You work hard to make your home and yard beautiful with a well-maintained roof, a fresh coat of paint, and appealing landscaping that complements the home. Both front and back yards are full of functional spaces to help you enjoy the outdoors. What happens when the sun goes down and the home and yard are plunged into darkness? Rather than living in the dark, spruce up your home and yard with a little light! Strategically planned outdoor lighting can maintain the beauty, interest, and functionality of your home and yard. The question then becomes: “How exactly do you strategically place outdoor lighting?” Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! At Illuminating Design, Inc., we want to share 4 of our favorite outdoor lighting design ideas for 2016 to help you create stunning and useful outdoor lighting.
One of the best things to do with outdoor lighting is to create interest using the architecture of the home and surrounding landscaping. Exterior accent lighting draws attention to the unique and beautiful features already present. A few great tips include downlighting, uplighting, and crosslighting. Downlighting creates diffuse light from above that is perfect to provide soft lighting to an area or highlight columns and stonework. Uplighting makes bold shadows by casting light on trees and bushes. It’s important to be careful with harsher lighting to ensure there aren’t areas of your yard that are dark creating a perfect place for animals and people to hide. Lastly, crosslighting aims two lights at a diagonal. This effect eliminates shadows while lighting trees, bushes, and sculptures.
Lights for Entertaining
Many homeowners love entertaining outdoors on patios, around pools, or in outdoor living spaces. One of our favorite lighting ideas for entertaining is using string lights. We’re not talking about blinking holiday lights. You can get outdoor string lights with larger white bulbs that add incredible charm to any setting. Many of these lights are housed in rustic iron decorations or whimsical holders that add style as well. These lights are easy to string between columns and trees. You can even crisscross them or make parallel lines over a patio for a blanket-of-stars effect. You might even consider stringing them beneath an umbrella for an unexpected twist. These lights can be put up and taken down, changed, or left up depending on your preference.
A popular trend is to use colored lighting to highlight landscape features. Colored lights can be tacky; however, the right hues of blues, greens, and purples can be the perfect highlight to different plants, bushes, and trees to create interest, texture, and diverse lighting to your yard. If you love color, another whimsical option is to use colored lanterns. These add colorful light that is softer than harsher white lights.
One of the most popular types of lighting for any outdoor lighting design today is a light-emitting diode or LED. These lights are bright, efficient, and last longer than regular bulbs. They are a more modern way of lighting not only handheld devices and car dashboards, but also plants, walkways, and patios.
Hire a Pro for the LightsWhen it comes to the lights on the outside of your home, it's best to hire a company who specializes in holiday lights installation. If you've ever tried hanging the lights yourself, you know how time-consuming, frustrating, and potentially dangerous it can be. Why not hand this big job off to someone else? You will have much more time to shop, bake, wrap presents, or do whatever else you need to get done. Hiring a professional will take away the stress almost instantly. Not only will a professional lighting company use the best-quality lights in the industry, but they will also take care of service calls should anything go wrong. Gone are the days of going through each bulb and trying to figure out which one burned out. It's no longer your responsibility. Perhaps the best part is not having to find a place to store your lights--not to mention not having to take them down--after the season is over. Once you buy the lights the first time, not only will some companies store them for you completely free, but they'll install them year after year without you needing to buy them again.
Add Outdoor Daytime DecorOnce the nighttime decor is taken care of, you can't forget about the daytime! You will love coming home to such a festive place no matter what time of day it is. Brightly colored bows, wreaths, and garland will all help make your home look even more festive. You can also get these items pre-lit so you can still enjoy them at night as well. If you don't want to have to deal with getting these decorations, talk to your lighting company about the daytime decor options they offer. Get it all together in a bundle and you can hit 2 very large birds with one stone. The holidays are a time to enjoy time with your friends and family, not to stress about decorating. Leave the hard work to the professionals so you can relax and enjoy the magic of the season.
Better against the WeatherCommercial grade lights are better protected against the weather. These types of lights are designed for outdoor use where they are expected to be buffeted by wind, rain snow, sleet and whatever else Mother Nature can dish out. Because commercial lights are expected to be outside longer than those sold at a retail level, they are built to last. Consumers at a retail level are less likely to have a place to store their lights, and so these lights are not made to last long.
Avoid the TangleCommercial-grade strings of lights are made to tangle less. While many consumers at a retail level just ball their lights up and hope to sort it out next year, businesses know that they won't have time to untangle their lights. Your commercial-grade lights will be easier to store because they are easier to keep from getting tangled. That is something that even Rapunzel could see an advantage in.
Size MattersCommercial lights are built to be brighter and larger. In a residential area, Christmas light displays may be frowned upon. Having lights that are nice to look at but that do keep the neighbors up at night are two things that need to be balanced with retail lighting. In a commercial setting, the lights need to be brighter to compete with all of the other lights in the area; and generally, there are no residents to get upset at nighttime displays. When it comes to your business's commercial holiday lighting display, you will want to make sure that you invest in commercial-grade lights. There is no reason to go with cheap lights that are going to burn out sooner and break easier when you can get quality lighting that will pay for itself over the course of a couple of years. The holidays are a time when most businesses find their financial footing; a good holiday display can be a huge part of finding the right shoppers for the season.
Watch for Power LinesFirst, watch for power lines overhead when you are installing outdoor lights. It might seem like a simple thing, but it is not always self-explanatory. If you have power lines over your house, make sure that your light strands do not make connection with them and also be sure that any tools you are using do not make contact with them either.
Replaced Burned-Out BulbsSecond, be aware of any burned-out lights and replace them. Although you may only have a few burned-out bulbs, when you have lights that are burned out, the electricity that would have gone to power those lightbulbs will be redirected to the other lights. This can cause other bulbs to not only burn out faster but possibly pop and cause damage or result in an electrical fire.
Use the Right OutletOne of the dangers of installing holiday lights involves having your outlets outside exposed to the elements. This can cause serious damage and may even result in electrical fires or outages that can cause injury to people and pets. Be sure to invest in a covered GFI-protected outdoor outlet. This is the only way to go when you are installing holiday lights outside, as running extension cords from the inside of your home to the outside through windows or doors can cause fires or pose other safety hazards.
Keep It SimpleSometimes the safest thing you can do to alleviate stress and also perform a safer installation is to keep your holiday lighting design schema simple. Although when you think of holiday lighting, a grand display a la Clark Griswold in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation might first come to mind, you know if you have seen this movie that such a display can be dangerous. Even a simple display can have a huge impact and look amazing when done right.
Hire ProfessionalsFinally, there are some times when it will be important to hire a professional. You may not have all the tools and safety equipment that you need to do a good job with less risk. On the other hand, professionals can put your lights up safely as well as help you with design ideas and the creative aspect of the process.
- Choose 1 main color: Right now it is possible for you to get holiday lights in just about any color imaginable. Your design will look cohesive and beautiful if you can be disciplined enough to choose one main color. Of course, the most classic is the white lights, but a fun statement can be made with any color if you can stick with it.
- Choose 1 or 2 accent colors: Now that you have chosen the main color to use in your lighting decor, it is time to select 1 or 2 accent colors to throw in there. These accents should look good together, and should very much be used as accents. A splash of contrast here and there in your design will have a really good effect.
- Hire professionals to hang the lights: Once you have a good plan of what you want where, it is time to call in the professionals. Those who handle this work for a living will be able to hang the lights right where you want them with no slack or errant strings of flashing bulbs. They will come with experience and tools meant to make your house look incredible for the season. Trying to do this yourself will be dangerous, and will bring results that won't quite match your initial desires.
- Keep it simple: With so many fun outdoor decorations out there, it can be hard for a huge holiday lover to hold back from purchasing and displaying all of them. A cluttered yard with too many of these items will ruin the feeling of your display. Choose carefully the different elements you put into your design so that you can keep it simple and tidy.
- Be different: Elegance and uniqueness are not mutually exclusive. Just because you want a beautiful display does not mean that your home has to look like all the other lighted homes on the block. Add different elements to your design that will help your house to stand out from all the others. The accent color can do that as can adding music, signs with holiday messages, and other such things.