With the month of May here and almost gone, that means COTTAGE SEASON has started!! Whoop! Why not make the most of your home away from home even after the sun has gone down and install some outdoor landscape lighting!
If you are a cottage owner, there’s a good chance that you spend more of your weekends at the cottage than you do in your own backyard in the summer. While you might use your cottage to get away from the city and enjoy the great outdoors, it’s important to remember that outdoor and landscape lighting can keep you safe and secure while also allowing you to maximize your usable space.
Because of these benefits, we recommend installing a landscape lighting system around your cottage. If you’re hesitant to this idea, you’re not alone. Most cottage goers prefer the natural light of a starlit sky or and roaring campfire. That’s why our lighting experts have outlined the best ways to use landscape lighting for the cottage so you can have all the benefits that an outdoor lighting design offers while not compromising on your outdoor experience.
Being able to see the stars is what people want from the cottage so minimizing light pollution is paramount. Design follows function, my friends.
Point Light Down
In order to preserve that view of the starry night sky, keep light pointed down. Using shields to shine the light downward as opposed to up toward the sky will help create a calm and subtle ambiance in your outdoor space and help you avoid light pollution. If you have neighbours near by, down lighting will also keep you from shining light onto your neighbour’s property while trying to illuminate your own.
Using fixtures that are low to the ground such as stake and post lights may be a happy compromise that allows your family to safely navigate the yard or pathways at the cottage without blocking your enjoyment of the night sky or the moon on the water.
This doesn’t mean you can’t put a light over the front or back door, but you may want to skip the uplighting to highlight the façade on the front of the cottage or avoid the spotlights pointed up at trees for curb appeal.
Use Lower Wattages
You don’t want to miss out on the fireflies, shooting stars or seeing the Big Dipper at night, so using dimmer lights at the cottage makes sense. Not all fixtures can accommodate lower wattages, not all locations can accommodate this (pool or dock lighting for instance needs to remain bright).
Solar powered lights might can be the perfect compromise here.
Lights On When Needed
Timers and motion sensors can be super helpful at the cottage. Regardless of what lighting options you choose it is helpful to have them controlled by a timer. Timers can help to save energy and minimize the impacts of artificial lighting. Not only will your human and wildlife neighbours appreciate it, you’ll have better control over your hydro bills.
This way lights only come on when needed or when you want them to, and you won’t forget to turn them off! Plus, it can help security if it appears there are people there all the time and not just on weekends.
Maintaining the dark sky is important to many cottagers. Consider a self-imposed light curfew and have all lights off by 11PM for instance.
Security Is Still Important
Security at the cottage is important too, but the risks may look a little different than in the city. Cottages are notorious for uneven terrain, exposed roots, steep slopes, docks and ponds, unfamiliar paths, etc. Ensure that where sure footing or staying on the path is important that appropriate lighting is provided.
The last thing you want to do during a weekend away is take a trip to the
emergency room for an injury caused by poor visibility. Pathways, steps and docks are three of the most important areas to illuminate to create a safe outdoor environment at the cottage.
Before installing your landscape lighting design, take a moment in the daytime to walk the perimeter of your cottage and scout out any areas that could present a hazard in the dark – ascending, descending or uneven areas, stairs, pathways or the dock. Don’t forget the signpost or number for your cottage. Whether it’s a weathered sign nailed to a tree, a dedicated post, or some numbers next to the door, make sure this is clearly visible at night. This not only helps your family and friends find your cottage after dark, but it’s essential should emergency services ever be required.
This doesn’t mean your security lighting be entirely utilitarian. There are a lot of options to provide safety lighting in attractive and appealing ways that don’t cause light pollution. There are a lot of attractive plastic and resin options that will require less maintenance and withstand the elements better than metal like cast iron.
Lighting Work Areas
Are there areas where you do work after dark? A nighttime fishing trip, an evening swim that requires some foot washing, or a late night barbeque may all require additional outdoor lighting on a deck, dock or boat house.
Motion sensors may be just the ticket for areas where activity at night is more sporadic. This way you have light, but only when you need it. The most important consideration here is safety, but also keep in mind where the light is directed to keep the skies dark.
Keep It Simple
When it comes to a landscape lighting design for your cottage there’s one important thing to remember: the cottage is not the city. Because of this, you should not treat your cottage landscape lighting design the same as the outdoor lighting you have at home. When creating a lighting design for your cottage, use a ‘less is more’ approach that allows you enough light to be safe but not so much that you’re outshining the moon.
You might want to skip the chrome or polished fixtures for something more traditional. Choosing a black or pewter finish means the fixtures will blend in at night when not in use. Ornate and intricate fixtures will look out of place in a rustic cabin or cottage. Instead, consider fixtures that incorporate reclaimed wood, or textured natural elements.
In the city you set up outdoor lighting so that you can enjoy your landscaping and architectural features, but while you’re at the cottage you want to enjoy nature. It’s hard to see the stars and the fireflies when there are lights everywhere. Another consideration is the impact excessive lighting can have on wildlife behaviour when artificial lighting is added to their natural habitat.
One more consideration – extra lighting means extra bugs. Bzzzzz!
Don’t Want Electric Lights?
Some cottage owners prefer not to have electric lights at the cottage at all. Depending on the layout, location, and the soil conditions of your cottage property, it may be impractical to run wiring to things like the dock or along steep pathways.
For these areas consider using battery or solar powered lighting fixtures. While they may not be as bright, they may be perfectly suited for this type of application. For other lighting consider using LED fixtures to save on energy. LEDs may have a higher initial cost, but they will typically require less energy and less maintenance over their lifetime, resulting in a net benefit.
Contact Nite Time Décor
The wrong design can take away from the whole cottage experience. If you install the design incorrectly, you could spend hours trying to find a solution by way of trial and error. Cottages are meant for relaxing weekends away. Contact our outdoor lighting experts and have a unique-to-your-cottage landscape lighting design to create the perfect getaway!
Whether you enjoy summer barbeques, entertaining guests by your pool or just relaxing on the deckafter dark, you’ll want an outdoor lighting system that can create just the right ambiance for your specific needs. The outdoor lighting experts at Nite Time Décor Oakville have put together our best patio and deck lighting design ideas to help you make your outdoor living space feel like an extension of your home.
Design Serves Function With Outdoor Lighting
When it comes to creating a lighting design for your patio or deck, it’s always best to think through what exactly you want to do on your deck or patio. What do you need light for? What effect do you want the lighting to create?
How you use your patio and deck is important. Do you entertain guests? Do you host family dinners? Do you just like to sit outside and relax? Do you need lighting to cook by or to illuminate an intimate sitting area or table?
Some aspects of your patio are simply functional, and some features just look nice. Balancing both is important!
Use Outdoor Lighting Accent Your Patio’s Best Features
What structural or architectural aspects of your deck or patio are you most proud of? Why let those details remain hidden after dark? Think back to when you first bought your home. What made you fall in love with it? Was it the textured façade? The pillars? The gazebo? The many levels to the deck?
Highlighting these unique architectural features will help add character and depth to your outdoor lighting design.
When Lighting Your Patio, Consider What’s Around It As Well
When planning a lighting design for your patio or deck, make sure to look at what landscaping elements are nearby. Is there a beautiful garden that would create a warm and inviting ambiance if illuminated? Is there a tree that would serve as a spectacular focal point if string lights were hung from the branches?
Highlighting these elements not only allow you to show off all the hard work you’ve put into landscaping your property, it also adds an additional layer of depth and character to your patio lighting design.
Choose Fixtures That Are As Unique As Your Patio
Once you’ve determined what you need the outdoor lighting to do (and it’s OK if “looks great” is its only function), identified fun architectural elements, task lighting needs as well as safety concerns, now it’s time to really look at fixtures and ambiance! This is where the art comes into your outdoor lighting design.
The small, well-thought-out details will add personality, intimacy, and even a little bling (if that’s what you’re looking for) to your deck or patio! Task lighting, underlighting (think benches, railings or stair treads), and movable fixtures are all small detail elements that can have a big impact on the overall mood and ambiance of your space.
Rope Lights Combine Flexibility And Aesthetics
Rope lights are versatile and with proper installation are weather-proof so you can leave them up all year long. We love these for under small overhangs like steps or the edge of a deck, bench or railing. The trend is to hide the light fixture so a deck offers many grooves and nooks to install rope lighting. LED lights are available in a variety of colours so if you’re having a themed party you can add some sparkle to the patio with these.
A close cousin of rope lights are string lights. These are fun and easy to install, they’re portable, and often fairly affordable for even a one-time use for that special party. You can also get solar-powered string lights so you can place them and forget about them for the whole season (make sure you get waterproof, rated for outdoors, string lights).
String lights are available in a variety of shapes, lengths, and price points so whether you’re looking for something for Halloween (ghosts, jack-o-lanterns) or Thanksgiving (pumpkins maybe) or just romantic, you should be able to find what you’re looking for. We think these are a fun way to brighten your deck without making a years-long commitment.
Mimic Moonlight From Nearby Trees
A popular landscape lighting design feature is to add spotlights high up in a tree so the light filters down through the leaves. This muted light can add a romantic feel to the landscape with light filtering down onto your deck or patio through the waving leaves. This type of light casts a wide path, but doesn’t have to be harsh or glaring. You’re trying to mimic moonlight, not the ambiance of a night-time game at Rogers Centre.
Be Sure To Match The Existing Décor And Aesthetics
Thoughtfully consider what the existing features and aesthetics are and work with them. The result will extend your living space outdoors seamlessly and add value and appeal to your patio or deck.Outside of structural elements that often won’t change much or at all, you can use outdoor lighting to create specific aesthetics or a kind of ambiance with the thoughtful selection of fixtures to create ethereal, natural, or dramatic chic (as examples) effects.
Knowing what type of atmosphere you want and need will definitely influence your choices and ultimately create an effect you’ll love for years to come.
If you’ve decided on dramatic chic, there are a couple of techniques to keep in mind. Under lighting is one method that will create an urban, stylish feel.
To use this technique on your patio, choosecolours to accent your patio—optimally colours you have in your garden. Then, pick the features of your patio that you want to under light. The best options are usually the patio itself, permanent furniture, or even gazebos and ponds. Once you’ve done that, position your Nite Time Décor Oakville fixtures underneath the chosen features so that the entire base is washed in a soft glow.
Under lighting provides added safety as well as aesthetics. By highlighting the bases of fixtures, you’re showing your guests where there are potential trip hazards.
Natural residential patio lighting
If you want your outdoor lighting to look more natural, consider adding a mixture of Tiki lamps and natural fixtures. Tiki lamps are really fun because they add the sense of real flickering flames rather than artificial light. Placed strategically around your yard or patio, they produce gorgeous natural shadows.
Don’t feel like you have to limit yourself to soft white to create a natural look. Using soft green lighting among foliage creates the appearance of the sun or moon bouncing off the leaves. How fun! Additional lights could be subtle ambers to illuminate other natural features of your yard.
Want your patio or deck to have an enchanted magical feel possibly with fairies hiding in the shadows or playing among the foliage? Small pinpricks or lights hidden within foliage (gardens, planters, hanging pots, etc) produce the appearance of a magical gathering within. Use this technique throughout your yard to extend the suspension of disbelief in your enchanted garden paradise.
Lighting Where Feet Tread Creates Subtle Ambiance
A continuing trend in outdoor lighting are fixtures that are low to the ground or recessed flush with a deck or walkway. This light isn’t so strong that guests are blinded, but by hiding the recessed lights among foliage or along the outside edge of stair treads, you create a pop of unexpected light shining all the attention on the texture, colour and shadows, or even something as basic as to highlight the safety aspects of your deck.
Lighting solutions from Nite Time Decor Oakville will beautify and highlight any patio or deck! Create a look that’s as unique as you and your home that you’ll love for years to come! Why not extend your living space outdoors? Contact our outdoor lighting professionalstoday for more information or to book an appointment!