Bright ideas for outdoor spaces

Paying as much attention to the lighting of your exteriors as you do for your interiors will make a great impact and grab attention, notes Ruth Dsouza Prabhu.


Lighting is an integral part in the creation of your home. A lot of work and planning goes into setting the theme of your lighting indoors — with each room being evaluated for its use and the placement of furniture before a light shade is selected for it.

When you consider the amount of detailing that goes into lighting the inside of a home, it would be fair to accord the same level of attention to detail to your exteriors as well. You will, of course, need the advice of an expert interior designer to map out your exteriors and decide what best to invest in to make it stand out.

Seema Vikram, a City-based architect practising interior design says that the idea should always be to have cost-friendly options that serve both the purposes of functionality and aesthetics. Wallet-friendly, energy-saving, path or accent lighting such as spotlights, strip lights, and water-feature lighting can transform even the most modest, humble looking home into a beautiful looking one.

The right process, Seema says, would be for the professional to understand the client’s objective with exterior lighting, whether for their house or the apartment. Is it for security purposes or purely for aesthetics? Do you have a particular look in mind? Do you have budget? Or will you need a budget worked out for you? Are you looking for a long-term investment or want a make-shift arrangement for your temporary home. This exercise helps put things in perspective for both the client and the professional. It is essential that realistic expectations are set to cull out any nuances later.

Seema emphasises that the system of enhancing your outdoor home environment reflects your personal style and taste. There are many attractive designs available in the market to suit your budget. Here are some options you can look at for the front of your house 
On the wall: LED/CFL bulk head fittings 

On the ground level: Facade/ focus lighting with LED fittings 
If you have a space in front of the house you can use some LED bollard lights 
Use of 34-m-high post top lantern lights 

For gardens

You can use decorative solar landscape lights. Fairly simple, they need to be placed on sunny spots, and when dusk arrives, they come on automatically. 

LED  bollard is the best option for this.

LED spotlights that may be used on a wall or a tree to accentuate the texture of tree trunk and creates a pleasing glow on foliage.

While the wattage consumed by these lights is important, so is the colour of the lights for the right effect. With the exception of blue tints on evergreens, outdoor lights should remain fairly colourless. Seema recommends lights that provide illumination in a typical incandescent colour range. Anything above that is going to look too blue, and if it bounces off nearby architecture, such as a wall, it looks tacky. 

For barbeques and sit-outs

Wall mounted LED/CFL light fittings 
If you have a roof, you can use suspended LED/CFL lights
Use of LEDs is a very effective energy saving source. It not only conserves power but also lasts much longer than any other form of lighting. Seema recommends that you install timers with the transformers to turn the system off during late night hours. This will further help in saving energy cost.

For your terrace

8W/20W LED or CFL lights on the parapet wall or if you have a lift machine room, you may get some high wattage (35/70W) to light up your whole terrace
Your lighting project will be the outcome of your budgetary and aesthetic framework. As a matter of fact, lighting today is primarily used to enhance a particular surrounding or enhance a specific object and draw attention to it.

A professional, Seema says, will evaluate the area to be lit and encourage the clients to identify one or two areas/ items that they want to highlight; such as a particular wall outside the house, pathway, a tree, a water feature, portion of a lawn / garden or a barbecue system.

Seema concludes by saying, “The idea is to make do with the best you have. Hence, placement and distance of lighting system from the object that needs to be illuminated is critical. The trick is to save considerable amount of money on the project by not having to purchase and install too many or extra fixtures to accomplish the desired effect.”

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