If you are following my LIGHT THE WAY series, you have probably noticed I’ve jumped from lighting basics to the dining room and now exterior lights. No plan, just a little ADD. As Clint would say, “Welcome to my world.”
I was trying to come up with some eloquent, flowery prose about the golden glow of the exterior lighting on my house giving me warmth and comfort, acting as a beacon in the dark, yada yada, and realized I was just sounding dorky. Plain and simple, it is just nice to drive up to my house and have the outside lights on. Plus – and here’s the biggie – it helps me see where I’m going if I walk outside at night.
For the sake of this post I’m not talking about landscape lighting, only exterior house lighting. Also If you are putting up new lights or replacing old ones, this post is just about the “pretty.” It has nothing to do with the “technical” (i.e., code, electrical, installation). There are others to help you with that.
The ranch house is large and typical for its era; an add-on to an add-on to an add-on. There are some really interesting juxtapositions between the old rock siding, new rock siding, log slabs and reclaimed barn wood siding which was added as part of the remodel. Plus we used copper for the gutters and downspouts which will patina into a lovely verdigris over time. One of the beautiful features original to the house are the beautiful glass block transoms over both front doors.
The size / scale is one of the most important factors when choosing lights. If a fixture is too little, it will disappear. If it is too big it tends to shout, “Hello, look at me,” and not in a good way. Style is also a primary consideration. I knew I needed the fixtures to blend in with the traditional ranch style, yet at the same time, the house is non-traditional in many ways (you’ll see when we dig into the interior). Some of the lights would hang from the rock, some from the log and some from the barn wood. So they just had to work with everything. Color also needs to weigh into the equation when choosing exterior lighting: copper, brass, iron, white, chrome, the list seems to go on and on. In fact out of curiosity I went back to http://www.lightingdirect.com and counted how many finishes they have for exterior lighting; 25 different finishes so now you know why my brain overloaded. There are solar, fluorescent, LED, incandescent bulbs so I even had to think about that (if you want to know the technical stuff, here’s a great link to bulb-type comparisons: http://www.nofs.navy.mil/about_NOFS/staff/cbl/lumentab.html).
Having all the various elements created a bit of a dilemma when I started looking for exterior lighting simply because I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go. I started by searching copper lights because of the copper gutters. Nothing really caught my attention, so I moved on to the black iron look. Most were a little over-the-top for my taste; either too large and heavy feeling or too gaudy. So I went back to the glass block as a reference point since it’s one of the features I especially love. I searched fixtures with black bases and water glass globes and finally narrowed it down to about 3 that I really liked and seemed to fit stylistically. Clint and I agreed on this Elk Lighting fixture. Although technically it is considered a mission style, it fit with the look of the house. The light is 17″ tall and I have to admit I was kind of scared of it when I pulled it out of the box because it seemed disproportionately huge. But once all 13 were hung, they looked perfect.
If you are an indecisive person there are always people with opinions to help you (like me). Just remember, at the end of the day we go home and you are the one who will live with the final decision so make sure you love what you choose (or at least like it a lot).
Lovin’ The Light 🙂