Now You See It; Now You Don’t

You’ve seen some fabulous lighting applications in home design magazines and now you’d like to create that same magic around the exterior of your own home. With a little technical knowledge and some experimentation, you can create an inviting outdoor environment that will increase safety and security, provide easy driveway access, and enhance the beauty of your home both from the inside looking out and from the outside looking in.

How do these designer homes achieve such great lighting effects? The first thing to understand is the difference between “outdoor lighting” and “landscape lighting.” Outdoor lighting fixtures are highly decorative visual elements designed to coordinate with the architectural style of your home. They are made to be seen.

As a result, outdoor lighting designs run the gamut from traditional wrought-iron to highly polished contemporary styles. Outdoor fixtures can be hung from porch ceilings, installed on posts or columns, and are most often installed near entryways and garage doors. Outdoor lighting fixtures are the jewelry that provide a first impression about your home.

On the other hand, landscape lighting is designed to disappear. These fixtures are hung in trees, camouflaged as rocks, submerged in water or installed close to the ground to minimize them from view – leaving lighting designers free to create magical lighting effects that illuminate driveways and walking paths, accent architectural features, and highlight landscape. Properly specified and installed – outdoor and landscape lighting should work together to create a spectacular effect on the outside of your home.

What wattage bulbs should I use for Outdoor Lighting? It’s best to use low wattage (15 watt) bulbs in outdoor lanterns so you do not blind visitors arriving at your home. A light that is too bright is harsh and blinding at entranceways – it’s not a pretty sight.

Are LED bulbs useful for Outdoor and Landscape Lighting? LED is perfect for Outdoor and Landscape Lighting applications. Incandescent bulbs tend to have a shortened life when exposed to rigorous weather and they are time consuming to replace. LED bulbs now come in just about any configuration and once you install them, chances are you will never have to replace. If you already have landscape lighting installed, it is possible you can change out most incandescent bulbs with LED replacement bulbs.

How many Landscape Fixtures will I need? That depends on the areas that need to be addressed and the lighting effects you want to create. Try hanging fixtures in tress to create the feeling of moonlight and then add path lights where ever needed to illuminate steps or directional changes. Depending on your taste, you may want also want to try techniques like “up lighting” trees, “wall grazing” an interesting texture like stone walls, or “silhouetting” interesting landscape features.

Our lighting experts are available for outdoor and landscape lighting consultations – just give us a call or stop by and schedule an appointment. We look forward to helping you create a magical outdoor environment for your home.