Outdoor Lighting – Expert Advice on Good Design and Avoiding Common Mistakes

Outdoor lighting is easy to install and do it yourself, but most of the time it is not the installation that people do wrong, it is the design. Placing lights outside is akin to painting a scenic picture of your home and its surroundings in the best possible light. A picture perfect home and landscape will have both high and low focal points of interest, much like a painting done by an artist. A strong and artistic composition in design and painting will lead the viewer’s eye through a scene. First the viewer will look at the most prominent high focal point in the outdoor lighting scene then the viewer will look around to less important areas depending on the intensity of the focal points and unique or dramatic features that make them standout in the landscape. To achieve a beautiful design for your landscape and home exterior it is necessary to have both high and low intensity illumination.

Outdoor lighting designers generally make the main doorway to the home the high focal point of the front view. The reason being is that the doorway is the welcoming place of your home. It is also the main gateway from the inside of your home to the outside world. Professional designers consider it the main activity area and thus the “center of interest.” Decorative light fixtures increase the aesthetic appeal and financial value of a home. They also heighten the security. The ornate and stylistic features of exterior lights are also appreciated during the day. Whether night or day, they give a home a beautiful refined look. Decorative exterior lights add another level of sophistication to a home and landscape. The key is to balance the lights that are brighter with those that are subtle.

Ornamental outdoor lights are generally designed to be used as the high focal points, and usually at least one is placed on a home. In your landscape, high focal points are made with accent, spot or post lights. Low voltage light fixtures are used to softly light up your landscape; the low focal areas of interest. Varying the illumination techniques and type of fixtures will arouse the interest of your viewers by creating different shadowing and illumination effects.

Usually a bad outdoor lighting design is a result of illuminating the scenic view of your home too much or too little. Too much illumination on the exterior of your home and landscape can make it look like a high security parking lot in which there is an excess of glare at the viewer and is more of a nuisance; not just to guests but also to neighbors. On a side note, a good rule of thumb is to never point light fixtures at your neighbor’s windows.

Insufficient illumination on a home or landscape usually creates an eery feeling. Often time, it is done by leaving the home or the landscape in the dark and seemingly disconnected. An excess of darkness in the landscape or on your home is also a security flaw. Ensuring that all steps, walkways and drives are properly illuminated also minimizes accidents. Meager illumination negatively affects the aesthetic appeal of your landscape and home and the safety of your loved ones.

Installing light fixtures outdoors can be easy. However, knowledge on common techniques and errors goes a long way to getting a professional designer appearance that will not look like you did it yourself.

Stone Tile Decor Works Indoors or Outside

Nothing signals stability and permanence in a home like stone. When properly installed, stone tiles can last for years. There’s a reason all those kings and knights from days gone by built stone castles!

In modern homes, stone tile d├ęcor on walls create particularly attractive accents for large rooms, generously portioned baths, and patios. They make a wonderful offset for other natural materials like granite, brick, and wood. Stone fireplaces, for example, make great centerpieces to complement (and help warm) living rooms.

Outside the home, stone provides a protective yet complementary border for lawns, gardens, and pools. They can be used as a decorative floor in lieu of concrete around pools, on patios and on walkways.

Best of all, stone comes in an almost unlimited variety of colors, textures, and shapes. You can find stone tiles that fit almost any home, from a desert oasis to a mountain getaway. High-end townhouses built-in or near urban centers feature stone to underscore the luxury element.

Before You Buy, Get a Quality Stone Installer

Installing stone can be heavy, time-consuming work, particularly for large projects and by people with limited experience. It’s a good idea to use a reputable, experienced stonemason for the job. Many of them work closely with interior and landscape designers and understand what the result is supposed to look like. Guesswork is eliminated.

Lots of stone retailers and wholesalers offer an array of natural materials such as granite for countertops, travertine for showers, and more. They may even have installers on staff to simplify the task and offer one-stop shopping for homeowners.

Pre-installation work includes selecting tiles or slabs. You may want your designer to be involved at this stage since he or she may have a specific kind of stone in mind with the design that you have approved.

Stone installation is achieved with methods that vary depending on where the stone will go. Outdoor paving stones can be set with sand and other materials, while mortar is preferred for landscaping tiles and grout for indoor flooring.

Stone Installers’ Tricks

Most people who have attempted to install stone tiles to match a specific design or pattern will agree that it’s more difficult than the online videos show, particularly if you aren’t an experienced DIY-er.

Here are a few things professional installers will do to make sure your project is done according to plan:

  • Check tiles for quality and use fit
  • Cut tiles with precision
  • Sort tiles to consider how to lay them in a way that enhances the appeal of variations that are inevitable in natural stone
  • Know which stones need which installation method

Installers can even mix grout to match or blend with tile; a very skilled professional can even minimize the appearance of grout. Grout coloring can also be enhanced to give an accent or contrast with the stone.

Finally, all stone needs to be sealed to prevent stains, particularly in high-traffic areas where resealing may be necessary. Your installer can help you determine how often this will be needed.

Where To Get Great Ideas For Landscaping

It is kind of wearing when I open my window every day staring at my same old garden. It looks somehow neglected although I always keep it tidy and pretty. The same plants, same terrain, and same arbors, all look old on my garden. This itchy feeling is suddenly creeping on my palms, bringing an urge to make something new.

Then images of landscape start to pop out in my mind, the images of my neighbors’ garden when I visited their house, the images of real estate advertisements where they put beautiful garden around the advertised houses, the images of my own fancy garden. Confusion slowly occupies my mind. To top that, I do not have any clue on what or where to begin with.

Fortunately, I do not have any hyperventilating issue. So I go to my pantry, prepare myself a hot cup of black coffee which sometimes helps a lot. While zipping my hot coffee, my eyes go to that same old garden outside my window, thinking where to get great ideas for landscaping. The stack of magazines on the book shelf looks appealing. I grab some, browse each page to seek beautiful garden pictures or residence advertisements, and not forgetting to put a sticky note on the page containing the landscape design I prefer for my garden.

After finishing with that, I open the noted pages to review each design once again. They are inspiring yet not really fitting the requirements I seek for my garden. Hence I approach my laptop to search more alluring ideas. Obviously there are hundreds designs of flawless gardens which need thorough evaluation before determining to save some for my own reference. Those designs indeed evoke more ideas for landscaping my sought garden.

The dimension of the most preferred design thereinafter should accommodate the terrain of my garden. Each garden has its own character that requires adjustment in every angle. It occurs to me that I probably need to seek advice from professionals on this, considering my lack of knowledge on landscape design. The consequence of this concern however is the escalating budget, especially their huge fees. Not yet to mention their choice of materials, plants, decorations, and deadline which on some cases I heard are long overdue. Such constraints should be excluded from my tight schedule and, of course, budget as well. Will the grand expectation and limited budget collide at perfect combination?