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The Little Things - Outdoor Lighting

By Janet Ramin on June 09, 2010

Designer Monthly's Little Things column places a spotlight on those home accessories that are often overlooked, and we'll show how they can be improved to make a world of a difference. Our pursuit is to enhance the decor through economical yet aesthetically superior measures.

Outdoor Lighting

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Backyard parties can be so enjoyable that even if they start in the afternoon, they can often linger on till nighttime. When no one wants to leave the party, the host needs to make some adjustments to the setting. One of the little things necessary for a comfortable evening party is outdoor lighting.

Most backyards have some kind of flood lighting, providing general illumination. Unfortunately, this is a little glaring and definitely unflattering. Happily there are many alternatives in outdoor lighting.

Candles are a simple and easy solution. But when there are many guests milling around, these can be dangerous. Frontgate provides outdoor lanterns such as the Trident that can house pillar candles and keep them from being knocked over. The Trident also has beveled glass panels to prevent the candles from being blown out. They come in different sizes so you can place them on tables or on steps to light a path. The Trident gives a warm decorative touch to your backyard.

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Another choice is garden torches. These are perfect for lighting a dark walkway or driveway. Frontgate's Pisa torch is an elegant copper fixture using paraffin oil as its light source. The torches are staked into the ground and can be positioned to ring around a perimeter. For the modernistas, Frontage also offers Steel Pipe torches. Made of non-corroding brushed steel, the Pipe torches have a sleek modern look. The torches come with a corresponding flat base and do not need to be staked into the ground — great for paved terraces.

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If torches interfere with the landscaping design and unobtrusive lighting is needed, recessed ground lighting is perfect. Instead of inserting in a ceiling, these outdoor recessed lights are buried in the ground. Arcadian Lighting makes the Dabmar LV-300, a cast aluminum fixture using halogen bulbs. The Dabmar has a safety grill over its bulb to allow people to safely step on it without harming the fixture. These recessed light fixtures can be sprinkled around flower beds and bushes, where subtle lighting is desired.

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For ornamental lighting — just to give that extra sparkle in the backyard — try these hanging Pod Lens light fixtures designed by Ross Lovegrove for YLighting. Made of polycarbonate, these pod lights resemble bud forms and comes in many spring colors such as green, yellow or terracotta. The pod lens can hang from trees or if attached to a stem can be staked into the ground. YLighting also offers these other-worldly stone lights that resemble an extraterrestrial deposit. These stone lights are made of weather-resistant polyethylene and use fluorescent bulbs. Scatter them around your backyard and voilá — instant moonscape!

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To provide a balanced and well-lit but not glaring outdoor space, there are many types of lighting fixtures available. The key to successful outdoor lighting is to first determine what you do want to light (rose bushes, dining areas, the pool, pathways, etc.) and then explore the different categories of outdoor light fixtures for the best fit. A combination of light fixtures might be the best solution for the lighting doldrums.


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