When most homeowners decide to remodel their homes, thoughts of new kitchen countertops or appliances pop into their heads. But with the increasing interest in outdoor living, focusing on lighting up the lawn might be a bright idea for you and your clients. Exterior lighting can add value to a remodeling project, from the pro and homeowner perspective.

Richard Lowrey of Coastal Landscaping Service, Santa Rosa Beach, Fla., a landscaping and lighting design and installation firm, encourages his clients to incorporate outdoor lighting into their landscaping undertakings. That way, he doesn't have to come back and dig up the site at a later date. "Exterior lighting really adds a lot of value -- real and perceived -- to a home," Lowrey says.

Many homes can look unfinished without exterior and landscape lighting, and adding in lighting can tie a home's look together. In-ground, flood, spot, lantern, and even rope lights are used to enhance the great outdoors.

Many of the same finishes that are popular for door and cabinet hardware are cropping up in non-corrosive outdoor adaptations, including copper, bronze, and wrought iron, and art glass is showing up on Arts and Crafts-style fixtures.

With the variety of style and design choices out there, you have to carefully choose what you want to highlight, because "when everything is illuminated, nothing stands out," says Daniel Blitzer, of the American Lighting Association.

Outdoor and landscape lighting work together to accent and brighten up a home's exterior.
Courtesy Sea Gull Lighting Outdoor and landscape lighting work together to accent and brighten up a home's exterior.

Although there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to materials and installation, the pros agree each fixture must be durable for its specific environment. For Lowrey, this means using stainless steel fixtures to withstand Florida's corrosive salt air. Orinda, Calif.-based Steve Lambert, owner of Garden Lights Landscape Development, claims that brass holds up best in the San Francisco Bay area.

Most fixtures won't last a lifetime, however, no matter what they're made of or how they're installed. Most experts stress that exterior lighting components should last between five and 10 years and many landscaper/installers guarantee their work within that time frame.

Down the road, experts predict the entire category will grow in style and technology. "The need for guaranteed lifetime finishes is becoming a big draw," claims Lee Nemeth, global product merchant for The Home Depot's Expo Design center.

What's more, solar and solar/battery hybrid, LED, and fluorescent energy options will come into play as energy prices rise and homeowners squeeze the most out of their lighting dollars. --Stephanie Herzfeld is assistant editor of BUILDING PRODUCTS. This story originally appeared in BUILDING PRODUCTS, a sister magazine of REMODELING.

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