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Living Space: Exterior lighting makes home appealing, more safe

May 26, 2010 at 12:26 a.m.

Good lighting sets a mood, creates a special feeling and turns a home into a haven. This entry has both side and top lighting that makes the home more welcoming and safer, by illuminating whoever is standing at the door.

By Kathryn Weber

A home that's welcoming and warm usually has one design element working for it other homes don't. That element is lighting. Lighting is one of designers' secret weapons, and for good reason. Good lighting sets a mood, creates a special feeling and turns a home into a haven. This is especially true of exterior lighting. The right lighting will make your home the most welcoming one on the block, and safer, too.

Start at the door

A warm glow at the front door creates more than a cozy feeling. Good lighting at the front door creates better security. If you have a light fixture next to the door, consider adding a recessed fixture overhead. These won't get in the way because they're flush-mounted. More importantly, a recessed porch light illuminates whoever is under them better than side-mounted light - so important when you're looking through a peephole late at night.

Move to the walkway

Adding a lamppost or lighting along the walkway to your front door is another nice lighting touch. It brightens up dark areas in the driveway and helps light the path from drive to door. Again, safety is a good reason for adding this type of lighting, but it's also very welcoming to light the starting point of the walkway to the door.

Layered lighting looks best

Lighting can set a mood and helps to play up unique features of your home and landscape. Start by adding lighting around the perimeter of the house. Adding landscape lighting around the house or just at the front looks nice. But when layers of light are added, the effect is even better.

To make a lighting plan, begin by standing out in the street or across the street from your home to get a full view of your house. This helps you see your home more objectively and discern the distinctive features more easily. It will also enable you to draw up a lighting plan that's more effective. Note on your plan any unique architectural or landscape features, such as ponds, fountains, specimen plants or trees. These are the lighting focal points you'll want to illuminate. By lighting the distinctive features, your home is more appealing and it makes your lighting look more professional.

If you have steps on your walkway to the front door, be sure to light them. A landscape or lighting company may need to install these if you want the lights on the steps. Or, simple wide spots on the sides available in low-voltage lighting sets can do the job easily and inexpensively. Add lighting at the curves and turns in walkways creates intrigue. Consider using lighting with covers that casts light downward on the path rather than open illumination.

Start slowly

There's a fine balance with exterior lighting; less is definitely more. A home with too much exterior lighting will look worse than a home with no lighting. That's why it's best to start slowly and add one layer of light at a time. Even a few small changes to lighting can make a big difference. Inexpensive white Christmas lights on a tree on the patio can create a romantic and inviting glow in the garden. By adding or revamping your exterior lighting, you'll cast your living space in a new, and safer, light.

Kathryn Weber is a home and decorating columnist and publishes the Red Lotus Letter feng shui E-zine. For more information or questions, email Kathryn@kathryn-weber.com or write to her at P.O. Box 531, Cuero, TX 77954. Please include your e-mail address or a SASE for a reply.

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