Lightening the Mood

Effective and beautiful outdoor lighting is about a lot more than banishing the dark.

BY: Sara Smola

PHOTOS: Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery


Pasadena’s year round sunny climate makes it ideal for entertaining—even in the cooler months. While those living in eastern states are bundled up, Pasadenans are still lounging by the pool come December. The phrase dining “al fresco” may be Italian (for “in the open air”) but the implied lifestyle is 100 percent Southern Californian with our laid back indoor-outdoor entertaining style.

Setting the right atmosphere for any occasion is a must—whether you’re throwing a large party, serving a relaxed family meal, or, if you’re simply seeking to retreat to the backyard or front porch with a glass of wine after a long day. Of course the lighting you employ is dependent upon the amount of illumination required and the mood you hope to set. To help us examine some of the latest trends in outdoor lighting we turned to Ferguson Category Specialist Stefanie Stroud for the inside scoop on how to illuminate our lives, starting in our own back—or front—yard.

Stroud notes “Lighting is the jewelry of the home, and I believe the exterior lighting is comparable to adding those amazing earrings to top off a great look. The exterior of your home is the first thing guests see, you want to make that great first impression and the exterior lights set the tone and style for what awaits them inside.”

Find What’s Missing
Stroud emphasizes that when replacing or updating existing lighting, the first thing the homeowner should do “is to turn on their exterior lights and walk around their home at night to see what works and what doesn’t. You would be surprised when clients do this and notice they don’t have enough lighting in certain areas or too much in others. Going back to what exterior lighting should be accomplishing—[whether it be] aesthetics, safety or function—your current lighting might not be fitting the bill and it’s more than just changing the style of the lights,” says Stroud.

Safe and Sound
Outdoor lighting is essential for proper safety and, especially for those who travel out of town frequently, can help protect your property. An effective security system, flood lights are a great addition to your home, immediately alerting you if someone is invading your space and ideally scaring off the prowler. “While outdoor lighting does boost curb appeal it also needs to provide safety and function. When you have guests come to your home you want to make sure they can navigate their way safely to the front door. One of the more overlooked reasons why outdoor lighting is so important is the added security they provide; a well-lighted home is warm and inviting and helps to deter burglars,” says Stroud.

Bringing the Inside Out
While tiki torches have a sense of retro chic, they’re hardly the go-to for a homeowner looking to make an elegant statement. Outdoor lighting sets the mood—whatever you want that to be. For those seeking to replicate elegance outdoors, switch it up a bit and bring the inside out with an eye-catching chandelier for a statement piece all your guests will notice—adding a bit of rustic glam to your outdoor space. Stroud agrees. “People are creating large exterior kitchens with dining tables, and bringing the inside out and you need to have good lighting to make those spaces work. Because of this growth of outdoor living, I have seen an emergence of outdoor rated chandeliers from multiple manufacturers including Hinkley and Hubbardton Forge. Outdoor lighting has moved past the standard wall mounted lights at your front door—it’s becoming more of the overall design of the home. Clients can really create a mood or look with lighting, whether they want a soft romantic glow or have some great architectural features highlighted at night.”
Energy Efficient Options
With all the talk about going green and being mindful of our carbon footprint, it’s hardly a surprise to discover, according to Stroud, that LED lighting is increasing in popularity. “[It’s] really becoming a standard light source for outdoor lighting,” Stroud explains. “Not only because it’s a requirement to have high efficacy light source for the exterior per Title 24 but for energy saving purposes and ease of care. Besides being a requirement to pass code LED is energy efficient—where a normal outdoor light might take a 40-watt light bulb an integrated LED fixture might only use seven watts.” The 15 to 20 year life- span is an often unconsidered convenience, and stylistically LED lights have come a long a way. As Stroud says, “LED was limited to only modern outdoor lights for a while but manufactures are staying up to date and starting to offer LED on many different styles of outdoor lights.”

Stay Consistent
Whether you live in a Craftsman, sprawling ranch home or modern fortress, “when it comes to outdoor lighting you want to stay with the character of the home, putting an ultra modern wall light on a traditional style house will take away from the overall design,” warns Stroud. Traditional wall sconces highlight the entry way by framing a door, or for a contemporary take, cylinders and lighting cans are a sleek addition to a modern home.

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