As I’ve said in previous articles, lighting your home is both an art and a science. You want to achieve height, width, depth and texture with your lighting. This article will focus on creating an architectural lighting design plan for your outdoor lighting.
When you are lighting your house, you want to light it from top to bottom and end to end. The vertical lighting serves a more aesthetic purpose while the horizontal lighting serves the more practical purpose of safety and security.
Let’s start with vertical lighting. How do you go about diagramming which elements of the front of your home to illuminate? Take a look at this picture below.
If we had lighting design software and input the picture of the home above, the software would probably yield something similar to the image above. Let’s look at the vertical blue lines first.
When you look at the front of your home, you want to note all the key vertical lines made by not only the outside corners of your home but also by your front porch and varying reliefs of your home’s facade. So everywhere you see a line above is where you will want to place a well light that illuminates the vertical line. Depending on the amount of space in between the major verticals you have illuminated, you may need to place additional lighting so as to avoid any dark spots. This differs for each home but generally you don’t want to go more than 3-4 feet without adding another light. So, depending on the width of the foremost facade above, you would likely also have a light either between the two windows or below each of the windows.
The great thing about well lighting is the light source sits close to the home so you will not have any blinding light coming at you when you look out the window.
The next challenge is hitting all the verticals at the top of the home. Ledges, balconies, awnings, porch roofs and other architectural features can create a challenge in achieving illumination all the way to the top of your home. As I said above, this goal serves primarily an aesthetic purpose but if you’re designing custom exterior lighting, the last thing you want to to is fail to illuminate all of your home.
Take a look at this picture.
In the first picture above, you might have noticed the alert that the ledges would cause a challenge. This is because the light that sits below will get caught at this ledge and the areas above it will have dark spots. So, you will want to put some small lights above the ledges to illuminate all the way up to both roof tops.
What are your thoughts about this outdoor lighting design planning?
With outdoor lighting, it’s important to accentuate both the width and the height of home’s facade.
The best architectural lighting is done using well lights that are placed in fairly short proximity to the home. The benefits of well lights for architectural lighting are numerous. First, they cast a wide glow based on the shape of the mouth of the fixture. Secondly, the light angle can be adjusted and angled to illuminate particular architectural features such as columns very effectively.
One additional and very important benefit of well lighting is that the light is not cast into the eyes of the homeowner. Since the lights sit close to the home, and since the light is cast straight up, the owner can look out the window without having any light shining directly in their eyes.
The objective of architectural lighting is to illuminate the home’s features while being discreet as possible with the light source and ensuring that we achieve our objectives of lighting the home from side to side and all the way up to the roof lines.
Here is a home that provided a challenge for illuminating the roof line but there is a very good solution to overcome this challenge.
When the architectural lighting comes from below, your porch roof, 2nd story patios and other architectural elements that protrude from the house hinder the light from fully illuminating that vertical.
So, in order to overcome this challenge, have your outdoor lighting designer/installer place bullet lights at each side of the base of your roof line.
You’ll notice here that the bullet lights actually match the shade of the home. That’s no coincidence. These light fixtures were powder coated to match the exact shade of the home. If you’re like me, when you first saw the close-up of this picture, you went back to review the initial picture to see if you could find these fixtures in that photo. In fact, there are 4 of these fixtures. Each of the 2 protruding roof lines are illuminated by 2 powder coated bullet lights.Here’s another one for you. These lights are attached to this tree to shadow light or moon light the walkway below. This adds beauty, depth, dimension and last but not least – safety.
Now take a look at these trees from the bottom – can you find the fixtures you see in the close-up above?
It takes a little extra work to install roof line lighting and moon lighting but a professional outdoor lighting designer will be well equipped to not only install this type of lighting but to design the best custom solution for your home.
Look at the beautiful effect of moon lighting a tree.
Enjoy the texture that the soft tree branch shadows cast on your lawn, patio, deck or walkway while enjoying enhanced safety for walking and outdoor living areas.