By Maria Bargellini
Setting the mood? Huh, sounds like something out of a bad 70’s movie. Well in terms ofB outdoor lighting it’s not just turning them on or off. It’s about designing yourB landscape lighting in such a way as to invoke feelings of comfort, drama, and even mystery. OK, you think I’m over-romanticizingB outdoor lighting, well maybe, I did read all those mushy paperbacks on the train getting to high school. The eyes and brain is a densely packed bundle of nerves that are sensitive to stimulation and of course over stimulation. For instance I like the look of moonlighting but I am also a big fan of horror movies and it reminds me of that all too common desperate run through the woods with the ax wielding killer hot on your trail –and of course ….the inevitable fall. So for me I like it at your house but not my own. Here are a few techniques to help you set the mood you want.
Moon Lighting: Walking through a property that has incorporated this type of lighting will look and feel similar to walking through the woods at night with blue tinged light filtering through tree branches, and large spreads of light. Some people fancy this type of setting because it reminds them of a certain place or time, and some simply like the way it makes them feel. (Me – horror movies). You can only successfully have this moonlit look if you have tall trees 20-25 feet tall with plenty of branches to shadow on the ground. Trying to do this on a small or bare tree will not have the same result.
Accent or up lighting: You can accent trees, statuary, walls, etc. If youb re careful as to not light too many “special” things this can be a great way to showcase your home and landscape. It can make you feel comfy, accomplished, safe, or just plain happy. As with moon lighting this can be overdone or done incorrectly. Too many accent lights can lead to a busy backyard that lacks a consistent flow. When up lighting shrubs, especially with blue or green lenses, you can bring out the color in the foliage making the dark a little more relaxing. You outdoor lighitng design should look balanced and not be over done –with lighting less is usually more.
Architectural Lighting: Most neighborhoods aren’t filled with blocks of cloned houses. In most cases different materials are used, there’s varying styles, layouts, lines etc. WithB outdoor lighting you can make your house look wider, taller, deeper or all of the above. You can showcase the different textures of the material such as bricks or natural stone by using a grazing or highlighting technique.B This type ofB outdoor lighting is usually more dramatic than any other type. Lighting columns, coves, stone, and entries can really change the way your home feels and is received by others. Now you just can’t throw lights in the ground shining on your house. To make yourB lighting design look good it should look balanced, and the light output should be the same throughout so that there are no hot spots or “off areas”.
Path/Area lighting: There’s definitely a wrong way of lighting a path. Airport strips are for planes only. The most common mistake is to have too many lights. The second is to have yourB outdoor lighting fixtures directly across from each other. This is not a good look and it screams “help me!b The worst offense is to have a bunch of these on the walkway to your home and then not have any other lights at all. Whether you’re installing them yourself or have a professionalB outdoor lighting company install them make sure you go over the design in detail and if possible ask for a nighttime demonstration. MostB landscape lighting companies will be able to do this and you can see for yourself just how it will make you feel.
Maria Bargellini is the president ofB Dallas Curb Appeal Inc. a full service landscape contractor that operatesB The Outdoor Lighting Expert,B Lawn Sprinklers Dallas,B DFW Christmas Lights, andB Dallas Holiday Lighting.