The Bright Ideas Blog

Design inspiration and outdoor lighting tips and advice for homeowners

Up Lighting & Down Lighting: The Best of Both Worlds

Whether you are looking to add that missing element to your night time atmosphere, or simply want to create safety and security for your home, grasping an understanding of certain lighting design fundamentals will be key. When it comes to lighting design, it all starts with up lighting and down lighting. 


Up lighting and down lighting are the bread and butter of any basic lighting design. You need a balance of both to create a scene that has balance and composition. The last thing you want to do is create a scene that looks flat and two dimensional. Creating depth, layers, and contrast, requires multiple light sources being used to create different scenes. 

Let us briefly discuss how these two approaches are tasked. Down lighting is frequently used to gently bathe an area with light. This is done by placing it high up and aiming it down at the point requiring illumination. This type of lighting is used to illuminate patios, walkways, steps, driveways, etc. 


Up lighting is used to do the opposite of a down light (as you might well imagine).  Lighting from below is used at, or near, the base of an object. Casting the light upward from the base effectively captures the image of whatever it is being lit. This type of lighting is used to define trees, architectures, water features, statues, etc. This lighting approach is used to create a back drop and help define a space. 

You might be wondering why up lighting is important if all you'd like to do, for example, is down light your back patio or your front entry way. The answer is simply, to help create a scene and define the area itself. Down lighting your back patio will provide a functional light to the general area, but it's not until you add up lighting as a back drop to define the space itself that your patio will be lit to create an atmosphere. 


Explaining how up lights are used to define a space is slightly difficult to explain, but imagine walking down a winding gravel path. On either side of the dark walkway there is a line of trees running parallel with the path. Walking down the path, you notice that there is a light fixture between the path and each tree. These lights illuminate the trees and in turn help to better define the shape of the path. By casting light on the trees, we are able to outline the path itself without directly casting light onto it. 

The most effective way to light this path, of course, would be to combine these two types of lights together. Using down lighting to illuminate the path itself, and up lights to define the shape of the path, we are able to create a scene that has depth and composition. Throwing lighting on something is easy, but creating a scene requires vision. 

Give us a call: To learn more about how to light your outdoor living space, call us at (801) 440-7647 to schedule a free consultation, or feel free to simply fill out a contact form on our website. 

Located in Midvale, Landscape Lighting Pro of Utah serves throughout Utah's residential areas, including Salt Lake City, Park City, Draper, Davis and Utah Counties. Our outdoor lighting portfolio includes projects throughout Utah and beyond.  

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