July 2019: Make Your Outdoor Area Outstanding

Posted by Raelle Bell on Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Issue No. 103 July 2019

Make your outdoor area outstanding.

Progress Lighting-Toll Brothers


Indoor-outdoor living and entertaining is more pupular than ever and can be enjoyed with loads of comfortable and stylish furniture, appliance and lighting options.



No need to rough it.

Creating an inviting, enjoyable and functional outdoor cooking and entertaining space can be as simple as placing comfortable furniture next to a fire pit or installing countertops near an outdoor grill, or it can be as elaborate as having a full-fledged fireplace or a kitchen designed with a sink, stove, refrigerator, and even a smoker. However elaborate your outdoor room is, be sure to include properly layered light to maximize your enjoyment of the space.

Ambient lighting provides a soft wash of general, balanced illumination. In a protected area, install ceiling fixtures or a ceiling fan with a built-in light.

Task lighting should provide sufficient illumination to prepare, cook, and serve food. Install focused sources of light above working areas such as countertops, grills and sinks. Recessed downlights are an excellent choice as they reduce light scattering and provide direct illumination without interfering with the mood.

Accent lighting draws attention to beautiful features and architectural details of the outdoor space. Highlight work and dining areas with wall sconces. Install pendants over an island or bar area to create a welcome gathering spot, and place portable lamps next to furniture for the ultimate comfortable touch.

A lighting professional at an ALA-member showroom can design a plan to make your outdoor living space as functional at night as it is during the day.


Modern Forms



Light up the night right.

Adding the perfect amount of exterior lighting will brighten up a dark landscape, giving a home after-dark curb appeal while also providing safety for visitors and family.

Pathways: Position pathway lights about six to eight feet apart to offer just enough light to see while walking, and if space does not allow that much distance, stagger the lights to avoid a potential “runway effect.”

Walls: Wash the house with lights installed in the soffits of the home’s exterior, or with a mix of down and up lights that spread the light across the entire wall for a balanced look.

Entryways: For sconces placed on either side of the doorway, select fixtures proportioned one quarter or one third the height of the doorway. Place them 66 inches from the floor to the center of the fixture, and six to twelve inches from the door casing. Fixtures placed over the doorway should be one quarter or one third the width of the door frame, and centered six inches above the door. Hanging lights, such as pendants and lanterns, should be one fifth the height of the door and centered six inches above the door.

Landscape: Add a bit of drama and additional curb appeal by lighting trees with ground lights aimed up into the foliage, while making sure the trunk is also bathed in light. Or place lights high in trees and use a cooler light bulb of about 5500 Kelvins to give the effect of real moonlight.

Always select appropriately rated outdoor lighting fixtures and electrical boxes. For more information go online to or visit a nearby ALA-member showroom.

Tech Lighting



Ask a lighting professional.

I’m planning to retrofit the high hats on my 10-foot ceilings with LEDs. I have seen LED lights specifically for 10-foot ceilings, and would like to know if there is something special to look for. They look the same as other lights that do not mention the height of the ceiling. Does the higher ceiling require additional lumens?     -Barbara M.

Today there are many different LED options available for retrofitting existing fixtures, and higher lumen output is one of the characteristics to use for identifying the best option for a 10-foot ceiling. However, there are other variables, such as the beam spread of the light bulb. A family of light bulbs with the same lumen output can provide higher or lower levels of light at a point below the source depending on whether it is a narrow beam or wide beam. Your best course of action would be to take one of your existing light bulbs to an ALA-member lighting showroom and have one of the experts there show you the LED options that are available as replacements for your existing bulbs.

It would be a good strategy to use a higher lumen output than your existing lighting along with a dimmer so that you can lower the light level when the maximum is not needed. If you have an existing dimmer, it is possible that it may not work properly with the replacement LED bulbs. You many need to replace your existing dimmer with one that is compatible with LED lighting. The showroom staff can also help you choose the best dimmer for your room.  

To find ALA-member lighting showrooms in your area, click here or go to



Questions about lighting your home?

Click here to ask an expert.

Find an ALA-member lighting showroom near you. 

Visit ALA online.


American Lighting Association
2050 N. Stemmons Fwy., Unit 100
Dallas, TX  75207

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