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Creating Custom Outdoor Lighting

Creating Custom Outdoor Lighting

When it comes to outdoor lighting, there’s no such thing as a cookie cutter approach. The best lighting designers know that any design needs to reflect the people who will be enjoying it. For some people, they are happiest when they can use their outdoor space for entertaining. The love to fire up the grill and have all their friends join them on a patio or deck. Other people want a tranquil garden retreat to unwind after a long, stressful day. Some people want to increase the curb appeal and nighttime beauty of their home. Finally, for some homeowners, security is the top priority. Whatever your priorities are, Night Vision Outdoor Lighting is the expert at creating custom outdoor lighting for your specific needs.

Creating Custom Outdoor Lighting [infographic]

Why Do You Want Outdoor Lighting

The first step in designing an outdoor lighting system is identifying your goals. Why do you want outdoor lighting? There doesn’t have to be just one answer. In fact, the best lighting designers can create a design that fulfills a variety of needs. However, when it comes to outdoor lighting, there are a few main categories that most lighting falls under.

  • Using Outdoor Spaces
  • Highlighting Gardens and Landscaping
  • Increasing Curb Appeal
  • Increasing Security and Safety

Let’s take a look at each of these types of goals to see how they can be achieved, both alone and in combination.

Using Outdoor Spaces

One of the hottest trends in home design is outdoor living. The trend has been growing for a few years and shows no sign of stopping. In fact, recent surveys show that new homebuyers rate outdoor living spaces as one of the most desirable features in a home. Outdoor living spaces are rate even higher than another trend, open layouts.

More recently, home designers are integrating a new concept borrowed from the Danish (and Scandinavian culture in general), hygge. Pronounced HOO-ga, hygge is a somewhat undefinable sense of comfort and coziness. When it comes to outdoor living, the goal is to make your outdoor living spaces warm, inviting, and comfortable spaces that rival your living room for relaxing comfort. This can include outdoor kitchens, fireplaces, furniture, and even rugs.

To carry that feeling of comfort into the night, you will need some expert outdoor lighting. Clearly, not all lighting is hygge. A single glaring spotlight, standard in many older homes, is not cozy at all. Instead, the designers at Night Vision Outdoor Lighting can work with you to install the exact lighting you want for your outdoor living.

Outdoor Kitchens

One great example of a flexible outdoor space is the outdoor kitchen. Outdoor kitchens are becoming more and more popular and involve a lot more than just a grill. Depending on your space and your budget, an outdoor kitchen can include a grill, a stovetop, a bar, and even a refrigerator to keep your drinks and ingredients cool. Many outdoor kitchens are covered. That allows you to cook in the heat of the day or even when it’s raining. They also include a seating area and an area for enjoying your meal.

Lighting an outdoor kitchen requires a flexible design. You want to have enough bright light to cook by, but you also want to be able to turn the lights down to a comfortable glow when it’s time to eat and relax. In many cases, this means dimmable lights. Another option is to have two sets of lights controlled separately, a bright overhead light for cooking and warmer, hidden lights for eating.

Lighting Gardens and Landscaping

While outdoor living often refers to decks, patios, and other seating areas, it can also include your garden and other landscaping. A garden can be an ideal place to retreat from the stresses of the outside world and find your perfect relaxation place. If you have a pergola or even just a simple bench, your garden can be a tranquil spot for finding your inner peace. But what happens when the sun goes down? Without proper lighting, your garden can become a dark abyss, where the shadows of your beloved plants make even just walking around a hazardous activity.

When it comes to lighting a garden, design is a major concern. Just installing some lights along paths and in seating areas is not enough. Your garden itself is the result of careful planning, cultivating, weeding, and gardening. Your lights should be just as thoughtfully installed. The goal with garden lighting is not to light up your whole garden. Instead, you want to use pools of light to highlight specific features, bushes, trees, or flower beds. The light itself should be a feature of the garden, creating a beautiful display.

If you have a path through your garden, it definitely needs to be lit well enough to traverse safely at night. But that doesn’t mean you need a garden light placed on either side of the path every three or four feet. Path lighting doesn’t need to be exact. Your garden is a place to experience nature, so your path lights should be as varied as nature itself. Think of the path lights as creating pools of light that draw you along that path, rather than lighting the path like an airport landing strip. If you like, you can even use a variety of light fixtures for a more whimsical approach.

Moon Lighting for Gardens

For a unique and beautiful effect in your garden, you can enhance or even replace path lighting with moon lighting. Moon lighting is used to mimic the light of a full moon on a clear night. Of course, not every night is like that, so outdoor lighting designers use moon lighting for that effect.

The effect of moon lighting is achieved by hiding lights high up in a tree, or under a soffit or elsewhere on your home if trees are unavailable. The lights are placed in fixtures specially designed to shine light downwards but not upwards or off to the side. This gentle light covers a broad area. The fixtures are fitted with lights in the 4000K range, which is slightly bluer than the standard 3000K lights common in outdoor lighting. This slightly bluish light replicates the look of moonlight. Although actual moonlight is not blue, the way the eye perceives the low light of the moon creates an optical illusion, making the light appear bluer than it is.

When you use moon lighting, you can often forgo path lighting completely. Instead, the cool, broad light of the moon lighting can be sufficient to walk around your garden safely. This effect is most often used in gardens where you want a natural feel, but it can also be used in other areas, especially decks, patios, and seating areas. If you have an area with an outdoor fireplace of other fire feature, moon lighting can be a pleasant and subtle source of light to complement the light of the fire.

Outdoor Lighting for Curb Appeal

One common request clients have is to make their home look beautiful from the street or as you approach it. This is somewhat different than other types of lighting because the light is not intended to make a space livable. Instead, it is meant to highlight the home and its unique features to create an artful and beautiful display.

The basic format of outdoor lighting for curb appeal is to have a palate of wash lighting complemented by directed uplighting and downlighting. Using this approach, a designer will start with broad lights, often called floodlights, in the 3000K range. The lights cover most of the facade of the home is a warm wash of light. Because of this, they are often called wash lights and the effect is called wash lighting. The wash lighting eliminates any harsh shadows and makes the home visible at night.

On top of the wash lighting, bullet lights can be installed either from the ground as uplighting or from above, such as under a soffit, as downlighting. The purpose of this light is to highlight unique architectural features. This type of lighting is often used on columns, dormers, or other features that stand out. The goal is to produce a balanced lighting scheme that eliminates dark shadows and guides the eye toward the home’s most beautiful features.

Outdoor Lighting for Security

Security is a major benefit of outdoor lighting. Often, the lighting that is installed for other reasons goes a long way toward providing security. If a home is well lit, it is a less appealing target to burglars and home intruders than a home that sits in the dark. It is simply harder to approach and flee unseen. It is also important to point out that security is relative. Even if your home is not entirely lit up, as long as it is better lit than your neighbors, it becomes an unwanted risk for criminals who could just as easily try another nearby home.

Security lighting often means lighting up dark spaces in the front and back of your home that could provide refuge to criminals. Lighting decks, patios, and rear or side entrances is a good place to start. Lighting driveways and entrances at the front of your home is also great for security. Some homeowners choose to install motion detecting lights that turn on when someone approaches.

In addition to preventing unwanted guests, part of security is creating safe passage for you, your family, and welcome guests. Sufficient path and porch lighting can make it safer to approach your home and prevent accidental falls or other hazards. This is true for any area your family and guests may walk. That includes front walkways, decks, patios, pool areas, and any outdoor stairs on your property.

Professional Outdoor Lighting Design

If you’ve read this far, you have probably begun to realize that outdoor lighting requires careful planning and design. Although some lighting can be installed as a do-it-yourself project, there is no replacement for the years of experience and thousands of jobs completed by a professional lighting designer. Night Vision Outdoor Lighting has installed over 5,000 outdoor lighting projects, making us some of the most experienced and knowledgeable outdoor lighting experts in the Southeast. So if you are considering outdoor lighting for your home, contact us today to schedule a free consultation.