During the warmer months, most of us tend to use our outdoor spaces at night in addition to in the day. Not much beats sitting on your patio in the evenings after work, or having your friends round for a barbecued dinner and hours of good conversation under the stars. Because you'll be using this part of your home in the dark though, you need to provide lighting, both for safety and aesthetics.
When planning how you'll light up your outdoor space, start by taking a walk around it in the daylight. Make note of special features in your garden that you may want to accentuate, such as a water fountain or a special flowerbed. Consider your home and if there are any architectural features you may want to draw attention to on the exterior. It's also important that you consider safety; pathways, driveways, and other places where people will walk in the dark need to be illuminated at night to prevent injury. And finally, don't forget to consider ambience! How will you be using these different outdoor areas? What kind of mood do you want the lighting to help set?
You also need to consider what type of lighting you need and want. The range of outdoor lighting products now available is extensive, offering different kinds of lighting and varying greatly in appearance (both the lights themselves and the result of their projected light).
Uplighting is when you place lights, such as well, bullet and wash lights, low to the ground, placed in such a way so that their light goes upwards, illuminating a specific object, such as a house feature or garden structure. This is recommended when you want to accentuate the structure of your home, draw attention to a tree (this helps prevent guests from accidentally walking into one!), or to put a bit of a spotlight on a particular feature in your garden.
Downlighting is usually placed in a tree (if you do this, be sure to uplight the trunk too) or on a part of our home, such as the peek of an eaves, to shine down on whatever it's above, such as your lawn, a pathway, or even the tree it's in (this can create a romantic, dreamy look). Because of the hard-to-reach location of this type of lighting, go with durable light fixtures and LED lightbulbs; you don't want to be climbing up there on a regular basis to replace them!
These two types of lighting require a low-voltage system, meaning they're running off of your home's power, but at a reduced current thanks to a transformer. You can install them yourself with careful research, or you can hire a professional. The latter is recommended if you have never done this before, or if you're starting from scratch and need to add light to your whole property. A professional is very knowledgeable about what kind of lighting to use where, and they'll ensure everything is installed safely. When it comes to your home's electrics, you don't want to take any chances.
For low-maintenance lighting that you can easily install yourself, look to solar lighting. Available in a plethora of styles and designs, these lights collect energy from the sun's rays during the day, storing it to be used at night. Because they don't connect to a power source, there are no cords or major installation required. As long as you place them where the sun can reach them, they'll shine! These are great for adding soft but handy lighting to a walkway, shining down on your flowerbeds to showcase your green thumb, adding light to your outdoor table for eating, and adding ambiance to your outdoor space. Solar lights are available in many decorative styles, so they also add some art to your outdoor space (art which will look lovely in the day or night!).
With any outdoor lighting, be conscious of whether it is shining in at your neighbours, or how it's beaming into your own home. You want to light up your summer evenings, but in a way that is respectful and considerate to those around you.
Just as with a room in your home, you design your outdoor spaces, and lighting plays a significant role in the end result. Keep your summer shining in safety and style!
Originally Published by The Chronicle Herald - June 26, 2014
Alexandra Kelter is a social media specialist with Central Home Improvements. Her column covers many aspects of home improvement, both indoor and outdoor, and will combine trending styles with practical applications all within realistic budgets. Kelter is also passionate about fashion, travel, living by the ocean and her bulldog.