Archive for the ‘Outdoor Lighting’ Category


Your front entry is your chance for that great first impression.
Check out our tips, guidelines and ideas for your outdoor lighting design.

Most guests visit your home at night, so your entryway lighting is crucial for setting the mood and make an inviting entry.
Welcome guests to your home with the warm glow of outdoor lighting.

Contact us with your questions. We’d love to help you!

Garage Lights create a safe entry. Via CG&S Design Build

Outdoor lighting has a dual purpose: You want to create a welcoming entrance to your home as well as be able to walk safely up the steps and from the inside clearly identify who’s coming to visit.
Your front door is usually what most guests approach (Or so they say. For some reason all our guests find the kitchen door first – and then never leave the kitchen!)
So, theoretically at least, the front entrance door is THE place to choose to make a statement!

Lighting is one very important way to create a great first impression. 
A pair of wall sconces or lanterns flanking the entryway can complete the look you want, whether it’s grandiose, contemporary, rustic or artistic.

Safety is of course also an issue and the right lighting is key to reducing trip hazards around your home.
Wall lanterns create a warm welcome  and are very important for that exact reason. Aside from that they are primarily  supposed to be decorative.
Combine them with landscape, step  and path lights for ideal illumination.

A third, maybe unexpected,  benefit from outdoor lighting is the illumination it creates outside the windows. Keep the windows from becoming “black holes” when viewed from inside. Instead it visually extends the living areas to the outside.

The Troy Lighting Cameron outdoor light has a striking architectural design


Lighting the secondary entrances to your home, like patio and kitchen doors, follow the same requirements as the front door, but there the focus might be primarily on safety paired with a comfortable patio light for outdoor entertaining.
I’m not saying that you can ignore aesthetics and go ahead and install some of those glary security lights that will illuminate your neighbor’s back yard as well as yours. That is Light Pollution! (More about that later.)

Troy Lighting Old Town Outdoor Light

Choose lights that meet your needs for illumination as well as atmosphere and fit the style of your home.
You’ll find styles from sleek, minimal architectural fixtures to traditional lanterns or Craftsman style lights in all price ranges. The choice is yours!


Troy Lighting Dayton Wall Light

Troy Lighting Dayton Wall Light features an LED light for energy efficiency


Wall lights, lanterns, ceiling lights or pendants?
Depending on the architecture of your home it might be possible to use wall sconces or lanterns flanking the doorway or lights mounted to or recessed into the ceiling – or a combination of both.

With some minimal, clean, contemporary home designs it might be tempting to choose only recessed overhead lights. But keep the “flashlight-under-the-chin” effect in mind: Illumination directly from above is almost as ghastly as from below – and it can be almost impossible to see the facial features of a visitor with this choice of lighting.

If this is still the lighting of choice, consider combining it with indirect illumination of landscape features or architectural details nearby.


The Aspen collection of outdoor lights by Troy Lighting includes wall sconces, pendants and post lights.

The same principle goes for the must-have decorative fixture that looks wonderful at the front door, but does not shed sufficient light. It just needs a little help and can work well if you augment it with other less visible light sources.
One of the most important considerations when choosing wall sconces to flank a doorway is size and proportions.


Size matters!
In our experience most home owners tend to choose entry lights that are too small for the scale of the door and the wall they are attached to.
With larger homes and taller ceilings, be bold!

As for size: look at the proportions of your front entryway.
Those Jelly-jar wall lights we all know all too well might look out of place next to the door in your new home, even if your parents also had them “and they worked just fine.”
By the same token, no matter how much you admire those wrought iron lanterns that would be suited for a grand entrance they might very well seem overwhelming flanking your cottage door.
The wall fixtures should be anywhere from 1/4 to 1/3 the height of the door.

If you are using two sizes of sconces for your front door as well as your garage you’ll want to use the larger sconces at the front door, since this is where you want to create the focal point.   The smaller sconces that flank the garage door shouldn’t draw too much attention to this less attractive area of your home.

As a rule of thumb, outdoor sconces or lanterns should be mounted with the center of the light source about 5’6″ to 6′ from the ground and 8’ – 10’ apart.


Troy Lighting Copper Mountain

Copper Mountain from Troy Lighting is inspired by the rugged slopes of the Colorado Rockies

Patio Lighting creates a mood for relaxing and entertaining.

Our decks and patios have become important extensions of our living rooms, kitchens and dining rooms.
As we add state-of-the-art barbecues, outdoor kitchens, comfortable dining areas we want to add the comforts and feel of home we have become used to indoors.
Whether enjoying a romantic al fresco meal for two or entertaining a crowd, we want to see the food on our plate, look good, maybe feel romantic and also be able to move around without danger of tripping.


The Access Lighting Ariel Outdoor Light puts the light exactly where it is needed

Create a safe environment with atmosphere.
One tip is to avoid glare and use as much indirect light as possible.
Inconspicuous step lights and small light fixtures positioned under a railing or a banister can help you put the light exactly where it is needed to safely negotiate stairs and dark areas on the patio.
Try to avoid the “runway-effect” of light sources lined up in a straight row unless. The trick is to illuminate an area without the light sources being the center of attention.


Patio lights don’t have to be fancy or expensive to be effective. Try a combination of wall sconces next to the entryway, some lights for areas that need special attention like changes in terrain and compliment these with twinkling strands of lights in nearby trees or indirect light sources that add atmosphere by accenting architectural features or parts of the surrounding landscape.

Patio String Lights


A little light goes a long way outdoors. 25W or 40W are sufficient in most exterior fixtures. In order to avoid glare and create atmosphere it is always preferable to use several light sources with a low wattage instead of a single one that will keep your neighbors awake.
With LED bulbs, look for some that are equivalent to 40W and 60W and choose a color temperature of around 2700K or lower, since they feel more like incandescent bulbs.


Compact Fluorescent bulbs Outdoors? YES!
Outdoor lights tend to be on for longer periods of time and are sometimes hard to reach. Both good reasons for switching to compact fluorescent lamps.
Since not all compact fluorescents are suitable for cold temperatures check the description on the package to make sure that you choose CFLs rated for outdoors.


Take Control!
It might be practical for a variety of reasons to have the flexibility to choose the levels of light, so plan on installing dimmers to control the light levels of your outdoor lights!
This way you can go from security lights to mood lighting at the touch of a switch.
Just keep in might that dimming incandescent lights cause them to shift to a warmer, more yellow tone. I love this effect around my deck because it adds warmth and the feel of flickering candles.
Plants, however, take on a sickly look in yellow light, so dimming is not for landscape lighting!

Some manufacturers like Kichler Lighting have come out with chandeliers as well as floor and table lamps rated for exterior use. This makes it possible to bring a feeling of “home” outdoors and extend the hours you can enjoy your patio or deck.

Kichler Lighting Alameda Chandelier

Form + Function represents the outdoor lights by a large number of manufacturers. We offer choices from cutting-edge Contemporary to Craftsman style or Traditional. Our criteria for choosing the fixtures is quality, integrity and form as well as function.


Motion Sensors are great! -If you aim the sensor right, so the lights turn on from a sufficient distance.
(I am embarrassed to confess that I am speaking from painful experience: for way too long I have dealt with a hard-to-reach garage light that doesn’t turns on until I am directly under it after having stumbled my way through the dark. I’ll fix it next weekend. I think.)
Again, please don’t even think about blinding your innocent guests with a spotlight with a motion detector! It is cruel!
Motion detectors can be used in combination with regular wall lights, not only as part of a security light system.


Landscape and path lighting looks the best if the light source is is not glaring in your eyes, blinding you. That translates to: No runway lights flanking the driveway, but subtle illumination of rocks, bushes and other natural features along the way. Works just as well, but what a difference!





Extend your living space to the outdoors!

Outdoor Lighting and Fireplace via CG&S Design Build

Outdoor living areas have become a huge trend and it’s easy to see why. This is where we spend a lot of time. Why not  extend the personality and comfort of our decor and personal style to the outdoors?

Outdoor Lights add warmth to this outdoor space via Home Envy

Gone are the days of a small cement porch with a single gas barbeque and a few rickety lawn chairs.  Outdoor living is in!

Since a lot of activities take part after dark it is important to make sure that the lighting is perfect, first of course, so we can see , second for aesthetic reasons.

Stunning outdoor lighting via Home Envy

It’s a good idea to actually create a  lighting plan for your outdoor living space, just like you would do it for your living room or kitchen. Think of all the different activities the space is used for and plan with that in mind: Grilling and cooking, reading in your favorite deck chair, enjoying a romantic meal al fresco or having everyone over for a neighborhood party.
All these activities require different kinds of outdoor lights.

Inspiring outdoor lighting design via House and Home

Just like an interior room outdoor spaces profit from the use of multiple smaller light sources instead of a few powerful ones. The same “layers of light” we are talking about indoors.

An overhead outdoor light can be complemented by a few sconces and a table or floor lamp for task lighting in the seating area.

Outdoor Reading Lamps via

Limit bright lights to high activity areas such as the entrance and your outdoor kitchen and use softer decorative overhead lighting in your outdoor dining and living area.

Keep in mind that great contrasts in lighting, especially outdoors can be trip hazard.  As we age, the eye’s ability to adjust from dark to light surroundings slows, which makes it harder to move quickly from a well lit to a darker area. So, if you are a baby-boomer or older, just plan your outdoor lights accordingly: Avoid sharp contrasts by using multiple light sources.
Use soft ambient lights to fill the completely dark areas with a touch of light, especially at the perimeter of brightly lit areas around doorways and stairs.


Outdoor Path Lights via

A little light goes a long way outdoors

Please, please (did I say it pretty enough?) limit the use of flood/spotlights!! Sure they are cheap and functional, but they are also also extremely glary,  a nuisance to your neighbors and  a source of light pollution.
Of course they have their place: for safety, like at the garage with a motion sensor and at the barn, so you can check that all the critters are safe and tucked in.

Extend your interior design plan to the outdoors

Evenings on the porch are for relaxing.
Fire pits are immensely popular these days.
One of the many reasons is the warm, amber glow of the light (and then of course the fragrance of the burning wood – and the marshmallows!)

A fire pit doesn’t throw a lot of light, but it creates a very unique atmosphere of intimacy and warmth.
You can create this feel with the right patio and landscape lighting.

Outdoor Firepit by Doug Burch

Outdoor Firepit via Doug Burch


We spend most of the time at home in summer outside. We eat all our meals outside and sit and read or visit with friends on the deck every night. We had the dilemma that it was easy to illuminate the deck close to the house under the portal (we live in New Mexico where houses have portals), but further out on our big deck it was pitch black – and we do love to sit and read and that is our favorite spot. Solution: a commercial light string with regular bulbs in the tree branches above reading/dining area. 25W bulbs on a dimmer. Works like a charm and looks so nice, for parties, too!
String lights are ideal for small outdoor spaces, too.

Lighting small outdoor spaces

String lights add charm and a festive touch to your outdoor areas

If all this seems overwhelming, keep in mind that it’s not necessary to illuminate everything in your yard.  Just decide which areas are the highest priorities for you and your family.  Begin closest to the house, since that is where most activities take place.
A few well-placed, low-voltage path or accent lights can have a huge impact on your landscape. Again, follow the principles of indoor lighting: illuminate only what you want to highlight and create focal points.

Outdoor Step Lights add safety and general illumination

Looking at the lights at my own walkway down to the horse barn I cringe, since our wonderfully creative and rambunctious dogs have destroyed every single one of them. My project to keep me busy for a weekend, I guess.

After this experience, I can’t stress it enough, how important it is to buy the quality that can stand up to the (ab)use your yard gets.
In my quest to find affordable high quality fixtures I chose some that obviously didn’t stand the test and now have to do the job over.
Should have looked for bollards like these I saw in the Swedish magazine Hus o Hem. They look indestructible!

I also need this T-shirt from!!!


Outdoor kitchens have gained popularity. I definitely have one on my wish list! Just stumbled across this great outdoor kitchen that uses industrial warehouse lights. Looks so much better than the typical barbecue light and of course illuminates the space so that you can really see what you are doing.




Outdoor Kitchen with Barn Lights

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Outdoor LightingDriving home from work at night I always check out the way people in my neighborhood light their homes, just can’t help myself.

There’s the house with the brightly lit runway leading up to the door. If the driveway were a big longer I bet a plane could land there. You don’t see the house itself, but you for sure know which way to go. The house next door has one of those harsh spotlights over the garage door that shines straight out towards anyone approaching, blinding the person temporarily.  Has the owner ever heard about light pollution?

This “security light” stays on all night long and makes his front yard resemble a deserted parking lot.Then there are quite a few houses that just don’t have a whole lot of exterior lights and since we live in an area with no street lights (thanks to our amateur astronomers’ club!!) finding a house – or a house number – in the dark is a unique challenge.

My favorite house is one around the corner. Every time I drive by in the dark I feel like walking up to the front door. It just looks so inviting. Like coming home for Christmas.

What’s their secret?
First of all they are not overdoing things by trying to illuminate everything. They probably realize that a little light goes a long way outdoors. The landscape lighting is practically invisible. That is, certain features in the yard are gently illuminated, like a natural stone fountain, an adobe wall, a large tree.

The walkway leading up to the house is softly illuminated with the aid of small landscape lighting fixtures hidden under bushes, so the fixtures themselves are not visible, but there is nevertheless a path of light showing the way.

Two wall lanterns are flanking the door. They illuminate the front steps with a warm, welcoming glow,  making the front door a focal point. The steps leading up to it are discreetly lit so you can negotiate them safely.

The thing is: Too much light can be a danger. Great contrasts between darkness and bright light actually creates a trip hazard, since the eyes can’t adjust fast enough.

Tip: If you want bright lights for security, but warmth and no glare for the first impression of your home, consider putting your outdoor fixtures on a dimmer.

FAQ: How high do I hang my wall sconces next to the front door? – Rule of thumb: 66″ above the ground.