How to Choose Landscape Lighting to Complement Your Exterior's Design

Here's what you need to know about outdoor illumination, according to an expert.

Looking to implement outdoor lighting that complements your landscaping and home's architecture? Scott Beverly, the owner and founder of Signature Illumination Designs, says it's important to balance artistry with visibility, safety, security, and functionality. Ahead, how to illuminate your exterior with all of those factors in mind.

new home exterior landscape lighting
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Think beyond aesthetics.

The best possible outdoor lighting scheme should meet your specific needs. "For example, concealed tread lights for stairs are beautiful, but they also make it safer to use those stairs when it's dark," he says. It's also important to consider how you utilize the space: "More and more families are looking to create a seamless indoor-meets-outdoor living space, instead of giving them distinct boundaries." If this is your goal, consider how your interior, landscaping, and hardscapes speak to each other—and create a cohesive lighting design that connects all three. Another must-do? Opt for energy-efficient LED lighting. Beverly says these options are durable, sustainable, and long-lasting.

Consider the seasons—and keep it natural.

Choose outdoor lights with dimmable features so you can adjust your illumination's intensity with the seasons and accommodate for the loss of foliage during the winter. Year round, refrain from overwhelming the space with too many different lighting styles. "Try and preserve the natural environment and highlight it—not overpower it," Beverly says. "There are a lot of options to choose from—up-lights, down-lights, moon-lights, and so forth." If you're unsure which ones you need, a professional can help you navigate the market and invest in the correct type and amount of lights. "Lighting design is an art and a science that requires technical mastery and isn't as expensive as you'd think," Beverly shares. "Invest in doing it right, especially since electrical work is involved."

Avoid patchy lighting schemes.

Avoid illuminating patches of your landscape, as you may create islands of light instead of a cohesive design that provides a comprehensive view. "Don't use one bright spotlight or place lights at angles that create harsh shadows. Instead, create layers of light to add balance; this is more appealing," Beverly offers. And try not to use just one source of illumination—this can make your landscape appear flat, as opposed to giving it balance, texture, and depth.

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