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  Tuesday, April 15, 2014  
   
 

 
Outdoor Lighting
Beauty, Usability, and Safety
 

From your front door to your backyard deck, lighting plays a large role in the beauty, usability, and safety of your outdoor living space.

With the summer heat slowly melting away it is no longer necessary to take refuge from the sweltering sun indoors. One pitfall to outdoor entertaining can be poor lighting. With the proper lighting, and maybe a few extra layers of clothes, the party can continue outdoors long after the sun sets.

From your front door to your backyard deck, lighting plays a large role in the beauty, usability, and safety of your outdoor living space. Small changes in lighting can drastically increase your homes curb appeal and the way you enjoy your outdoor spaces.

Over the years outdoor living has become a lot more sophisticated. People now have outdoor kitchens and living rooms, and with the trend to decorate these spaces it is beginning to get a lot harder to tell the outdoor spaces from the interior spaces. There has been a definite focus on decorative accents outside, especially lighting.


In years past, outdoor lighting was primarily used to show off the gardens and landscaping. Today people want innovative ways to add light to their outdoor spaces so they can be used at night just as they are used during the day.

Each year a new wave of products is hitting the shelves to do just that. We are beginning to see new and creative outdoor lighting options available in just about every retail environment.

The extended outdoor lighting selection is a testament to how much we love to spend our time outdoors. The cool 72 degrees inside pales in comparison to the gentle breeze off the river on a late summer evening.

There are three main areas where outdoor lighting is a must; the walk to your home, your landscaping, and your outdoor entertaining area.

Light the Way

Night time visitors should feel welcomed with lights as soon as their car stops in front of your home. That means driveways and walkways leading to your front door should be well lit to ensure safe footing, yet not so bright as to over power the main lights at your front door.

There are a variety of options available to light your walkway. Styles range from small globes to hanging lanterns. The options available for powering your lights also vary. You could have an electrician install pathway lights that can be turned on and off with the flick of a switch inside. Other options include easy to install low voltage lights, and even easier to install solar powered lights.

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, balanced glow while ensuring the safety of those who enter. If your home has a porch or overhang there are even more options; recessed lighting or hanging a lighting fixture.

Light the Landscape

When it comes to landscape lighting, many homeowners tend to forget about the backyard. Adding lighting to the landscaping in front of your home is a great way to add beauty street side for those driving by, but why not add lighting to your landscape out back for your friends and family to enjoy while barbequing.

While simple canister lights, directed on key landscape elements like trees or planting beds, can create drama for your home’s façade, don’t overlook the value of more whimsical choices for lighting your backyard. Maybe instead of canister lights in your backyard add a few low voltage lights to your flowerbeds and shrubs in the backyard to enjoy their beauty after the sun goes down.

It makes sense to use more powerful, practical lights where guests may be traveling from their car to the house. However, in the backyard try something more subtle in seating areas or walkways. For example, try using path lights shaped like flowers in your flowerbeds.

Deck it Out

If the kitchen is the heart of a home, a great deck is its crowning glory. Just as you employ lighting to create usability, mood, and appeal to your kitchen, the right lighting outdoors can enhance the safety and enjoyment of your deck.

Backyard decks no longer have just a small light near the door. Innovative ideas are popping up all around like attaching lights to trees or chimneys and having the light shine down on the space. Step lights are also beginning to take off. In decks with multiple levels step lights make the transition from one level to the next a lot easier.

There are numerous ways to light your deck, from lanterns that sit on the post caps of your deck rails to outdoor lamps that work with your outdoor furniture much like indoor lamps. Another hot trend is to add lighting to the rails surrounding your deck. There are a plethora of strand options available from basic to twinkling to shapes like flowers or animals.

With the rise in outdoor entertaining areas, lighting has become increasingly important. In order for areas like outdoor kitchens to be functional, lighting is a must. We are beginning to see lights hanging down above grills, sinks, and counters. These lights all can be installed with dimmers to brightly light the space during meal time, and after dinner lower the lights for ambiance.

Another great light source for your outdoor living area is ceiling fans. These have the ability to add layers to your lighting and a breeze on those still nights. Ceiling fans are beginning to pop up all over outdoors; in gazebos, screened porches, and even decks or patios with overhangs. Many of the fans that you love for the indoors can be used outdoors with the proper wiring, there are even lines available that are made strictly to be used outdoors.

It doesn’t matter where in the country you live, when you visit an outdoor living room you will find decorative lamps, sconces, and other light fixtures to help make the outdoor area even more inviting.

Outdoor lighting has come a long way from just flood lights beside the garage doors. We are seeing them used to enhance our outdoor lifestyles and our safety. Outdoor light fixtures have also become so stylish that they are now a nicety, instead of just a necessity, used in outdoor décor.

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