Outdoor lighting is one of the most spectacular ways to set your home apart. The correct use of landscape lights on your home at night can make it look like a work of art. Pathway lights, patio lights, and accent lighting all combine to give your home a magazine cover-worthy appeal at night.
You might be interested in creating this kind of effect in your home because of the value it adds to the property. If you're thinking of listing your property for sale, consider the impression that a beautifully lit front yard achieves – you're getting potential buyers interested from the very start.
Planning Your Outdoor Lighting Project
Producing the right effect requires a well thought out plan. Consider the following three tips before you get started:
- Get a Team Together – Yes, you'll need an excellent electrical contractor to reliably and safely wire the lights, but what about design and landscaping? Some homeowners enjoy designing their own outdoor lighting installations, while others prefer to leave it to a professional. Consider how much time and effort you're willing to put into the project before you start planning it.
Generally, if you already like your yard and patio and do not wish to change anything, you can forego working with a landscaper and designer. However, if you wish to add in any landscaping elements or change important aspects of your home's exterior, you will definitely want to hire a professional for the job.
- Learn Your Lights – Electric lights have three fundamental qualities from a design perspective – intensity, color, and spread. Whether you are coming up with your own design or working with a professional landscape lighting designer, you should understand the basic nature of lighting and the terms used to describe lights' effects.
The intensity of a particular light bulb determines its purpose. Soft accent lights are dim, while task lights tend to be bright. Light bulb colors are measured in kelvins (K), ranging from 1800 (a deep red tone) to 7500 (bluish white). A light with a wide spread is ideal for illuminating a large area, while narrow spreads are better for lighting accents such as trees or other landscape elements.
- Don't Use Dimmers – Incandescent lights, when dimmed, produce an amber-colored light that makes green plants look sickly and ghoulish. To really bring out the best in your outdoor plants, you should use a blue color correcting filter on bulbs in the 7500 K range to produce the whitest possible light. The whiteness brings out the healthy green of plant leaves and contrasts well with the surrounding shadows.
Don't Forget Your Switches
When planning your outdoor lighting design project, don't forget about switch placement. You'll want switches on both sides of any walkway and multiple additional places from which you can turn on the lights – remember that you'll be experiencing them both from the inside and outside of your home.