Extending Your Living Space
The garden is fast being considered to be an extension to your living space and homeowners are putting as much effort into creating a harmonious environment outside as they are inside. A beautiful garden is also considered to be one of the biggest selling features of a home and can certainly help to add value and appeal.
As the short days of winter recede, many of us will be starting to think about our gardens and dreaming up projects and schemes that we plan to undertake when the days become longer and the weather warmer. For many traditionalists this will mean planting borders, manicuring the lawn and cultivating a myriad of blooms that will add colour and life to their gardens throughout the summer, whilst others will view their garden purely as an area in which to relax.
Garden centres are already stocked with outdoor furniture, ubiquitous decking and the eclectic range of artefacts that are designed to help you enjoy your garden to the full. However, garden lighting is one of the most effective ways that you can improve the look and functionality of your outdoor living space and increases the time that you can appreciate this natural extension to your home. Garden lighting has moved beyond the occasional wall lantern or halogen floodlight illuminating the patio or garden path, blending functionality with creativity. Strategic outdoor lighting enables you to enjoy aspects of your garden at all times of the day or evening, all year ‘round, whether for entertainment purposes or your own pleasure.
The garden at night should be considered to be a blank canvas on which one’s own creation can evolve. Properly placed lighting can create the most wonderful ambience by silhouetting trees, highlighting favourite shrubs, accenting flowerbeds or reflecting the diamond like sparkle of droplets cascading from a water feature.
The Key to Successful Creative Lighting
The key to successful lighting is to focus in on specific architectural features:
- Uplight pergolas, archways or façades for a dramatic effect
- “Wash” sides of buildings with a subtle light
- Focus a gentle light across fences and walls
- Highlight water features with submersible lights
- Silhouette trees by placing lights below and behind them.
Bring your garden alive after dark by illuminating it with a range of carefully chosen coloured lights:
- Add warmth with tones of yellow or red
- Add a green light beneath foliage to make leaves appear greener
- Create a fresher, Nordic atmosphere with white or blue light. This is particularly effective if you have a lot of pine trees.
Subtlety is the key, since a blend of too many colours can give a gaudy appearance, unless of course you have a penchant for theme park styles.
If you are seeking more functional lighting, then low voltage fittings are the best option. Uplighters fitted into decking or patios can add that subtle but necessary source of light when the sun goes down, whether you are entertaining or just relaxing. But there are always more creative possibilities. Recessed lighting can be built into steps and fixed seating or under handrails. Each source of light becomes a feature in itself and creates the individuality and atmosphere that reflects your own needs and personality.
If you are an active barbecuer and you need more direct light, then spotlights that are discretely located but focused on your cooking area are ideal. If safety and security are your concern then there is a wide range of functional but aesthetic lighting available to illuminate steps, paths and driveways and help to prevent accidents after dark. Motion detectors that activate lighting when someone passes by have proved to be a boon for added security and safety. Another way of improving security is to have certain strategically placed lighting linked to photo electric cells that automatically turn on at dusk and off at dawn.
When creating a lighting scheme for your garden you should adopt the less is more approach. The objective must always be to see the landscape and not the lights, with the right balance between aesthetic and functional lighting.
It is important always to use lights that have the correct IP rating and are therefore suitable for outdoor lighting. Although the installation of these types of light is not difficult, it is recommended that you employ a qualified electrician for their installation.
There is a wide range of products on the market from which to choose, but the most cost-effective solution is to buy the best quality you can. By choosing quality products and having them professionally fitted you’ll have something that will not only last for years, but also maintains its good looks.
Don’t forget that you are starting with a blank canvas. Like art, there are a few basic rules that you should follow, but in the end beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Be creative. Make your garden an extension to your home. A ‘room’ under the stars!
Carolyn and Laurence James own The Light Company Direct Ltd, an independent, family run business, based in the heart of the Cotswolds. The company offers a superb range of distinctive and stylish lighting for homes and commercial establishments via mail order and the Internet. Carolyn and Laurence have selected lighting that represents the very best in design and craftsmanship. They have developed close links with key manufacturers throughout Europe and are able to offer customers many designs that are rarely seen in the UK.