed on the keyhole side of the door. Illuminate any side of the house that would otherwise be in shadow; spotlights installed on your eaves will accomplish this, or, for a more dramatic look, consider ground lights pointed up to graze your walls.
3. Create outdoor rooms.
Lighting at the borders of a space creates barriers, both vertically and horizontally, such as lights in a tree or accent lights edging a deck or patio.
4. Reduce glare with well-placed lighting.
Light along paths should be cast downward, with fixtures, such as Dark Sky-compliant versions, that are hooded. If appropriate, exterior-safe dimmers can provide flexible control over the level of light, as can moveable fixtures that can be used on a patio or porch as needed. To conserve energy, install a sensor that will switch on the light only at night or upon motion. If using uplighting, aim the fixtures so that the light is captured by the eaves to lessen light pollution.
5. Highlight decorative elements.
Just as arbors, pergolas and other outdoor elements enhance an outdoor space, so too can lighting contribute to a well-designed landscape. Consider highlighting architectural details and natural features. For example, step lights are essential for safe passage, but can also highlight molding or trim details. For a pergola, over a deck or in a gazebo, an outdoor-compliant chandelier can be a wonderful accent and a way to spotlight the overhead structure and flowering vines.
6. Enhance inside views with outdoor lighting.
It’s often an afterthought, but enhancing the views from inside the house is a natural fit for outdoor lighting. To illuminate views you can enjoy from inside your home, layer in a variety of lights—spotlights on trees, lights dotted along pathways and accent lights on unique landscape features.
For more information, visit americanlightingassoc.com.
By Hillary Black
Photography by Jaimee Itagaki