Jan 10, 2022

The front of your home sets the tone for your entire property, and outdoor lighting has the power to make a huge impact. Whether you opt for recessed ground lights, security lights, spot lights, or wall lights, the lighting you choose to install on the exterior of your home can affect how your property is perceived. Beyond the type of lights you choose, homeowners must also consider the position of the lights being installed. If positioned properly, outdoor lighting has the power to completely transform the aesthetic of the front of your home, creating a welcome and inviting atmosphere. On the flip side, poorly positioned lighting can have the opposite effect, which is why the placement of your lights is so important. 

The Rules of Effective Outdoor Lighting


As we see it, there are three main rules of effective outdoor lighting relating to cohesion, depth of lighting, and focal points. First, when implementing any new design, whether on the exterior or interior of your home, you’ll want to make sure it’s cohesive. Consider the overall impression you want your front of house lighting to create, as well as the existing design elements of your home’s exterior. To achieve a cohesive lighting effect, you’ll generally want to illuminate the borders, intermediate areas, and background of your front yard. Further, the depth of your outdoor lighting must also be considered. Given that homes are three-dimensional structures, you may wish to install lights of different wattages to cover more ground. Finally, when choosing the ideal front of house lighting positions for your property, it’s worth thinking about which focal points of your home you’d like to highlight. There can be multiple focal points ranging from decorative, like a water feature or tree, to functional, such as a path or driveway. Ultimately, the best front of house lighting positions will vary from property to property, so as a homeowner, it’s your job to identify the ideal spots to install outdoor lighting so that it presents your house in a flattering light. Below, we’ve compiled a list of common front of house lighting positions to inspire you. 


 Installing lights along a path or walkway has the potential to boost curbside appeal owing to the inviting atmosphere they create.

One of the most popular front of house lighting positions is along pathways or walkways. Installing lights along a path or walkway not only makes walking around your home in the dark safer by preventing accidents but has the potential to boost curbside appeal owing to the inviting atmosphere they create. When using pathway lighting, it’s important to install them correctly to avoid them giving off glare. (LED lights of any kind also come with the added benefits of burning cool, being durable, and consuming 75 percent less energy than other kinds of bulbs.) Path lights with dome shades are a great option as they direct light downwards, preventing them from blinding the person walking while simultaneously lighting up the path where you need it the most, around your feet. If you choose dome bulbs, aim to install each fixture roughly 14 inches above the ground to create a warm, inviting glow. Another tip for positioning pathway lights is to place them along the edges of the path. To make your walkway as safe as possible, it’s recommended that homeowners install path light fixtures along both edges of the walkway, roughly one foot apart. 

String Lights

If you’re after a trendy form of outdoor lighting, look no further than string lights. Providing low-intensity illumination, string lights are typically decorative. They are often considered a type of accent light, used to achieve a certain ambiance or atmosphere. Especially desirable for entertaining, string lights can be hung wherever you like, from the eaves of a home or even between the posts of a front porch or gazebo. With all kinds of string lights on the market today, we recommend looking for ones that are specifically made to be used outdoors. Ideally, string lights should be waterproof and rechargeable. Some are even solar-powered, which can help eliminate the need for running bulky extension cords and cables through your front or backyard. 


Do you have steps leading up to the front of your home? Then you may want to consider positioning some outdoor lights along or within the staircase. With any kind of step or staircase lighting, the key is finding the right type of light and positioning it to avoid the light shining in all directions, including upwards into the person’s eyes. Walking up or down stairs already puts a person at an increased risk of tripping and falling, so it’s important that the staircase lights you install decrease rather than increase the odds of this happening. Common options for staircase lights range from path lighting (mentioned above), where lights are installed on either side of the staircase rather than on the steps themselves, to hardscape lighting, where wall lights are installed on the walls that flank either side of the staircase. Downlighting or moonlighting is another staircase lighting position. Downlighting and moonlighting are both known for the soft, natural glow they give off. Rather than placing light fixtures directly on the steps or along a staircase, lights would be positioned on nearby trees that are at least 25 feet high, with the beams cast downwards towards the staircase. Should you choose to utilize this method, at least two fixtures must be installed per tree for the lighting to be effective. Finally, tread lighting is another lighting option for outdoor staircases. Tread lighting involves the light fixtures (usually strip lights, small step lights, or slim hardscape lights) being placed underneath each step. This technique creates a bright, modern effect that makes it seem as if each step is floating. Not only does tread lighting ensure the light is focused on the steps, but it also makes for an eye-catching design aesthetic. 


Illuminating your driveway is another front of house lighting position homeowners can play with. Similar to path lighting, driveway lights provide additional safety and security, helping your family members navigate the driveway in the dark while also allowing homeowners to see who is entering their property. Given the large size of driveways, you may be tempted to install tons of lights along the perimeter. However, to avoid your driveway looking like an airport runway, we recommend installing fewer lights in strategic places. Floodlights, known for their brightness and ability to light up large areas, are ideal if the main purpose of your driveway lighting is safety and security. There are even floodlights that have motion detection. Downlights are another option if you have trees near your driveway. Similar to how downlights work for staircases, they can be positioned in tall trees, with beams directed downwards so the light is diffused across the surface of your driveway. Downlights are a great option if you wish to create a softer, more natural glow on your driveway. Pillars or post lights may also be used to illuminate driveways. These can be stationed at the end of the driveway to both light up the area, as well as create a dramatic entrance to your home.


One final front of house lighting position that homeowners may wish to explore is illuminating a tree, shrub, or other decorative feature on their property. The most common way of illuminating trees is by installing uplights. Uplights should be placed away from the base of the tree and angled upwards to illuminate the branches and leaves, rather than the lawn or trunk. Ideally, you’ll want to conceal the fixture so that the focus is entirely on the tree rather than the light itself. Though homeowners can choose uplights of all different brightness levels, softer, subtler lights are generally recommended for trees, as their purpose is to highlight the beauty of the tree and not to provide safety or security. Although it can be difficult to strategically position uplights near the trees in your yard, once you’ve got it right, they can create a major impact. 

Tips for Front of House Lighting

Now that you’ve learned about some of the most optimal front of house lighting positions, we must discuss a few positions to be avoided at all costs. From positioning lights at doors and windows to angling path lights upwards, check out a few tips for front of house lighting. 

  • Avoid positioning lights directly at doors or windows: Though you might think that installing lights to face your front door or windows will help provide greater visibility, it can actually do the opposite. Pointing lights directly at a door or window can create a blinding glare, making it especially difficult for homeowners to see outside at night.
  • Always angle path lights downwards: Illuminating the walkway from the road or driveway to your front door is a popular outdoor lighting option among homeowners. However, there is a right way and a wrong way to install path lights. Path lights should always be illuminated downwards, as otherwise, they can cause someone to be blinded by the lights if they look down at their feet while walking along the path. Look out for path lights that have a dome or a stem facing down.  
  • Never leave wiring exposed: This probably goes without saying, but exposed wiring can pose a serious fire or electrical hazard, so for the safety of everyone involved, it’s important to never leave wiring exposed. Even if you think your wiring is insulated and will be fine, the reality is that harsh weather conditions can make the exterior coating brittle, causing it to crack. Another situation that can arise is when wild animals or pets chew away at the insulation. To avoid both of these scenarios, always bury your wiring, ideally at a depth of 18 inches below the soil surface.

Install Front of House Lighting At Your Atlanta Home Today

As you can see, there are all kinds of front of house lighting positions available to homeowners. Whether you wish to showcase a pathway, towering tree, driveway, or staircase, there are plenty of functional and dramatic positions to choose from. If you’re ready to install new lights on your Atlanta home or are still unsure of the best lighting positions for your home and wish to get a professional’s opinion, you’ve come to the right place. Abulous Lighting is one of the leading light installation companies in Atlanta, Georgia. Our specialty is quality, cost-effective custom lighting designs and we are experts in the art of outdoor lighting installation. Not only can we provide our professional opinion as to the best lighting positions for your home, but if you choose to move forward with your front of house lighting installation, we will make sure your landscaping project is executed to perfection.

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