Walkway lighting seems to be the rage for the average house these days.
Did you ever wonder why you see walkway lighting on an average house and not on a more well-to-do house?
Homeowners of more substantial homes use landscape lighting to highlight some of their landscaping and the house – never the walkway.
Using walkway lighting fixtures on the walkway or in the landscape is just a cheap way to copy the right way to do it.
Read on and we will show you what to get and what to stay away from to give your house the best curb appeal.
Never Use Walkway Lighting
Never ever use walkway lighting. The lights used for walkway lighting are similar to those in the photo above.
They produce indirect light.
All they do is make a house look cheap and tacky.
I have been driving all over the place and never have I seen a house with walkway lighting that looks good.
Walkway lighting is merely cheap clutter.
It is just a gimmick to get people to buy something. People are always looking for “stuff” they wrongly will believe will improve curb appeal.
All this lighting does is distract the viewer from looking at the house. It takes your eyes away from the entrance and makes you look at these lights. Why not get pink flamingos instead?
If you’re worried people will fall on your walkway then install a lamp-post but don’t even consider sticking these cheap looking lights into the ground along your walkway.
Also once it rains and the ground freezes and they will be crooked and look even more unsightly.
Please do not cheapen your house with this junk.
Do Use Landscape Lighting
I recommend landscape lighting. Landscape lighting can really add a nice warm touch to a house.
When doing landscape lighting the lights are spread evenly across your landscape and your house.
Different light fixtures are used and vary depending on their purpose.
Landscape lights are direct lighting. The light is directed onto plantings or architecture which creates a nice warm appearance. The goal is to see the effect of lighting not the light itself.
Landscape lighting must be done right to look good. It may be best to hire a professional to do this.
When using outdoor lighting always choose warm light. Some led lighting produces a cold blue light – never use them.
Read more about landscape lighting and how to do it for the best curb appeal.
Lighting Is Important to Have
All houses should have a light at the front door. This is the light you need to have that welcomes visitors by lighting up the entrance. Lighting up your walkway or plants is not the same thing. I see many dark houses that have their landscape lit up and think what is wrong with these people? It is just common sense that the priority should be a light at the front door. If you have a house from the 1950’s then a lamppost would be a nice addition – not substitution.
William Heyen says
I agree. I used a cheaper set of just 5(then added one) lights(20 watts each on my home. Much bigger improvement then just lighting the walkway,.
Good advice! Yes, the “runway lights”, as we often refer to them in the landscape lighting industry – yuck! Avoid any lighting sets you see at the big box stores.
Even within professional landscape lighting, as pictured further down in this article, you want to use those sparingly. As a professional lighting designer and Installer for 23 years now, I always consider path lights as a last resort. First, illuminate the best features of your yard and home with spotlights (uplighting or downlighting / moonlighting). Then consider specialty light fixtures like built in step lights, wall lights, wall wash lights and even those string bistro lights. You’ll get a nice soft over-glow from these areas that will spill over into as lot of your pathways and preclude the use of path lights.
Then once you have those installed, fill in dark areas along important pathways with a few path lights. But chose the right fixture that puts off enough illumination so that you can space them out a ways apart from one another. A good path light will have a spread of 6-8′ away from it’s base. Which means you can space them 18-20′ apart from one another and still have good safe illumination along any pathway.
Another good pro tip: when installing path lights alongside a pathway, stagger the placement. First one on the left side, next one on the right side, etc. This looks much more subtle and less intrusive.
How about almost NO lighting? We have neighbors whose houses are lit up like cruise ships. We’ve had to install blackout shades.
karen ide says
‘Had to laugh out loud at the reference to “lit up like cruise ships”!!!! 😀
Ron Keginski says
If you care about the ability to see stars on a clear night, please read about the “dark sky” movement (https://www.darksky.org/ ) before launching into a mega-lumen light show to impress your neighbors or ego. This probably means you’ll want to avoid up-lighting, sorry.
Besides, how are landscape lights, up-lights, etc. considered historically accurate? I’m shocked that Ken (the author) approves. Per this web site, our gutters and windows and shutters must be perfectly restored, but lighting is allowed to be a modern free-for-all?! Back when that pretty porch (pictured above) was built, you could likely see the Milky Way from a rocking chair on it. I doubt you could see many stars now, with that porch glowing like a Broadway stage. And how about all the neighbors that have to live near that porch? I say it’s obnoxious to intrude on the night, and your neighbors, and it’s a waste of resources and power consumption too — for no reason other than vanity while you sleep.
A strategically-placed lamp post (with an opaque top) is probably the only choice to preserve both the house and the sky.
Ken Roginski says
You are correct that this lighting is 100% not historically correct. Lamp posts are only for 1950s houses. There should be absolutely no plantings around the house except for the corners on homes pre 1915 or so also. I’m just trying to find a happy compromise and the post is focusing on curb appeal not historic preservation.
My old rental next door to my house had evidence of a gas yard light pre 1900. The controls were still there sticking out of the ground. I would take a picture but they were removed by the current owner after I sold it in 2007.
David D Rutter says
I need to back either into or out of my curved driveway in the dark eight times a week in the winter months.
Sounds like I’m quite a pile of shite for not just parking on the highway and hiking into my neighborhood with a flashlight.
Ken Roginski says
Sounds like you need something but it should also look good. I would put up some spotlights that are on a sensor to help when backing out.
Sara Moore says
Ken, You really know how to dive right in to the heart of a problem and come back up dangling the perfect solution. Terrific advice!
Jim light says
So period correct homes built before electricity have no power? Are you using candles for light. I light mine up for security reasons. And it looks good too.
Ken Roginski says
It seems that you did not read the post. I am saying not to use walkways lighting for it makes the house look trashy. If you need additional lighting for safety reasons then add a spot-light or something that is appealing somewhere. You can add a lamp-post if you prefer but they are not appropriate for some house styles and periods. I am not saying not to do it but just be aware that they were popular during the 1950s. Understand?