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.

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