Blog

Unique Outdoor Lighting Ideas

Unique Outdoor Lighting Ideas

Outdoor lighting is there to make your home look great at night. Of course, there’s good lighting, and there’s great lighting. So what’s the difference? You know it when you see it, but it’s not always easy to pinpoint. Good lighting checks all the boxes and lights up all the right things: walkways, trees, columns, entryways. But good lighting can still be cookie cutter. Lighting designers do thousands of homes, and eventually, they can fall into a rut. On the other hand, great lighting is as unique as the homeowners. It’s a little something extra, some added magic. It’s using light in ways you haven’t seen before, or you don’t expect. So what’s the trick to unique outdoor lighting? It’s a mixture of experience and creativity. And that’s what you get from Night Vision Outdoor lighting: unique outdoor lighting to set your home apart.

Unique Landscape Lighting

If you’re planning a landscape lighting project, you don’t want it to look like every other house on the block. You want unique outdoor lighting that reflects your unique personality and makes your house stand out. That’s why you need the expertise of the Night Vision Outdoor Lighting team. We work with you, starting with an in-depth consultation and frank conversation. We can help determine what is special about your home and your property. Then we can bring out that specialness and even add to it. The key is to think outside the box. Unique outdoor lighting ideas require good planning and creativity, and that’s just what we do.

Unique Outdoor Lighting Ideas [infographic]

 

Types of Outdoor Lighting

To build a unique outdoor lighting design, you need to start by identifying your toolbox. In this case, the toolbox you have is the wide variety of outdoor lighting. The trick is to think of your property as a canvas and the different types of outdoor lighting as your paint brushes or colors. By mixing and combining all these types of light, you can build unique outdoor lighting like painting a masterpiece.

So here are some of your main tools or paints, if you will:

  • Flood Lights – Wide-angle, usually bright lights that spread a lot of light over a large area
  • Bullet Lights – Narrow-angle, directed lights that highlight a particular area
  • Well Lights – Light fixtures that are partly or completely sunk into the ground
  • Sconces – Large and small, these are fixtures that attach to a wall
  • Path Lights – Usually short fixtures that are meant to be seen and illuminate the area around them
  • Bollard Lights – A post with a light inside of it, similar in size and function to path lights
  • Cap Lights – specialized lighting fixtures that are built into the caps posts, such as on a deck or stairway railing

There are other specialized types of lighting, but we’ll start with these. Using these types of lighting, there are many techniques that can be combined for unique outdoor lighting.

Wash Lighting The Facade of Your Home

One of the main areas most lighting systems are designed for is the facade of your home. A unique outdoor lighting design must include a way to illuminate this most visible area of your home. There are some general techniques that most lighting designers use, but some minor tweaks can create the customization you need for genuinely unique outdoor lighting.

Start by laying down a foundation. This is the background of your painting. In most cases, the foundation or background of your lighting design is some wash lighting over the facade of your home. Using floodlights, shine a warm light over the whole facade of your home. Place the lights a short distance from the home on the ground facing up. This will give the effect of washing over the home with light. It will also pick up and accentuate any texture on the home, such as brick, stone, or textured siding. A base of wash lighting helps prevent deep shadows and spots of light that can make your home look patchy.

Unique Outdoor Lighting Ideas for the Details of Your Facade

Over the base of wash lighting, you can start to add highlights. Deciding what to highlight is a great way to emphasize your unique outdoor lighting design. If you have large, chunky architectural features, it’s good to start be lighting those. For example, columns can be illuminated with a strategically placed bullet light. Most lighting designers will opt for uplighting form a bullet light hidden a short distance from the base of the column. But that’s not the only option. You can also use recessed soffit lights to downlight columns for a unique look. In some instances, you may even use sconces that are shaped to send light both upward and downward along the column.

Continue this theme by identifying and illuminating the unique characteristics of your home’s architecture. This could be a dormer, large rafters, or unique architectural embellishments. If you have texture on your home, such as brick, stone, or another uneven surface, this is your chance to show off the texture in an interplay of light and shadow.

Landscape Lighting Around Your Home

Once you’ve lit the facade of your home, you can turn to the property around it. A unique outdoor lighting design can really spring to life when it comes to how you light the surrounding greenery.

Start by identifying large features you can accentuate. A tree or large bush can become a piece of art if properly illuminated. One unique outdoor lighting trick is silhouetting. To achieve this look, place a flood or bullet light behind the tree, depending on its size. This will bring out the unique shape of a showpiece tree. Another option is to use shadowing. Shadowing in the opposite of silhouetting. It is best used when a feature is a small distance from a large wall. Place a bullet or floodlight in front of the tree, casting a large shadow on the wall behind it. When done correctly, shadowing creates a unique outdoor lighting feature that was completely hidden during daylight. If the tree moves with a breeze, it can create a show of light and dark on the wall behind it.

Custom Pathway Lighting

Pathway lighting is different than many types of outdoor lighting because the fixtures are meant to be seen. In fact, the choice of pathway lighting fixtures is a major design choice. There are literally thousands of fixtures out there, so start by deciding on a general style. If your home is sleek and modern, look at modern fixtures with bold geometric shapes. If your home is more of a cozy cottage, look at vintage or rustic fixtures. Ultimately, which fixtures you choose is up to you, but don’t think you have to settle for just one design. One trick for creating really unique outdoor lighting is to mix and match your pathway lights.

Many homeowners, and even lighting designers, get pathway lighting completely wrong. The wrong way to do pathway lighting is what we like to call the landing strip effect—two parallel rows of evenly spaced lights along a walkway, perfect for landing a jet plane on a dark night. Instead, think of pathway lighting as small pools of light that beckon you along the path. Pathway lighting needs to be bright enough to illuminate the walkway and reveal any small steps or obstacles, but no much more. If you have flowers or small plants around your walkway, you can also use your pathway lights to illuminate your favorite little mini-gardens.

To learn more about pathway lighting, check out this recent blog post all about pathway lighting.

Unique Outdoor Lighting for Decks and Living Spaces

If you have outdoor living spaces, you need to be lighting those. One of the most important functions of outdoor lighting is to make your outdoor living spaces usable at night. The options for how to do that, though, are almost endless. This is a great place to let your unique outdoor lighting style shine.

If you’re lighting a deck, post cap lights are a great way to put light where you don’t expect it. There are hundreds of different styles of post cap lighting fixtures. Choosing a fixture is similar to choosing pathway light fixtures. These lights should be bright enough to light up the ground around them, but they will rarely be enough to light up a living area completely.

One unique outdoor lighting technique that we love at Night Vision Outdoor Lighting is moonlighting. This technique uses downlighting from hidden fixtures to mimic the light of the full moon. One advantage of using moonlighting is that it provides enough light to see over a large area. That frees you up to use unique outdoor lighting fixtures and techniques that don’t have to illuminate a large area.

Never Cookie Cutter

Whatever choices you make to create unique outdoor lighting, you can always benefit from a little professional help. We’ve installed thousands of unique outdoor lighting systems, so we know all the options. We’ll partner with you to create the perfect outdoor lighting system for your home and property. It’s never cookie cutter.

So if you’re ready to install some unique outdoor lighting and bring a little magic to your home, contact us today. We’ll schedule your free consultation and get started on your unique outdoor lighting dream.