So much attention is given to designing a log home’s exterior. Choosing a log profile and the perfect stain to enhance it is a painstaking process. Corner systems are chosen for aesthetics as much as function. Windows are rarely Plain Jane affairs, but more often feature arched tops and intricate grille designs.
Why, then, does outdoor lighting go overlooked? More often than not, a home’s exterior lighting plan is an afterthought, falling somewhere on the priority list after choosing lightswitch covers and just before ordering pizza for the construction crew.
It doesn’t have to be that way; in fact, it shouldn’t be. With a little forethought and planning, the proper outdoor lighting scheme can enhance your home’s appearance and your enjoyment of the great outdoors — not to mention your family’s safety.
Why Light Up The Night?
Safety, of course, is another consideration. Properly-lit paths and walkways are safe surfaces where trips and falls are less likely. When you can see the spaces around your home, you feel more comfortable moving through them at night. You also have peace of mind from knowing who or what is near your home.
As strange as it may sound, outdoor lighting can also enhance your log home’s interior spaces. Lighting beyond your home’s windows and doors makes the spaces and views outside your windows part of the rooms inside your home. Perhaps more importantly, outdoor lighting has the ability to create the perception of safety and comfort by eliminating "black holes."
Lighting experts use this term to describe how windows become sheets of black that block views when lighting inside the home is not balanced against the dark of night outside. Instead of offering views out of the home, as they do when they appear transparent during the day, the windows reflect the lights and items inside the home.
When interior lighting is balanced by artificial lighting beyond the windows, you can see the area around your home and therefore feel more comfortable.
Beyond these practical considerations, outdoor lighting enhances the enjoyment of your yard, decks and patios. You put a great deal of work into choosing the right piece of property and enhancing it with landscaping. Why not show it off? You build decks and patios for entertaining. Why not enjoy them day and night? You can do just that with appropriate outdoor lighting.
Mood. Consciously thinking about how an area will be used will help you determine the mood or feeling you want to create there. Drama is often the intent of lights placed in gardens and stands of trees, but safety is paramount on that walkway between the house and the compost bin or garbage center. On the other hand, lighting should encourage conversation without overpowering guests on a deck and provide intimate privacy near a hot tub or private balcony.
Security & Safety Lighting
Switches that control security lights should be close at hand — perhaps even in the master bedroom. You can also install motion sensors on security fixtures, but remember that wildlife may trigger them.
Safety lighting is installed in common sense places:
Landscape & Garden Lighting
Downlighting. As its name indicates, this lighting strategy features fixtures installed above the items being illuminated, usually activity areas.
Moonlighting. A form of downlighting, moonlighting is created when soft light filters through branches to create shadows and patterns on the ground and on the leaves and branches of the tree.
Uplighting. Lights placed at or near ground level highlight selected focal points, whether they’re trees, garden accents or structures. Spot lighting. An intense, closely controlled beam of light places special emphasis on a focal point.
Diffused lighting. Virtually the complete opposite of spot lighting, diffused lighting spreads an even light over a large area.
Lighting Your Home
Remember these simple points:
For more information on lighting your home, check out the July 2003 issue of Log Home Design Ideas.