5 Outdoor Lighting Tips to Make Your Home Stunning

November 5, 2020


What sets the most beautiful homes apart from others in your neighborhood? 
  • Architecture?
  • Landscaping?
  • Decoration?

For most homes, all of these elements come together to create a stunning home. That is, until the sun goes down. At night, you can't see any of these details. Unless you light them properly. - And we're not just talking rope lights for your landscape lights or deck stairs. 

Exterior lighting can add safety to your home and make it more secure. But it should also accentuate the unique features that make your home attractive during the day.

Whether you're hiring us or doing it yourself, follow these tips to make the most of your exterior lighting.

1 - Don't Just Rely on Floodlights

These powerful, bright fixtures, often found in big-box retail and home improvement stores, have gained popularity for their ability to illuminate large outdoor areas effectively. However, when it comes to outdoor lighting, relying solely on floodlights may not be the most practical or aesthetically pleasing choice. Here's why:

Blinding Brightness and Glare

Outdoor lighting tip number one seems simple enough, right? You may be surprised how often it's overlooked. Floodlights are known for their intense brightness, which can be blinding when positioned too close to living spaces or walkways. When these fixtures are aimed directly at eye level, the result is a harsh and uncomfortable glare. This can be not only annoying but also a safety concern, as glare can obscure vision and create unnecessary discomfort for residents and guests.

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Lack of Atmosphere

Floodlights are primarily designed for functional, utilitarian lighting. While they excel at illuminating large areas, they often fall short in creating a warm and inviting atmosphere. The overly bright and stark illumination they provide can make outdoor spaces feel cold and unwelcoming, which is the opposite of what most homeowners desire for their outdoor areas.

Overpowering and Uneven Lighting

Floodlights positioned too closely to the home can cast strong and uneven lighting, creating unattractive shadows and highlights on exterior walls. This can detract from the architectural beauty of your home and obscure its finer details. Moreover, the intensity of floodlights can overlight areas, making them uncomfortable for relaxation or socializing.

The Value of Mixing Fixtures

To create a more balanced and visually pleasing outdoor lighting scheme, it's advisable to mix different types of fixtures. Here's how this approach can benefit your outdoor spaces:

  1. Varied Lighting Effects: Different fixtures offer various lighting effects. For instance, path lights can softly illuminate walkways, creating a gentle guiding effect, while wall sconces can provide warm, ambient lighting for outdoor seating areas. Mixing fixtures allows you to tailor the lighting to the specific needs of each area.
  2. Reduced Glare: By incorporating fixtures with softer lighting, such as lanterns, wall washers, or step lights, you can reduce glare and create a more comfortable and visually pleasing environment.
  3. Enhanced Architectural Details: Using fixtures that highlight architectural details, such as uplights and wash lights, can accentuate the beauty of your home's façade. These fixtures can bring out the textures and contours of walls, columns, and other architectural elements.

2 - Focus on Unique Architectural Elements

While it's common to illuminate pathways leading from the driveway to the front door, truly showcasing the beauty of your home requires a more nuanced approach to outdoor lighting. Accent lighting, strategically applied to architectural and landscaping features, can create a stunning visual impact and set your home apart from the rest. Here are some creative outdoor lighting ideas to enhance the drama and elegance of your property:

Illuminating Architectural Facades

  • Washing Walls: One striking technique in outdoor accent lighting is wall washing. The gentle, uniform illumination not only highlights the texture and color of your home's surfaces but also creates a captivating play of light and shadow, adding depth and dimension to the façade.
  • Focusing on Unique Architectural Elements: Instead of uniformly lighting the entire exterior, pay special attention to distinctive architectural elements that contribute to your home's charm. Accent lighting fixtures can be used to draw attention to these features, allowing them to shine as focal points during the night.
  • Up-Lighting: Placing fixtures at the base of architectural elements, such as columns or statues, and directing the light upward can cast dramatic and dynamic shadows, adding a touch of theatricality to your home's nighttime appearance.

Not just Floodlights -Outdoor Lighting Tips

 Showcasing Landscape Lights

  • Highlighting Trees: Mature trees can be breathtaking focal points in your landscaping. Uplighting or placing fixtures within the canopy can not only add visual interest but also contribute to the overall ambiance of your outdoor space.
  • Garden Bed and Flower Illumination: Flower beds, shrubs, and ornamental plants can be highlighted with well-placed accent lighting. Ground-level fixtures or low-voltage lights can showcase the vibrant colors and textures of your garden, allowing it to flourish even in the dark.
  • Water Features: If you have water features like fountains, ponds, or waterfalls, submersible lights or fixtures positioned strategically around the water feature can create mesmerizing reflections and a soothing ambiance.

Outdoor Lighting Tips -Landscaping

Balancing Practicality and Aesthetics

We couldn't discuss outdoor lighting tips without mentioning their balance. While task lighting for pathways and functional areas is essential for safety, accent lighting adds a layer of aesthetic appeal. Consider using low-level path lights along walkways to guide guests and provide safety, and then strategically intersperse accent lighting to highlight focal points and architectural details.

3 - Make Sure it Matches

Selecting the right lighting fixtures isn't just about providing illumination; it's also about ensuring that your lighting choices harmonize with the overall style and aesthetics of your home. Is your home more traditional or modern? Ranch or American Colonial? Serenity by the sea or mountain retreat?

More design -Outdoor Lighting Tips

Here's why matching the style of your lighting fixtures to your home's design is crucial for creating a cohesive and visually pleasing environment:

Reflecting Your Home's Style

Every home has a distinct architectural style, whether it's traditional, modern, colonial, coastal, or something entirely unique. The choice of lighting fixtures should reflect and complement this style. Here's why this outdoor lighting tip matters:

  • Enhancing Aesthetic Appeal: Lighting fixtures that match your home's style enhance its aesthetic appeal. For example, traditional homes often feature classic and ornate fixtures that exude elegance, while modern homes favor sleek and minimalistic designs that contribute to a contemporary look.

  • Creating Visual Cohesion: When the lighting fixtures align with the architectural style, they create a sense of visual cohesion throughout the property. This unity fosters an atmosphere of balance and elegance, making the entire space feel well-designed and thoughtfully put together.

Design -Outdoor Lighting Tips

Avoiding Design Clashes

Mismatched lighting fixtures can disrupt the flow of your home's design. Consider these potential clashes:

  • Conflicting Styles: A modern, abstract wall sconce might feel out of place in a traditionally designed interior, creating a jarring juxtaposition of styles. Similarly, a rustic lantern pendant may clash with the clean lines of a contemporary home.

  • Color and Material Conflicts: The color and material of your lighting fixtures should complement the existing elements of your home. For instance, brass or antique finishes may work well in a traditional setting but could clash in a predominantly modern space

4 - Don't Overdo It, Especially for Entertaining

The last thing anyone wants to do when they're relaxing on a back patio is to shield their eyes from the light. Outdoor lighting tip #4? Subtle lighting goes a long way in outdoor dining areas, patios, or around the fire pit. It's essential to avoid overdoing it to achieve the perfect balance in various outdoor settings.

The Importance of Subtle Lighting

  • Comfortable Atmosphere: Excessive or overly bright outdoor lighting can be uncomfortable, harsh on the eyes, and detract from the overall atmosphere you want to create. Subtle lighting, however, allows for a more relaxed and inviting environment where people can unwind and enjoy themselves.
  • Highlighting the Nighttime Beauty: Subtle lighting allows you to highlight the beauty of your outdoor space at night without overwhelming it. It gently enhances the features of your landscape, architecture, and outdoor furnishings, creating a tranquil and visually appealing setting.

Backyard Living Space Outdoor Lighting Tips

Outdoor Dining Areas

  • Adjustable Illumination: An outdoor dining area benefits from adjustable lighting to cater to various moments during your gathering. For instance, when you're preparing and serving food, you'll want brighter lighting for safety and convenience. Dimmer switches provide the flexibility to lower the lighting as guests sit down to eat and relax.

  • Ambient Glow: Overhead string lights or softly glowing pendant fixtures can create an inviting and cozy atmosphere for dining al fresco. These fixtures provide a warm and even illumination that is perfect for intimate dinners and social gatherings.

  • Candlelight Effect: Consider incorporating flameless candles or lantern-style fixtures on dining tables. These not only add to the aesthetic appeal but also contribute to the overall mood, evoking the ambiance of candlelight without the safety concerns.

Pool Design -Outdoor Lighting Tips

Dimmer Switches

  • Customized Lighting Control: Dimmer switches offer a practical and elegant solution to control the intensity of your outdoor lighting. They allow you to adjust the brightness to suit different occasions and moods. For example, you can have full brightness while cooking and then gradually lower the lights as the evening progresses and relaxation takes center stage.
  • Energy Efficiency: Dimming your outdoor lights also conserves energy, extending the life of your bulbs and reducing electricity consumption. It's an eco-friendly choice that aligns with the principles of sustainable outdoor living.

5 - Ensure Your Safety

Our final outdoor lighting tip: Choosing the wrong lights could cost you. Every fixture should be rated appropriately for its installation location. Fixture ratings are not just technical jargon; they have a direct impact on the safety and performance of your outdoor lighting system. These ratings indicate where a particular light fixture can and cannot be safely installed. Ignoring these ratings can lead to various issues, from premature fixture failures to more serious electrical hazards.

Wet Ratings for Exposed Areas

Wet-rated fixtures are designed to withstand exposure to the elements. These fixtures are essential for outdoor areas that are fully exposed to rain, snow, and other weather conditions. This includes lights installed on the exterior of your house, landscape lighting fixtures that are exposed to the elements, and any other fixtures directly subjected to the weather.

Damp Ratings for Covered Areas

In areas where fixtures are sheltered from direct exposure to water, such as covered patios, porches, or alcoves, damp-rated fixtures may be suitable. Damp-rated fixtures can withstand moisture in the air but should not be exposed to direct rain or water contact.

The Risks of Ignoring Ratings

Ignoring fixture ratings can have serious consequences:

  • Early Failures: Inappropriate fixtures may fail prematurely due to exposure to moisture, leading to costly replacements and maintenance.
  • Electrical Hazards: The use of fixtures with inadequate ratings can result in electrical issues, including short circuits, electrical fires, or power surges. These hazards can pose significant risks to your property and safety.
  • Code Violations: Non-compliance with fixture ratings may lead to code violations and legal liabilities, potentially affecting insurance coverage and property resale value. Pay attention to the rating, and stay safe.

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Create a Captivating Atmosphere with Thoughtful Exterior Lighting

When night falls, the potential of your home's architectural beauty and landscaping features doesn't have to be lost to the darkness. With thoughtful and carefully planned exterior lighting, you can unlock a world of possibilities that go far beyond just providing illumination. 

You may not have the kind of experience and know-how it takes to create the kind of atmosphere you want for your outdoor space. There's no shame in it! When you're investing in your home, though, you want the best. When you call Light Up Nashville, you'll reach experts in:

Design and Aesthetics

Outdoor lighting isn't just about illuminating spaces; it's also about creating a specific ambiance and enhancing the visual appeal of your property. At Light Up Nashville, our experts have an eye for design and can strategically place fixtures to highlight architectural features, landscaping, and outdoor living areas. We consider factors such as beam angles, color temperatures, and fixture types to achieve the desired effect.

Time and Convenience

Installing outdoor lighting can be a time-consuming task, especially for those with limited experience. We can complete the installation efficiently, saving you time and allowing you to enjoy your outdoor spaces sooner. Additionally, hiring experts can eliminate the frustration and challenges associated with troubleshooting and fixing installation errors..


Light Up Nashville Can Help Make Your Home the Most Beautiful on the Block

If you have any questions or would like to discuss your lighting needs, please feel free to request a free consultation online.

We’re a local business that has been lighting up Nashville since 2012. Our team has years of experience creating and installing unique and elegant outdoor lighting designs and providing maintenance and repair services to homes and businesses across Middle Tennessee. Our award-winning company has been voted 1st in Nashville House & Home for landscape lights for four consecutive years and Best of Houzz for the last three years. 

Tags: Outdoor Lighting

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