Here in San Antonio, we have such great architectural materials that we use for our home facades, in our landscaping, and in our outdoor structures. Stone, stucco, and even stamped concrete all have these fabulous subtle textures that make them rustic and unique.
One of my goals in lighting anything whether it’s a home, or pool, or garden or tree is to try to use the light to catch some of the texture of the item I’m illuminating. I always shake my head when I drive by a commercial sign that’s lit with a gargantuan spotlight that totally “blows out” the sign. You see these bright spots or hot spots where the reflection of the spot light off the item it’s illuminating is almost blinding.
Good outdoor lighting will allow you to appreciate the texture that you see during the day. Here are the attributes you want to look for in great outdoor lighting.
This seems like such a simple formula – something like measuring a box. With your outdoor architectural lighting you want to achieve width. You want to make sure to illuminate the very far left end and the very far right end of the building or structure. You want the illuminated structure to represent itself, from a structure perspective, the same way it does during the day. Imagine looking at a house and the left and right sides of the house disappeared. That’s what you want to avoid by fully illuminating all the way to the far left and far right ends of the structure.
The idea of illuminating the full height of the structure is the same. Imagine looking a fabulous architectural structure with spires or turrets and not being able to see those in the evening. Whether the highest architectural detail of your home is a horizontal roofline or a nice mix of facades, you want to make sure that the height of your home doesn’t disappear into the darkness.
Based on some of the architectural materials we use often, some might present more of a challenge in terms of being able to see the subtle depth of the surface at night. For example, with stucco, this might not be possible. But, with stone and other great materials, our goal is to try to create a lighting situation where you can see and appreciate the depth of those textures with the outdoor lighting.
So, when evaluating outdoor lighting, make sure the lighting achieves width, height, and depth. All 3 are critical to good outdoor lighting.