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Enhance Your Home With Outdoor Lighting

Posted on Jun 7, 2018 in:
  • Remodel
  • Seattle Times HomeWork
  • Maintain
  • Homeowners

Pergola lit up at night

Q: I love hanging out outside with my family. I want to add lights to my yard so I can spend even more time out there with them. What do I need to know about outdoor lighting?

A: As homeowners expand their living space into the great outdoors, the need for proper outdoor lighting has become increasingly important. Today’s exterior lighting goes well beyond the functionality of safety and security. Here are some things to think about when illuminating outdoor spaces:

Layers of Light

Near your central seating area, add general lighting in a warm hue and a similar brightness to your indoor lighting. For increased functionality, task lighting near a grill or outdoor kitchen is essential during evening hours. To add safety and beauty throughout your yard, highlight walkways using path lighting.

To create even more ambiance, consider using an accent light to highlight landscaping, trees, a fountain or the architecture of your home. Also, consider drawing attention to your favorite botanicals in the evening by creating shadows on an adjacent fence or façade of your home.

Pro tip: If your home is in a Dark Sky-compliant neighborhood—or if you’d just like to opt to minimize light pollution—select fixtures that minimize glare, skyglow, and facilitate better vision at night. There are a wide variety of Dark Sky-compliant outdoor lighting options available that also complement the aesthetic of your exterior spaces. Work with a lighting professional to identify the best options for your project.

Outdoor Lighting Trends

When considering lighting for your outdoor spaces, find ways to take the indoors outside with decorative outdoor lighting. Oversized chandeliers and multi-pendant clusters outdoors are trendy, help provide functional illumination, and bring a sense of warmth and comfort to entertaining areas. Lamps and chandeliers made explicitly for outdoor use add a decorative accent to porches, pools, cabanas, and other covered outdoor spaces.

Popular styles for exterior lighting currently include: seeded or hammered glass; use of an interior candle or globe inside an outer casing; and modern takes on industrial, warehouse, or farmhouse shades. Many of these fixtures can be easily integrated into traditional and transitional home designs.

Practical Considerations

Surprisingly, bulb selection can also have a big impact on comfort. A key benefit of LED lighting, for instance, emits less heat and attracts significantly fewer bugs. LEDs also have a longer lifespan, typically lasting between 25,000 and 50,000 hours. With a nightly usage of 8 hours, exterior LED lights could burn up to 16 years before having to be replaced.

Whatever you buy, make sure your fixtures are suited for outdoor use! Check the details and dimensions tab on packaging or online product descriptions for the phrase "UL Listed for Use in Damp Locations."


Brad Faber is showroom manager for Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery, a member of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties (MBAKS). If you have a home improvement, remodeling, or residential homebuilding question you’d like answered by one of MBAKS’s nearly 3,000 members, write to


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