6 Great Picks for Outdoor Lighting
1. SUBLIME SCONCES Provide a guiding light and a nod to the nautical with the sophisticated Chambrel sconce, available in three sizes with a simple caged-cone shade. From $90. shadesoflight.com
2. SUNNY DELIGHT Ikea's outdoor lighting line, Solvinden, is mostly solar-powered (and all a steal). Buy several of these paper-look lanterns to hang from your trees or pergola. They're available in a few shapes, sizes and hues, including white, blue ombre, floral and red-orange. From $8. ikea.com
3. FOLLOW THE LIGHT Grant safe and stylish passage through the dark with Portfolio 2-watt black low-voltage LED path lights. They're tough enough to withstand abuse from errant footsteps and automatic sprinklers, and the hard-wired system is fairly doable for newbies. $28. lowes.com
4. STRING THEORY Will the cafe light trend ever dim? We're betting not—so invest in quality. These commercial grade strands feature vintage-inspired LED lights and shiny brass caps. $108 for a 48-foot string with 15 bulbs. shopterrain.com
5. IN THE SPOTLIGHT Showcase gardens, trees and architectural features with LED smart lights by Philips Hue. Paired with the Smart Bridge Hub ($60), they take direction via voice command or app, and as the seasons change, you can tint the light any color you dream of. (No, really. Choose from 16 million hues.) $340 for three. homedepot.com
6. ALL ABUZZ Sweeten the backyard mood with a fun beehive-silhouetted lantern. The LED bulbs are solar-powered, but a USB port means you can also recharge the battery on gray days. $99. ballarddesigns.com
Flip The Switch
Afraid of the dark? Don't fret. Charles Camacho of Circa Lighting sheds light on how to get a pro look in your yard.
START AT THE DOOR. You don't have to take on all the outdoor areas at once. Focus on the entryway—with sconces, a pendant or a combination of the two. From there, you can bring in pathway lighting and subtle landscape lighting for the trees and the front of the house. All that will go a long way in upping your curb appeal.
MIX IT UP. Just like with indoor lighting, everything shouldn't be lit with the same intensity. There needs to be a hierarchy, and there should be some black space. You want to manipulate the eye to highlight the positives like trees and shrubs and shield some of those other things you haven't gotten to just yet.
MATERIAL MATTERS. Brass is the longest-lasting metal, but it's also going to be the most expensive, along with copper. Aluminum holds up really well and is more reasonably priced. Resin or polymer is typically the lowest cost, but it's the least resilient.
OPT FOR LED. With demand, economy of scale and increases in production technology, the price of LED lighting continues to drop while the quality just gets better. Natural daylight is 100 percent CRI (a measure of how colors look under a light source), and some LEDs are in the 98 percent CRI range. These days, it's the vast majority of lighting we work with.