looking through a shade structure over a backyard pool complete with outdoor lighting at dusk

Tips for Dramatic Outdoor Lighting

Outdoor lighting is a great way to improve the appearance, safety and accessibility of your home and landscape.  Whether you have simple a simple walkway or a large outdoor living area, your outdoor space will benefit from being in the spotlight.  Like many projects, outdoor lighting can seem overwhelming but you don’t need to be afraid of the light!

Here are several things we consider when designing a new lighting project, they’ll help you, too.

Plan-  Like any project, without a plan you are sure to struggle.  What areas do you want to light?  How will these areas be used, after dark?  Are there specific architectural or landscape elements you want to highlight?  Are there safety or security concerns that lighting can help reduce?  Perhaps most importantly, how will your lighting affect your neighbors?  No one likes living next to a stadium!

Us or Them-  Consider the areas you want to light from both outside as a user and inside as an observer.  You may want to light specific elements of your landscape to be visible from inside the house while steps, driveways and walkways should be lighted not only for ambiance but also for accessibility and ease of use.

Subtlety is Sublime-  When it comes to outdoor lighting, shadows are equally as important as light.  Proper fixture placement plays a very important role in this balance.  You will also want to consider the brightness and “temperature” of the light:  cool and bright light has a very different feel than warm, soft light.

Uplighting, Downlighting, Spotlighting, Oh My!-  Use these techniques to provide dramatic light that accents without overwhelming.  Uplighting shines up from an unseen source to gently illuminate branch structure and foliage or Wash an area in broad light, while downlighting (sometimes called moonlighting) creates a very natural and diffused light from above.  Spotlighting is just what is sounds like, a focused light to showcase a specific feature.  Perhaps most dramatic is the use of Silhouetting where a fixture is placed behind or between two features and washes one with light while silhouetting the other.  Beautiful!

Power & Control-  Modern outdoor lighting is extremely reliable and efficient because of LED fixtures (Hively no longer installs incandescent lighting).  Continuing advancement in LED technology also allow for lights that can be dimmed and color shifted from a smartphone or wireless device.  Imagine being able to control your outdoor lighting and outdoor sound system from your device.  Now that’s beauty and power!

If you would like to consult our landscape lighting design experts about your project, we’d love to hear from you.  Please contact our office at 717-292-5696.  You can also browse the Artistic Lighting portfolio on our website for inspiration.