Most people recognize the importance of proper lighting: candles shimmering on the dining table for that romantic dinner, using dimmers in luxurious bedrooms and spa bathrooms, or task lighting over a kitchen island. Generally, people also accept that curb appeal is crucial whether you are selling your home or just wanting to show your house’s best face. It’s curious then, that so few people recognize the importance of outdoor and landscape lighting. When you drive down your street at night, is your house the third “black hole” from the corner? And, no that single 60-watt bulb over your front door isn’t enough. It may help you find the lock to unlock your door, but let’s face it, you already know where it is.

I recently met with Carrington and Pamela Vanston from Outdoor Lighting Perspectives to discuss outdoor lighting. “Outdoor lighting is lighting which will enhance the beauty and security of the exterior of your home and property. Two main considerations are security and design.”, says Ms. Vanston.

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From a security viewpoint, you want your home to appear occupied, not dark and empty. The house number should also be illuminated. It’s a convenience for the pizza delivery person, but vital when an ambulance is trying to find your house. Seconds count in an emergency. Having well-lit paths up to the house will prevent trip hazards. The last thing you want is a visitor falling and breaking a hip before they even make it in the front door.

So, you decide that, yes, you do want and need outdoor lighting. What’s next?

Design should start with who uses the house: are there elderly residents or regular visitors that need to be accommodated?  View your house through the eyes of a visitor. Is it easy to navigate from parking to the front door?  Don’t ignore the rear of the property, especially if you entertain. Will visitors navigate stairs and pathways well, even in dusk conditions?  Finally, aesthetics.  How does your house work and look?  Do you entertain in your backyard in warm weather months?  Having a well-lit backyard will extend your hours of use and everyone’s enjoyment. If you are installing outdoor lighting in Spring or Summer, you may forget that by 5 o’clock in winter your backyard will be in total darkness. Lighting trees, perimeter gardens, and architectural features, both front and back will expand your property. Your house and property will look bigger when your eye extends right to the perimeter of the landscaping. You can also focus on special areas, like a water feature with a submersible light. The water will glow with light and life.  Light is energy, creates form, and evokes emotion. Bring your property to life. Show its full beauty.

Picking the right lights is equally important. Some just stick in a bunch of solar-powered landscape light sticks. They may glow, but they won’t light. And that glow will be all about the light, saying “look at me, the light over here”. Lights should cast light over what you want people to see, that beautiful birch tree, a birdbath, or cascading up a cedar fence. It’s about the feature being lit, not the light.

Some people think they should just have the landscapers put in the lights when they are redoing the property. I was one of those people. The problem is some landscapers will only have one or maybe two light styles in a particular wattage.  They will either not put in enough lights, or if they need more wattage, just use additional lights. They may also only offer LED, because they are easier to install, not a variety that suits the function. It’s understandable. Landscapers are landscape experts, not lighting experts.  So, who do you trust?

Outdoor Lighting Perspectives specialize in outdoor lighting. That is all they do. They are lighting designers, not just installers. They also manufacture their lights – in North America. Importantly, they provide a 30-year warranty (on-site) rather than the most common 5-year, “you-mail-us-back-the-light” warranty. When we booked an appointment, we expected a visit with photos in brochures of what we were buying. Not so.  Outdoor Lighting Perspectives arrived in time to setup a live demonstration before dusk.  We got to preview what our landscape lighting would look like before we bought. I had no idea our property could look so amazing. Wow.

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I wondered how much electricity the lights would use and how to budget.  We picked many more lights than we expected we would. All of our lights cost only around 10% of our landscape budget. And, they cost less than $5 a month to run.  The timer even “knows” when dusk is, so it is set it and forget it. I love driving into the driveway at night to a welcoming, well-lit property. I still get that “who lives here?” feeling.

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Make sure you tell them how you were referred.
Outdoor Lighting Perspectives is offering my clients an exclusive 10% discount.

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– Chip Barkel, MCNE, SRES, Toronto Real Estate. Extraordinary Service. Top Results.