When I was renovating our centuries-old farmhouse in Italy, there was so much to do and so many bylaws to follow I was at first overwhelmed. As the rebuilding and decorating of the interiors neared completion the exterior spaces demanded my attention. The entranceway had to be exciting. My dreams of sharing this piece of heaven with family and guests had become a reality. I needed the right setting for dining al fresco, and relaxing while taking in the incredible views of a lush countryside dotted with olive groves, lavender fields and grape vines. How to incorporate lighting that complemented the scene was now at the top of my list. I researched like mad.
Whether your outside space is large or small, the satisfying experience of sitting in the open air will be enhanced with some well-planned lighting. Just like inside, your outdoor needs are diverse. Task lighting if you are cooking or like to read; ambient light that offers a warm glow to the setting; spots and light stands to keep steps and pathways safe; decorative lights to show off greenery and flower gardens.
Electric lights require wiring, which can be strung along the porch or patio roof or overhang. Wiring can be hidden underground. But since you are outside and dealing with wet weather, it’s best to have a professional help you to plan and install these lights. In my glassed-in dining area I hung string bulb lights. They are on a dimmer so the light can be balanced with candle light as well. Small candles hang from metal holders along the wall and there are vases of candles on the dining table. The effect is both practical and romantic.
Lots of ambient lighting creates a welcoming spot. Traditional lanterns are always suitable either hanging or set up on tables and the ground. And why not splurge on a chandelier or dreamy pendant light that will dazzle over a covered table? Light strings are popular and easy to install. Lots of choice — a string of fairy lights or larger Edison lights, colours, and either electric, battery powered or solar powered. When purchasing your light strings or any exterior light, look for the installation instructions. They will be described as dry, damp or wet.
Uplighting is a favourite option for highlighting trees and garden walls. Light beams that stream up from the ground show off building architecture, entranceways and garden gates in a magical, dreamy way. These can be solar powered, but make sure they get enough sunlight. LEDs are lighting the way outdoors with modern placements such as hidden under contemporary seating and tables. White or coloured light projects up and around the base giving the feeling that you are floating on a cloud.
Up your enjoyment quotient. Stretch out and relax with your favourite tunes. Combining light and sound, Kichler has the Davis portable Bluetooth LED lantern in designs that include the bamboo style shown here. To help you complete your project, Kichler also has burial posts and ladders, pedestal mounts, and illuminated address numbers. www.kichler.com.
Browse your favourite sites for inspiration and check out what’s new in exterior lighting. You’ll prolong your enjoyment of being outdoors in the evening. When outdoor light and sound are being planned, always keep your neighbours in mind.