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Rejuvenation's 'Amity' wall brackets flanking the door go nicely with their 'Columbia' pendants on this rustic porch.

Light in the Landscape

by Mary Ellen Polson on April 10, 2013

in Garden

ABOVE: Rejuvenation’s ‘Amity’ wall brackets flanking the door go nicely with their ‘Columbia’ pendants on this rustic porch.

You can extend the Arts & Crafts ambiance to the porch, garden paths, the garage, and the garden. These days you have many options for lighting in all the variations of Arts & Crafts: California Mission, Asian-inspired, Prairie School, East Coast Shingle and Cottage, English and European. But it’s not just style that’s important: placement, mounting, and attention to how the light will be directed are crucial, too. New innovations mean many exterior lights consume less energy, and when properly installed, the fixtures can minimize the impact of light pollution on the night sky and on the surrounding neighborhood. (Wouldn’t it be nice if you and your neighbors could see the stars?)

Porch Lights Whether flush-mounted, pendant, or lantern, a porch ceiling light is still a good choice for illumination on a small entry porch. But a single overhead light won’t cut it on a porch that’s especially large or wide. Install these classics in multiples every few feet, though, and you’ll create a sense of ambiance that’s in keeping with the period look of the house. To pinpoint light on the doorknob and keyhole, try a pair of sconces or lanterns on either side of the front door, with or without an overhead fixture for general lighting. For a low-impact vibe conducive to quiet conversations on the porch, consider a series of hard-wired foot lights, installed along the porch wall at roughly knee height. These lights are usually shielded by cups or mini overhangs so light isn’t directed upward. Many are available in fanciful Arts & Crafts styles and patina-friendly metals like copper and bronze.

Pathway & Landscape Both low-voltage and hard-wired garden or path lights are ideal for illuminating paths, steps, or walkways. (The decorative ones make excellent accent lights.) Low-voltage fixtures — usually no more than a couple of feet high — run off a transformer that plugs into a standard wall outlet, ramping down the standard 120-volt energy flow to a mere 12 volts.

Low voltage lights are usually mounted on a spike that sticks into the ground like a tent peg. That makes it a snap to exchange the decorative part of the light for one with Arts & Crafts styling. It may also be possible to swap your existing bulbs for LEDs, which include both the driver and emitter in a single cartridge. (LEDs, or light emitting diodes, are long-lived and put out light that’s warmer in quality than older low-voltage bulbs.)

Hard-wired garden lights offer the advantage of permanence over low-voltage lights, which can be knocked over or damaged by equipment, heavy snow, or even heavy rainfall. Hard-wired systems go just about anywhere you want them: at ground level attached to a conduit, along walls, or mounted on a railing, post, or column. Because of their versatility, they’re also a good choice for ambient lighting on decks and patios.

Low-to-the ground fixtures place light in such a way that it’s easy for a visitor on foot to see where he or she is going. Similarly, a tall post light along the entrance to a path or a pair of column-mounted lights on either side of the entry to a driveway can help direct guests arriving by car safely onto your property. Both of these options make use of sizeable fixtures that can be true architectural style statements for your home.

Utility Lighting Need a light over a garage or shed for visibility at night? Industrial-style lights — a look that romanticizes style points of warehouse, barn, and gasoline-station lighting of the 1920s and ’30s — pick up where the vintage originals have left off. These fixtures usually feature assorted gooseneck arms and inverted washpan or fluted shades in both raw and enameled metal. They work well either singly or in pairs, casting rakish spotlights on the simplest outbuilding.

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