The Bright Ideas Blog

Design inspiration and outdoor lighting tips and advice for homeowners

Light vs. Dark: Finding the Balance in your Landscape Lighting Design

Fashioning an outdoor lighting system that inspires beautiful illumination, and provides function without sacrificing ambiance, atmosphere, or splendor, is a true art.

There is such a thing as too much light. Often times less says more. The issue is figuring out how to find the right balance between light and shadow.

Think about Atmosphere

The restaurant industry is a wonderful example for helping describe how different approaches to lighting can be used to effectively set a stage.

Ambiance is key to setting the mood dinners will experience. Think about the way various light layers are used to set the mood in a romantic bistro. You’ll see low light levels setting the mood with candles/lanterns emitting a certain aura that motivates people to stay a while longer to enjoy dessert or one more glass of wine.


The key to creating this kind of atmosphere with light is to use low, warmly toned, light levels. A splash of shadow here and there simply adds drama to the design.

Alternatively to the mood this kind of lighting creates, you’ll see much brighter lights in more casual/fast paced eating establishment where the goal is to get more people in and out the door. Brighter lights encourage a faster paced experience. 

Landscape Lighting

The correct light sets the stage for a romantic restaurant similar to the way landscape lighting sets the stage for your outdoor living experience.

Lighting is multidimensional. While enjoying a meal in a fine establishment, several layers of light are used to create a picturesque setting. The candle on the table, the underlit countertops, etc., are all working together to set the mood. Landscape Lighting is no different.

There are several layers of light used in the landscape to create contrast, depth, and balance. For example, let’s look at ways a back patio could be lit.patio-and-down-lighting-sandy-utah

A back patio can be bathed in a soft moonlight creating a functional light that doesn’t overwhelm. In addition, trees can be up lit around the patio area and further out in the landscape to provide a sense of depth and provide the viewer with greater visual control over their surroundings.

Some might prefer bistro style café lights hung in swaging stretches above the patio area to create a more festive atmosphere. In combination with a dimmer switch, these hanging lights can have their volume turned up for guests, or turned down for personal enjoyment.

When thinking about lighting your outdoor living space, think about the experience you’ve had dining out at a restaurant with a romantic atmosphere. The goal should be to recreate this experience. Your back patio should a place for relaxed satisfaction. Like going to a restaurant with a romantic ambiance, your outdoor living space is where you get to escape from the rest of the world.


Landscape Lighting Makes All the Difference

At Landscape Lighting Pro of Utah, the art of outdoor illumination is a real passion we work to perfect. Designing elegantly bespoke landscape lighting systems is simply all we do. For over 15 years, our award winning team of designers and craftsmen have striven to bring the best outdoor lighting experience possible to people’s homes and businesses across the Wasatch Front and beyond.

Located in Midvale, Landscape Lighting Pro of Utah installs, maintains, and repairs lighting systems throughout Utah's residential areas, including Salt Lake City, Park City, Draper, Davis & Utah Counties.

If you have an upcoming project you’d like help with, call us at (801)440-7647 for more information, schedule a free consultation, or feel free to simply fill out a contact form on our website,

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