1. What’s the style of my home?
Whether your home is a petite California bungalow or a tall, stately Georgian, it has a look all its own, and you’ll want lighting to match. First consider the overall style: is it more modern looking or traditional? Then consider the colors used in stonework, siding and roofing. Earth tones, beiges and red brick work best with lighting in similar finishes such as bronze, brass or copper. If your home features slate, black or grey tones, choose lighting with a black, pewter, chrome, nickel, zinc or white finish.
Finally, don’t forget proportions. If your home was built between 1950 and 2004, it is likely to have 8’-0” interior ceilings. That means the exterior elevation of the home is a bit shallower than older and newer homes. Lighting that is shorter will look best on this size architecture. For newer and a great majority of older homes, taller lighting may look better. Townhomes also demand taller, narrower proportions in lighting.
2. Where do I need to add light?
The key to an aesthetically pleasing lighting plan is to place light throughout your exterior spaces: a porch light usually isn’t enough.
The good news: most lighting is available in families, offering fully coordinating fixtures and sizes for different locations.
Here’s a good rule of thumb when selecting what to use where:
Venetian Rain Collection
3. How much is too much?
Ever turn on a bathroom light at 2 a.m.? “More light” does not necessarily mean “better light” – and the same is true when it comes to your exterior lighting choices. More light, especially when combined with translucent glass, can typically mean harsh glare. When choosing your outdoor fixtures, consider the light bulbs you use. Lower lumen lamps will provide a soft glow that complements a home and delivers just the right amount of illumination to guide guests to your doors.
For lighting that uses candelabra lamps, consider low 7 watt or 15 watt incandescent bulbs. If the lantern is traditional and mounted on a traditional home, the lamps designed to replicate candles are also a nice option and use only 3 to 5 watts of power.
If you choose a Dark Sky fixture, select directional light sources for optimal performance.
4. How important is energy efficiency?
According to the United States Department of Energy (DOE) homeowners use more electricity for more hours per day on outdoor lighting than any other room in the house. If you’re trying to save money on energy costs, outdoor lighting is a great choice – and you don’t have to sacrifice any of your answers to items 1-3.
Integrated LED lighting fixtures are now available in multiple sizes and styles and offer longevity and proven performance.
If you select an incandescent-based lighting fixture, choose a more energy efficient bulb, such as a compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) or LED. Today’s CFLs are engineered to deliver better color and can appear as natural as LED. LED retrofit lamps are more expensive, but typically last longer. Here’s a good rule of thumb: select LED if you live in an area with cold winters. CFLs do not like the cold and may falter on the coldest days. LED are the opposite; they are much more comfortable in cooler surroundings.