Tips for lighting up outdoor home areas such as courtyards and front doors as winter approaches and darkness arrives early.
November welcomes in brisk, shortened days, when darkness starts sneaking up before dinnertime. So if you don’t want to enter the house at 6 p.m. in the pitch dark, maybe it’s time to think about new outdoor lighting. How do you go about brightening your courtyard and front door for wintery after hours? Sheryl Klein, who created Eluminations Lighting Design in Montclair in 2003, reminded residents to think beyond the porch light — though there are plenty of great options available for this as well.
Klein, who’s been the in lighting industry for 25 years, started in interior architecture, which may be why she instantly mentions that you need to consider your home’s architectural style first. “As far as the actual porch fixture, choosing one depends on the architecture of the house. Craftsman-style bungalows have different style needs from a mid-century modern,” she said. “You want your lighting to complement the architecture and fit in well. In Berkeley, you’ll get a lot of craftsman bungalows; Rockridge, too. In the Oakland hills, it’s a lot of mid-century modern.”
Next up, consider your light source: New energy codes in California support LED use, Klein noted. “Plus, there are a lot of options for LED sources, as opposed to incandescent.”
Klein then looks at the bigger picture: “For a craftsman home, consider a combination of path lighting plus up-lighting for certain trees. You’ll want to create a focal point of trees that warrant lighting,” she said. “For larger oak trees,” she warned, “don’t overdo it. You’ll want to make a combo of layering the light in different ways.”
Finally, what to do about that porch fixture? “Porch lighting includes wall-mounted options and flush-to-the-ceiling options,” she began. The light can be “for security and for aesthetics, as a design element. “Porch lights are more decorative and draw attention, so you’ll want that to be what you’re trying to achieve,” she said. “Do you want to see the light source? See it transparent and glow? Or have it hidden, with a shield that hides the light?”
And ask yourself: How much light do you need? What’s the size of your porch? “Sometimes, it’s big enough for one but not two lights, depending on the wall area, so I might recommend something semi-flush mounted from above.” Klein also said to look at whether your light will be directly exposed to harsh weather conditions or rain, and whether it needs to be wet-location rated. “Damp-location means there will be some moisture, like in the bathroom, but something inside in a shower or outside of the house needs to be wet-location rated,” Klein added.
Then there’s the big question: What’s your style? “I am more of a modern type,” she said. “Transitional style, which is not traditional but also not super modern, can go either way. It works with classic style but also something modern.” Klein suggested homeowners search websites by style. “A lot of people looking for classic might look to Rejuvenation’s website [Rejuvenation.com].” Hubbardton Forge specializes in craftsman style but also features sculptural, more artistic designs. “If you’re looking for more Craftsman with a modern twist, Hubbardton Forge [HubbardtonForge.com] has cool stuff,” she said. Circa Lighting (CircaLighting.com) offers a modern style; Modern Forms is even more contemporary. “They’re not outrageously expensive modern but in the mid-end of a price point, as opposed to modern Italian companies.”
Manufacturers’ websites give “a broader scope of what companies make,” Klein said. “Manufacturers give detailed info like dimensions, specifications, light source, lumens — this is important as it equates to brightness. It’s the only way to know how bright the lamp is.”
Which, of course, is why it’s time to get shopping and brighten up your wintertime.
Check out Klein’s webpage on Houzz at Houzz.com/pro/sherylb27/eluminations. Find out more about Klein’s business, Eluminations Lighting Design, at Elumniations.com.