Michael Nash Design, Build & Homes

Saturday, March 31, 2012

The deck is in the details: Let’s talk lighting

It’s the time of year when many of us are thinking of one of the most common and valued remodels, a new deck.  Adding or replacing a deck can be a tremendous enhancement to your home. It can also be a great way to express who you are through style.

There are very simple decks. There are very elaborate decks. Some have a single level; some have several levels. There are also various materials to choose from when building your deck.

However, when building a deck there is one aspect that is often overlooked … until the deck is complete and ready to use. That would be the lighting.

Lighting is an essential detail and it isn’t restricted to your deck, though the deck is a big part of it. It is part of your overall outdoor scheme.

It is also an aspect that needs to be considered from a practical aspect. You will spend time cooking and entertaining with friends and family out on your deck so how well it is illuminated is important.

Lighting falls into two general categories, functional and decorative. It isn’t always an easy balance to achieve. If you focus too much on decorative, you may find it difficult to see as well as you would like for basics like cooking on a barbecue. On the other hand, if you go overboard with functional you may create a bright place that has little ambiance. It could even be annoying if lights are beaming down on people (like a poorly angled halogen light).

The good news is that there is a wide array of lights to choose from including LED, solar, or regular halogen lights. You even have colour options, so there is much to choose from to get a good, coordinated look.

The lighting categories can be broken down in this way:

Functional lighting

There are three types here, 1) general illumination, which doesn’t have to be overly bright or shining into anyone’s eyes, 2) concentrated, which means certain areas may have a light focused on them because it is an area where activities, like barbecuing, take place and 3) safety, often low level illumination around steps and walkways.

Decorative lighting

This type of lighting relates more to mood and style. Here, too, there are three types, 1) landscape, which can mean lighting that highlights areas of a yard (like a tree or bushes) as a way to contrast or complement the deck’s look, 2) colored lighting that can be used to great effect around the deck to bring an accent to areas of the yard or flowers on the deck and, 3) festive, and these may not be up all the time because they are often strings of lights to help brighten a celebration.

Spend some time considering the lighting you want in place to illuminate and accent your new deck. Depending on what you are looking for, it may impact the decisions you make in building your deck since the type of lights you use and how you install them can affect the deck itself.
Michael Nash Design, Build & Homes
Fairfax, Virginia