Margaret Chambers: Exceptional Exterior Lighting

I discussed interior lighting in my last article, but today, I want to address exterior lighting and its essential role in accenting your home and landscape.

Exterior lighting helps you get the most out of your outdoor living spaces.

Just like indoor lighting, outdoor lighting should be layered with different types of coverage. To light the front of your house, use bullet lights with bulbs that have a narrow (12°) spread. Aim them at the corners of your house or on architectural details. Fill in the gaps with soft wash lights. Generally, spotlights should be placed about 1.5 feet from whatever they’re shining on.

The lighting helps make the most out of the large covered porch and highlights the beautiful arches. The update of this 1927 home in Kessler Park preserved the original exterior light fixtures by rewiring them. PHOTO: Nathan Schroder, with design by Margaret Chambers

For front porches, I recommend hanging a light fixture over the doorway and lights on either side of the door. I like to make sure loggias have hanging lights. You can also put sconces on the columns and add extra lighting with upward and downward lights. Steps will need lights — such as risers or lit treads — so people don’t stumble.

Although LED lights are more expensive upfront, they are a wise investment because they are more energy efficient and can last 25 times longer than standard bulbs. When in doubt, use bulbs with a warm color temperature, such as 3000K.

As far as landscaping goes, there should be at least a little bit of lighting in the flowerbeds. If you have a large yard, you can light it by putting lights on posts at the corners.

A traditional home needs traditional wall sconces or an outdoor lantern, while modern homes look best when light fixtures have simple silhouettes. If you have a historic house, you may want to have the original exterior light fixtures rewired and refinished instead of replacing them.

Getting that “professionally lit” look for your house can be daunting. Between fixture placement, fixture style, voltage, wattage, color, temperature, and beam spread, there are a lot of factors. These tips will help you get started, but if you’re pressed for time or feeling unsure, you can always bring in a professional.

Margaret Chambers, a registered interior designer (RID) and American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) member, leads Chambers Interiors and Associates. Her colleague Caitlin Crowley helped edit this column. Visit for more design advice. 

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Margaret Chambers

Margaret Chambers, a registered interior designer (RID) and member of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), leads Chambers Interiors and Associates. Her colleague Caitlin Crowley helped edit this column. Find more design advice at

One thought on “Margaret Chambers: Exceptional Exterior Lighting

  • May 4, 2024 at 2:42 pm

    Wow! Very informative and impressive lines. Experience the magic of twilight with precision-crafted illumination by landscape lighting installers, turning your backyard into a captivating haven.


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