Before you even get in contact with your lighting designer, you've already looked at beautiful images of lighting design. You've figured out what you like and don't like. You've envisioned something in your own home and are excited to see it all come to fruition. Before you begin showing your designer where you want each fixture placed, let's slow down and consider what allowing your designer to have a bit more ownership, more creative contribution in the design, can do to help enhance your home.
Like a trusted interior designer, your outdoor lighting specialist has a unique understanding for how to best create something that will be beautiful and distinctive to your home's aesthetic flavor. A contemporary lighting design, for example, will look and be approached differently from a traditional look.
Your outdoor living space is different from everyone else's. There is no reason why your lighting design should be approached exactly the same way as the neighbor down the street. Even if your home and your neighbor's home are identical in every way, all the way down to the details of the landscape. There is still a high probability your landscape lighting designer would design them differently in accordance with how you each use and enjoy your outdoor living space.
Collaboration is the key to a successful design, and your designer absolutely wants to hear all your thoughts about how you routinely live in and enjoy your outdoor living space. The better understanding they have of what's important to you, be it beauty, function, entertaining, etc., the better they can create something that will work well for you.
It’s great to already have some ideas in mind, but don’t knock what your lighting designer can bring to the table. Lighting is more art than anything else. You may have an idea of where a fixture should be, but depending on what the overall goal is, what’s trying to be achieved, your lighting designer may have an entirely different approach.
Let's talk about pathway illumination, just to help illustrate how many different approaches there are to even this single aspect of landscape lighting design. Pathway illumination is likely one of the most diverse aspect of outdoor lighting and depending on the situation, there could be numerous ways a pathway can be lit. This is why it's good to lean on your lighting professional's expertise; they will know what can work best for you.
1. Path Lighting
Path lighting is a staple of low-voltage landscape lighting. It's used because it's a beautiful way to light a pathway. On top of it all, there are different types of path lighting fixtures that can be used depending on the scope
, scale and style of the home. Path lighting should absolutely be used where it can elegantly contribute to the overall lighting design. However, path lights are often misused and abused. They shouldn't be used in some sort of filler-fixture approach. They need to be used purposefully for pathway lighting.
Often referred to as moon lighting, down lighting is a very distinctive and beautiful way to illuminate a path where path lights may not be the best option or look. Mounting a fixture high up in a tree or beneath the soffit of a home, the lighting is focused on the path where it splashes a gentle wash over everything beneath it (Hence the name: Moon Lighting). The effects, especially with the dappling of leaves and the branches, can be breathtaking. However, this lighting approach is dependent on there already being established trees or other platforms to work off of.
3. Recessed Path Lighting
A rule of thumb with path lights is to not use them in turfed areas. If you have a walkway surrounded with grass on either side, steer away from having path lights placed in the lawn. This is a place where they will suffer a lot of abuse from year round maintenance: Lawn mowers, snow shovels and edgers will reap havoc. That being said, there is a more contemporary lighting approach that can be used in places where normal path lights can't be. A recessed path light actually becomes a part of the pathway by core drilling the cement and creating a place for the light to sit flush within the cement. The end result is a sleek looking fixture that really stands out in a beautifully understated way.
Aside from these three examples, I can think of at least 3 or 4 additional ways a pathway could be illuminated depending on the situation. This is exactly why working in collaboration with your lighting designer is so critical: their goal is to come up with a creative solution for all your lighting needs.
Your lighting designer has a wealth of knowledge and know how in the world of landscape lighting. This is what they bring to the table when you meet with them. You are the one who knows how you enjoy your outdoor living experience. It's the marriage of understanding in lighting design with the knowledge of how the space will be enjoyed that creates incredible results.
If you have an upcoming project and would like to get some ideas before meeting with one of our experienced lighting designers, check out our gallery: www.utahlights.com/gallery