Designing an Outdoor Lighting System
What all goes into designing an outdoor lighting system? In the video above, Kyle McKelvy takes us through his approach to transforming a property with stunning results. We also have provided additional insight below in the breakdown. Check it out!
The concrete benches around the pool area of this home were broken into different sections rather one one long bench. We decided to enhance this unique feature with LED strip lights that run underneath the bench creating an unforgettable impression at nighttime. Typically, we like to work with the construction company to have them build a lip underneath the bench to easily hide the strip lights. Although thats an ideal situation, that’s not always how it works out but the end result still gives off that “floating” glow effect. In this specific design, the highlighted bench helps continue the perimeter lighting around the property and gives a nice balance of light to an otherwise dark wall.
To set the scene of the rear of the home, we used perimeter lighting. Using various fixtures we highlighted the palm trees and banana trees, the concrete benches that run along the back wall, and we put some lights on the kids play structure in the back corner as well.
Pro tip: You can add some spot lights to the trees behind the fence to give the space some height and make it appear larger.
One notable feature of the home was the covered outdoor structure. When sitting inside the structure, the trees in the back were really dominant so we highlighted them to create an impressive focal point. Next, we installed strip lights underneath the fireplace to enhance the warm feel of the structure. Couple those with the overhead can lights from within the structure and it really brings out the welcoming atmosphere that the clients wanted out of this space.
We see a lot of missed opportunities on landscape lighting designs. For example, we lit the bamboo that is in front of the fence on this property, which is what most people would do, but we like to take things a step further. We also added lights to highlight the trees behind the fence – something a lot of designers typically miss. This really allowed us to grow the space and add height to the sidelines, creating more of a dramatic feel — as opposed to just illuminating the bamboo.
Another common part of our outdoor light project that we often see missed is property illuminating the side yard. Just as the client put in a lot of time and energy into the design, including the concrete stairs and landscapes, we really wanted to make this piece stand out at night. The key elements that we wanted to ensure that the stairs were properly lit and that we wanted to incorporate the design elements of the accent lights. We accented the trees along both sides of the path (including vine maples), while lighting the heavily-traveled portions of the side yard, from the front yard to the pool on the top. Also, the homeowner stored garbage cans out of site, so we ensured a complete design that creates an attractive and functional atmosphere for all uses.
To enhance the properties waterfalls, we ran a strip light underneath the lip where the water shears off. The ends up creating a nice glow that compliments the glow at the base of the waterfall, balancing out the rest of the entranceway.
To further balance out the entrance way, we use P10 LED lights on the entry steps and added a few more landscape lights, wall washers, and spotlights for the other landscape elements on the entrance way. It’s really important that we ensured that this part of the project was well-lit because the architectural elements of this house gave us the opportunity to highlight the 2nd-story, creating an entranceway that is really warm and welcoming.
Last, the sitting area of the property had an incredible view that incorporates a mature Japanese maple. It was our aim to draw the eyes and showcase this view this particular client. To accomplish this, we we used the Japanese maple to pull the sight lines to this view, which is great when the client and visitors can see it at their fireplace or through the home’s many windows.