The Secret to Hanging Outdoor Sconces (And Other Outdoor Lighting Tips)

Outdoor lighting is a key tool to enhancing the beauty of your home. Exterior lighting not only adds to safety and security on your property, but it also creates a visual expansion between the indoors and out. Well-placed lighting fixtures can emphasize architectural details and create a welcoming facade for your home.

Ambiance is an important factor in outdoor lighting. Exterior lighting has the power to change the overall appearance of your home and convey messages of welcome for family and friends. Use lighting to emphasize interesting features or a prize-winning flower garden. Fixtures should be selected to match the style of your home and complement other exterior features.

Exterior lighting is typically thought of as landscape lighting, highlighting steps and paths around a property. However, each piece of outdoor lighting contributes to the overall appearance of your home, perhaps most notably, the lights next to the front door.

Outdoor sconces, when placed by the front door, provide safety and security while providing a welcoming portal for accepting guests into your home. Determining where to place these fixtures is a combination of visual weight and math.

When selecting a size of and outdoor lantern, consider the height of the door. The lamp should not overpower the facade of your home, but should be substantial enough to not appear too small. It is a good rule of thumb to select a lantern that looks larger than you think you need, because once it is mounted on your house it will look smaller from the street than it will sitting in your hands.

Begin by measuring the height of your door. The center of the bulb should be placed 66 inches above the threshold of your door – about the same height at a 5’6″ person. If you only have one lantern next to the front door, the height of the lantern should be one-third of the height of your door. If you are hanging two lanterns, they should each be about one-fourth of the height of your door.

In order to maximize the effectiveness of outdoor lighting, here are a few hints:

  • Use lights with the dark sky label. These lights are designed to minimize or eliminate light glare upward into the night sky.
  • Improve safety after dark by using pathway lights to illuminate steps, pathways and slopes.
  • Conceal low-voltage lights under steps, railings or benches to turn decks, porches and patios into evening retreats.
  • Use low-level path lights to brighten your walkway and highlight nearby flower beds.