Lighting Ideas to Improve Building Exteriors

The visual experience of a home can be ideal according to the design in daylight, imagine the same flamboyant design under the night sky. Exterior Facades of a House or building can be lifted to photogenic scenery through lighting solutions that are useful in a dark frame of visual.

External lights are visually appealing and also provide functional advantages as well like Visual aid in the dark and Security purposes.

Houses with proper lighting are inviting in nature and give a warm welcoming feel. The lighting solution provides the effects of light in contrast to shadows and intense visual highlights.

Using lights on exterior facades does not mean to flood it with lights all over; moreover a subtle combination of light play concerning material can be highly appreciated when sober lights contrast highlights of shadow patterns on the material plane.

Principles to Setup Exterior Lights

1. Setup a Focal Frame

The best way to keep your house in a focal frame and welcoming in nature, an individual must Design the light focus to the entryway. “Lights will guide you home”- common saying applies to exterior design as well.

Focal frame of building via lighting

2. Use Functional Beautification

The use of lights should be judicious and effective. Consider a long pathway, add up lights by side of the plantations to create a visual break and eliminate the element of monotony.

Lighting ideas by side of the garden pathways can be highly functional and visually appealing because of the warm green gloss of the plantation in the dark. 

Pathway lighting in Landscaping

3. Highlight the Feature Elements

Most of the exterior facades and spaces just in front of the house feature an element of design that is highly in consideration. These elements can be highlighted though lights below them or lights mounted in themselves only.

Consider a tree in the front lawn or a sculpture, lights focusing on them would be a stunning feature as highlights its details and material.

Material highlight through exterior lights

4. Vary The Choice Making

Designers use feature lights as visual elements and can be overwhelming to use them as general choices. One must consider varying choice of light selection, a variety of lights fixtures can be permutated for design solutions.

Choices like area lights, step lights, spotlights, bollards or post lights, and floodlights are available for choice making.

Variety of exterior Lights

5. Stick to a Scheme

Common mistake opted by users is that they tend to choose a variety of color choices in lights. One must showcase features of a house or landscape through visual aid rather than creating a light-up show.

Choice complementary scheme of light shades should be selected as per design and features.

lighting scheme for house entrance

6. Dramatize the Scenic

Light on exterior facades can be used in such a manner that it highly the architectural and landscaping features. This can be done through up-lightings, it usually highlights and moderates the light shine downwards.

Exterior cladding Light Scenic

Ideas for Lighting Location

Lighting implementation seems obvious for design, yet it is mostly ignored at various locations. A list of various location ideas for external lighting solutions is as follows:

1. Entry way

Front doors with exterior lighting as stated before seem welcoming and do not go unnoticed. They can be mounted, side hung, or fixed as per design.

A walkway with a well-lit scheme leading to the front door is a good idea to adopt with low to the ground lights or light posts.

Entryway_Accent outdoor Lighting

2. Exterior Plain Facades

Plain facades that confront the building’s identity, has to be treated with a lighting solution to create visual balance. Usual application may involve highlighting the material or color scheme of the facade.

Facades with stone textures or A.C.P. as a major feature can be contrasted through ‘V’ lights or spot focus lights.

Exterior Plain Facade Lighting

3. Landscape Units

Landscape spaces are enjoyed in the later evening and mornings, with landscape lights one can manipulate the feel of the spatial arrangement through depths and highlights.

Some of the lights that can be used in gardens are:

  • Post lanterns
  • Bollard units
  • Path lights
  • Well lights
  • Curb lightings
  • Step lighting/ Cove lighting
landscape lighting with waterfall and rocks

4. Porch and patio deck

These are the spaces where a user spends time and enjoys a gathering, adding lighting to provide brighter surroundings can be a vital option. Outdoor fan lights are ideal for conditions for purposes like cooling the space as well as lighting it.

Whereas, Spatial Lighting highlights are effective to create virtual volumes without physical distinction/ barriers.

Patio External Lights creating a virtual Volume

5. External Steps

Movement areas require bright visuals for vital functionality, Steps of level differences or any external staircases are lighted in different ways such as:


Light source is placed such that the vertical portion of the step is illuminated. It can be through cove lights placed in the nosing extension of a tread face.


The light is focused on the sides to illuminate the horizontal plane or the tread of each step. This can be achieved through focus lights and spot illumination.

Lighting used in External Steps Riser area
External Steps threads riser

6. Railing and Boundary Walls

One of the most prominent places to light-up is the boundary wall or semi barrier railing. Lights can be placed in numerous ways such as focusing on the material of the boundary or even defining a pattern through lighting locations.

Lights can be mounted on the wall or concealed as cove light in the coping stone or even on the piers as standalone lights. 

Railing external lights

– Anshul Kulshrehstha