With exterior lighting, any outdoor space becomes usable—day or night.

As the old proverb goes, it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness. Thankfully for lighting designers, most homeowners follow this advice when it comes to the outdoors. A great outside space should be enjoyed equally during the day and night. Homeowners can achieve this with the strategic placement of outdoor lighting.

“As beautiful and comforting as daylight and sunlight are, when we’re outdoors, we have very little control over [the light], but once the sun goes down, candlelight and artificial lighting allow us to create beautifully dramatic effects around our homes and gardens,” says Alfredo Zaparolli, principal of Techlinea, a San Francisco design studio that provides lighting design, electronic architecture, and project management. “With exterior lighting, we can highlight things we like and obscure into darkness and shadow things we don’t like.”

Think of lighting as makeup for the outside, accentuating the good stuff and hiding any blemishes. Claudia Juestel, principal of Adeeni Design Group, also based in San Francisco, treats outdoor spaces similar to interiors by creating areas for entertaining, eating, resting, and transition. “We look to create evening environments that are equally pleasant to be in as interior rooms,” she says. “But it is important that landscape lighting is well balanced with ambient lighting.”

Ambient lighting is key in lounge areas. A portico, gazebo, or pergola allows for overhead and wall or column lighting, but an uncovered space will require a combination of floor lamps and table lamps. Selections may be still somewhat more limited compared to indoor decorative lighting, but options can be found for both traditional and modern styles. However, exterior lighting isn’t just for aesthetics; it’s also for safety. “Illuminating your property’s boundaries will make you and your guests feel more secure,” says Jim Burks, president of Atlanta-based Pinnacle Lighting Group, which specializes in architectural, landscape, residential, commercial, and security lighting. “It will also make any potential intruders feel insecure.”

Similar to interior spaces, LED is the biggest trend in exterior lighting due to its low wattage, long lamp life, miniaturized size, and ease of use. However, Zaparolli does say there are things to consider with LED lighting, including the fact that not all drivers are dimmable. Burks offers similar hesitancy. “Because LEDs are expensive when compared to other light sources, you may not recoup your investment if you’re planning to move within a short period of time,” he says. “Still, they are very popular.”

Kichler Lighting's South Hope Outdoor Wall Light

Kichler Lighting’s South Hope Outdoor Wall Light



Kichler Lighting’s South Hope Outdoor Wall Light

Mimicking old, classic lanterns with its box-like shape and handle accent atop each fixture, Kichler Lighting’s South Hope collection blends a mix of traditional and transitional elements for an eye-catching yet simple design. A hollowed frame featuring a rubbed bronze finish encloses a satin-etched opal glass shade. The four-piece collection includes a post lantern and wall lanterns in three sizes. From $150 (width: 5.5”; height: 11.75”) to $387 (width: 9”; height: 19.75”).