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How to Elevate Your Home’s Exterior with Outdoor Lighting Designs

By Ed Ball | Published on August 30, 2023 | 7 min read

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Most people don’t realize the potential of a home’s exterior until they see it lit up. We have all seen a few homes and businesses that glow out of the darkness at night with a subtly enchanting allure, all thanks to a few cleverly placed exterior lights. Perhaps it’s an unusually inviting porch or exterior walls that seem to manifest new and ethereal architecture when the sun sets.

Exterior lighting has the power to give your home presence on the block and to elevate your own at-home experience with just a few subtle upgrades to the lightscape around your property. At Urban Ambiance, lightscape design is one of the things we do best. Let’s explore nine of our favorite ways that outdoor lighting can be used to elevate your home’s exterior function, appearance, and impression all at once.


New and Better Porch Lights

The best place to start when upgrading your exterior lighting is the porch light. Most homes have a single porch light, often a very old lantern fixture or even a simple exposed bulb near the front door to guide you in from the dark. The porch light is essential for beckoning to visitors, delivery persons, and trick-or-treaters, but you could do so much more.

The first step is to upgrade your original porch light to a new and more modern fixture, but why stop there? You can also install additional lanterns or even overhead lights within a covered porch to make your front porch area glow with warmth and create a welcoming seating area instead of just a deck for packages.


Outdoor Living Illumination

Speaking of inviting seating areas, new lighting design can also enhance your outdoor living spaces. If you already have an outdoor dining, kitchen, or event space, bring it to life with more comprehensive outdoor lighting installations. Add lanterns to the tops of your deck railing posts or overhead lights wherever you may have a covered deck or patio.

Add soft lighting around your hot tub or more brilliant illumination around the grill or outdoor kitchen. Emplace a few electric tiki torches near your firepit or a few soft glowing orbs near where you hang your hammocks to ensure that the party doesn’t have to stop on warm summer nights when your family or guests are enjoying your outdoor space.


Accentuate the Exterior with Landscape Lighting

What makes homes and businesses glow out of the darkness and take on new shapes in the night is called landscape lighting. These are often hidden lights at the base of each wall, casting glowing light shapes upward to illuminate the house. You can show off your inherent architecture and even create the illusion of new columns and details through subtle landscape lighting design.

Installing landscape lighting is also a great addition to your home security system because it will light up any interference that occurs directly around the house.


Flood Lights for the Front Drive

In terms of both home security and welcoming nighttime safety, a flood light for the front drive is always a good choice. Mounting a motion-sensing flood light to your garage or carport can ensure that those parking in the night can always see clearly, welcoming visitors and helping family members get home safe after dark. At the same time, that responsive floodlight is a great way to tell any unwanted company that they can be seen and should comport themselves respectfully.


Illuminate the Hedges and Flowerbeds

Of course, landscape lighting can also be used to accentuate your landscape features, as well. If you have hedges or flower beds that form intersting shapes or are worthy of illumination in your hard, you can turn your evening garden into a magical place with a few hidden exterior lights around the property. Wiring low-voltage exterior lights is a simple process that allows you to place lighting further away from the house to create a more inviting and comprehensive exterior lighting design.


Lit Ceiling Fans Above the Deck

If you have a covered deck or covered porch, one of the best overhead lighting options is a lit ceiling fan. Ceiling fans provide a valuable source of fresh air on still days and outdoor cooling in the summer. Lit ceiling fans tend to be especially lovely, combining both elegant modern fanblade design with stylish lighting options, while also illuminating your porch or deck with clear overhead light.

A light ceiling fan is the perfect choice for an outdoor living space, whether that is a relaxing back deck or an inviting seating area on your front porch.


Dining Under a Covered Porch with Outdoor Chandeliers

Or you can create a truly beautiful outdoor dining setup for your summer hosting. Set up a durable dining table below outdoor-rated chandeliers twinkling overhead. Your guests will be delighted with your innovation and elegance in creating an enchanting outdoor living space to host summer evening dinner parties.

Outdoor chandeliers combine best when you also have an outdoor wet bar or kitchen to serve beautiful canapes, multi-course meals, and mix gorgeous cocktails for your friends to enjoy in the soft outdoor lighting you have designed. Of course, of this depends on the shelter of an extended patio roof.


String Lights and Pergolas

Of the many ways to light your backyard patio, one of the most beautiful and DIY-friendly is fairy lights wrapped around a pergola. Pergolas are beautiful outdoor living space frames with beams that can be used in a variety of decor styles. You can hang curtains, attach trellises, and line them with string lights. We love to drape a criss-cross of LED lights over the top to create an ambiance of glittering stars above your backyard party.

The best thing about LED string lights is that you can string them yourself; no real installation required. Today, you can even find smart fairy lights that will change colors, blinking patterns, and brightness on command.


Deck Lighting and Lantern Posts

If you’re looking for a more formal lighting system for your outdoor space, we love the look and feel of lantern deck lighting. Turn the posts of your deck railings into lantern posts so that periodic soft-glow LED lanterns are arranged at even intervals all the way around your hosting area. This creates the perfect semi-formal ambiance for outdoor dining.

If you have a patio instead, you can use emplaced lantern posts at key points around the patio and out into your landscaping to create a similar effect. Old-fashioned lantern heads are an elegant choice in any setting.


Lace Fairy Lights Above the Garden

A fan favorite for low-voltage exterior lighting is strings of fairy lights. Fairy lights can make any outdoor space feel more magical and lighthearted. If you enjoy hosting gatherings of family and friends, fairy lights can mark your back deck and, in fact, your entire garden as a venue-like space for your favorite people to relax. You can string your fairy lights in a criss-cross above your heads or use a central pole to create a tent of electric stars above.

Fairy lights can make a pagoda or pergola more romantic by adding a soft twinkle to the space. Parents also enjoy using fairy lights in spaces like the family vegetable garden to make the space more welcoming for children to enjoy spending time outside both during the day and after dark.


Fire Pits and Seating Circles

Everyone loves a fire pit. The hallmark of any classic backyard party, especially at night, is gathering around the fire to roast s’mores and let the conversation flow late into the evening. You can DIY a firepit, buy fire-pit furniture, or have a fire pit professionally built in your backyard. What really matters, however, is that there’s a safe central point of fire circled by comfortable outdoor seating.

Be sure to set up a few tables as part of the circle or nearby for drinks and snacks, and to create a space to store dry firewood nearby.


Put Your Tree In the Spotlight

Does your yard have one very special tree? When a tree grows old and large, it deserves a little special attention. You can use landscape lighting to illuminate your beautiful tree from below, showing off how huge and beautiful its trunk has become. You can also use low-voltage fairy lights twined around its branches to show the glorious full canopy created by your home’s special tree.


Line Garden Paths with Enchanting Lanterns

Last but never least, make even the walk up to your house beautiful with garden path lights. Another use for wiring low-voltage exterior lights in your garden is to create a double-line of lanterns that provide both safety and an enchanting sense of welcome along front walks and garden paths.

Guests will feel that they are beckoned along toward your front door when you light the front walk with a row of little lanterns, while family will be equally enchanted to take evening walks through the backyard if you similarly light a winding back garden path.


Contact us today for more tips and tricks to keep your landscaping beautiful.