We’re deep into winter, and you may be thinking about cozying up in the warmth of your house. But just because the weather has cooled off, you don’t have to abandon your outdoor living spaces. In fact, some outdoor living spaces do great in the colder months. Your outdoor living spaces are meant to be an extension of your home, so setting them up for colder weather is an absolute necessity. Lighting outdoor living spaces becomes even more critical in the winter. As the days grow shorter and darker, lighting outdoor living spaces is the only way to enjoy them. If you’re like many homeowners, the sun has already set by the time you get home from work, so you need that extra light.
Lighting Different Types of Outdoor Living Spaces
Too often, homeowners give up on outdoor living in the winter, but some spaces are great for cold weather. If you have an outdoor fire pit or fireplace, roasting smores on a chilly night can be a great activity for family and friends. Bring out some hot cocoa, and you’ve got yourself a magical evening.
It is becoming increasingly common for some outdoor spaces to be treated as outdoor rooms. This is a little different than a typical deck or patio. These are usually covered areas with a solid roof and good protection from the elements. The outdoor room is treated similarly to an indoor room, complete with furniture and lighting. If you have an outdoor room, there is no need to abandon it in the winter. Just like an indoor room, you can actually heat a well-sheltered outdoor room.
Hot tubs and spas are unique outdoor spaces that can be especially fun in the winter months. Taking a hot soak on a cold night is a great way to relax and enjoy the winter weather. With the right lighting, your spa can be a year-round attraction.
Lighting an Outdoor Fire Feature
Lighting outdoor living spaces in the winter is a great way to create a cozy atmosphere to enjoy your prized outdoor features. If you have a fire feature, there is no reason not to light it up all winter long. Of course, a fire is its own heat source, so cozying up to a great fire feature will keep you and your guests warm. And although a fire feature is also a source of light, without additional lighting you would still be left mostly in the dark.
Lighting an outdoor fire feature has two main components, accent lighting around the hardscape and ambient lighting.
Just a little subtle accent lighting can bring out the full beauty of an outdoor fireplace, stone wall, firepit, or any other structure that is part of your fire feature. Accent lighting on a fireplace and the attached hardscaping is best installed when the feature is being built. However, it is possible to add lighting after the fact. Night Vision Outdoor Lighting is experienced at installing both types of lighting.
An excellent place to start with fire feature accent lighting is with some well-lighting or hidden bullet lights. These lights can graze your fireplace and bring out its natural textures. In addition to grazing the fireplace, you can install recessed lighting under the fireplace mantle or under the lip of any attached walls for added light. You may want to consider LED strip lighting for this purpose, too.
Ambient Lighting for Outdoor Living Spaces with Fire Features
In addition to the accent lighting, you will need some ambient light so that you and your guests can see the area around them and navigate safely at night. Ambient lighting around a fire feature can be done with strategic downlighting. As with most ambient lighting, the downlighting around your fireplace should focus on the light more than on the fixtures. Find tall trees, gazebos, or even parts of your home where you can hide an unassuming fixture. It’s important to use a few fixtures from different angles to avoid deep shadows.
Another option that can be used in place of downlighting or in combination with it is a few feature fixtures. These are decorative fixtures that enhance the design of your outdoor space as well as adding light. For a more traditional look, carriage lanterns can be installed on columns or at edges of walls. For other styles, just switch up the fixture style. Adding a feature fixture, or a few fixtures, is a great way to add interest and design while you’re lighting outdoor living spaces.
Lighting Outdoor Rooms
If you have a relatively well-sheltered part of your outdoor living space, you may consider creating an outdoor room. Outdoor rooms are often built in places will a solid roof, like a covered porch or pavilion, or on the ground level under a deck. If you start to think about the outdoor room as an extension of your indoor living space, lighting these outdoor living spaces takes on a whole new meaning. You can use indoor-style fixtures, as long as they are rated for damp use (in a well-protected area) or wet use (anywhere rain might reach).
Outdoor rooms in the winter can actually be heated. Tall standing outdoor heaters like the ones you may see in restaurants or bars can be purchased for home use. They are not prohibitively expensive, and even one or two can really warm an outdoor room in the winter. In addition to your heaters, outdoor rooms can be outfitted with ceiling fans. Just like you would indoors, set your outdoor ceiling fan to turn the opposite direction in the winter to direct warm air back down into the living space.
Lighting outdoor living spaces that are used as outdoor rooms can be lots of fun. You may want to consider standing lamps, table lamps, or even a chandelier. Just make sure that everything is rated for damp or wet use. Lamps should have heavy bases that help keep them in place on windy days. Any cloth-type lampshades should be made of waterproof, stain-resistant, fade-resistant materials. There are many styles available and Night Vision Outdoor Lighting can help you find the best fixtures for your style and taste.
Lighting a Spa or Hot Tub
There is something luxurious about settling into a steaming hot tub on a cold winter evening. So if you have a spa or hot tub, you definitely want to have the right lighting to make it available any time of day or night. The main concern with lighting outdoor living spaces around a hot tub is safety. Any time you are around water, even as shallow as a hot tub, it is vital that you can clearly see the edge of the water. Slips and falls can be painful and dangerous. Also, it is very likely that you will be moving around the spa or hot tub area barefoot. You need to be able to see what’s on the ground to avoid stepping on something unpleasant or stubbing a toe.
As we’ve mentioned about pool lighting, well lights are a great fixture for lighting around the deck of a pool or hot tub. These lights are completely recessed into the ground. They can create a lot of light without becoming tripping hazards themselves. Some hidden downlighting is also a great way to shine a broad light on the area around your hot tub or spa. When lighting outdoor living spaces around a hot tub, it’s important not to overdo it. Part of the luxury of sitting in a hot tub at night is enjoying the nighttime. Only install as much lighting as you need to be safe.
A great way to take the resort-style luxury up a notch is to install underwater lighting inside the hot tub. Underwater lights can create a magical glow in and around your hot tub. They can also make the water much easier to see, helping to prevent accidents. They also reduce the need for ambient light while you are in the hot tub.
Professional Lighting for Outdoor Living Spaces
Lighting outdoor living spaces is a great way to bridge the indoors and outdoors areas of your home. Even in the colder winter months, you can enjoy your outdoor living areas at night. With a little professional help from Night Vision Outdoor Lighting, you can get it right the first time. Your outdoor living spaces will look and feel like a high-end resort with just the right lighting for each space. Contact us today to find out how you can start lighting your outdoor living spaces like the pros.