Archive for

Outdoor Lighting – Expert Advice on Good Design and Avoiding Common Mistakes

Outdoor lighting is easy to install and do it yourself, but most of the time it is not the installation that people do wrong, it is the design. Placing lights outside is akin to painting a scenic picture of your home and its surroundings in the best possible light. A picture perfect home and landscape will have both high and low focal points of interest, much like a painting done by an artist. A strong and artistic composition in design and painting will lead the viewer’s eye through a scene. First the viewer will look at the most prominent high focal point in the outdoor lighting scene then the viewer will look around to less important areas depending on the intensity of the focal points and unique or dramatic features that make them standout in the landscape. To achieve a beautiful design for your landscape and home exterior it is necessary to have both high and low intensity illumination.

Outdoor lighting designers generally make the main doorway to the home the high focal point of the front view. The reason being is that the doorway is the welcoming place of your home. It is also the main gateway from the inside of your home to the outside world. Professional designers consider it the main activity area and thus the “center of interest.” Decorative light fixtures increase the aesthetic appeal and financial value of a home. They also heighten the security. The ornate and stylistic features of exterior lights are also appreciated during the day. Whether night or day, they give a home a beautiful refined look. Decorative exterior lights add another level of sophistication to a home and landscape. The key is to balance the lights that are brighter with those that are subtle.

Ornamental outdoor lights are generally designed to be used as the high focal points, and usually at least one is placed on a home. In your landscape, high focal points are made with accent, spot or post lights. Low voltage light fixtures are used to softly light up your landscape; the low focal areas of interest. Varying the illumination techniques and type of fixtures will arouse the interest of your viewers by creating different shadowing and illumination effects.

Usually a bad outdoor lighting design is a result of illuminating the scenic view of your home too much or too little. Too much illumination on the exterior of your home and landscape can make it look like a high security parking lot in which there is an excess of glare at the viewer and is more of a nuisance; not just to guests but also to neighbors. On a side note, a good rule of thumb is to never point light fixtures at your neighbor’s windows.

Insufficient illumination on a home or landscape usually creates an eery feeling. Often time, it is done by leaving the home or the landscape in the dark and seemingly disconnected. An excess of darkness in the landscape or on your home is also a security flaw. Ensuring that all steps, walkways and drives are properly illuminated also minimizes accidents. Meager illumination negatively affects the aesthetic appeal of your landscape and home and the safety of your loved ones.

Installing light fixtures outdoors can be easy. However, knowledge on common techniques and errors goes a long way to getting a professional designer appearance that will not look like you did it yourself.