Entertaining with Exterior Lighting

A few years ago, I had a client come to me with a simple problem but a complicated solution. They loved spending time on their deck, but they just did not have enough lighting in the back of their house to entertain. There was only one light off the back door and the back of the house was elevated, so that light did not provide any lighting for the lower patio area. We knew that the solution was to add more lighting, but this is a more complicated problem to fix.

The client wanted to add lights to the top of their deck posts to not only light up the deck area, but also throw light out into the yard. Additionally, they wanted to add a coach light to the lower patio area. They had a few requirements: 1) they did not want to have to deal with low voltage lighting which would require transformers and timers, and 2) they wanted all of the lights to work off the existing light switch inside of the house.


We addressed the coach light first. It was easier of the two issues to fix since the basement was unfinished and we had access to electrical junction boxes in the basement ceiling to tie into existing switches. We brought the electrical across the basement ceiling and cut in a junction box on the outside wall, and then we cut the siding out cleanly and added a siding block for the new light to mount on.

The lights on the deck posts were a little more difficult. The deck was completed and the homeowner did not want to see any exposed conduit or wiring along the railing. We decided to drill through the posts and hide the wiring below the deck before taking it back to the house. The process of drilling through a post is not easy and takes a long time but after ruining several long drill bits, we finally drilled all the way through. With the wiring now set up, we could now run it into the house and tie into the same junction box that had the switch. The homeowner supplied us with lights that were designed to go on top of a light post (the kind you would usually see at the end of a driveway), so we had to get a mounting base that was similar to that post. We found them at a local hardware store, and we were able to mount them directly on top of the post.


With the new lighting installed on the back of the house, the client had plenty of lighting to entertain. We actually added dimmer switches to the lights for the times when they didn’t need as much light. Adding lighting to an outdoor space is a great way to enhance your outdoor living space. There are literally hundreds of lighting choices to choose from ranging from simple and inexpensive to very ornate and you guessed it, very expensive.

When choosing the outdoor lighting for your house, there are a few things that you must consider. First, make sure that the light you choose is actually designed for outdoor use. If you use and interior light outdoors, the finish on the light can ruin and more importantly, the weather can cause the light to fail. Secondly, consider location. Before you add a light, think about what you are trying to accomplish. Do you want a small intimate space lit up or are you trying to light up your entire back yard. The placement of the light will definitely determine how much of an area will be lit up. Thirdly, make sure the light is appropriate for the location, coach lights are designed to mount on walls, post lights on posts, but also consider size. The light should not be so big and obnoxious that it looks out of place, consider the area where the light is going and pick a size that works. A lighting professional at any lighting store can help you with this. Finally, have fun with it. Lights are accent pieces to your home. Make sure they reflect your style and personality.

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