After a long day at the beach, a late dinner is even later than expected on the bay in Beach Haven. Two generations of children set the table under the disappearing sun. As guests arrive to enjoy cocktails, darkness sets in and the outdoor lighting comes on and provides necessary lighting to recognize faces. Clusters of candles create glimmering points on the table, but the passed food and smiles are lit by the soffit down lighting from two stories above. This is a typical evening on LBI where downlighting improves entertaining and extends time outside. In Southern Ocean County, our lighting team strives to create a lighting plan that lights from above the ground. Down lights are designed and installed to mimic the natural appeal of sunlight. This style of lighting feels familiar from our days on the bay and beach. As a design firm, we find inspiration in many aspects of our lives. The sun is one of those driving sources as the original light in our lives each day. It creates shadows at times, shows us the way and provides warmth. Down light fixtures are aimed onto landscapes from trees, evenly spaced in shower ceilings and positioned in pergolas over patios. Here is how we create that space with downlighting.
Safety, Security and Clean-up Lighting
Our type of down lighting at the shore comes from a variety of sources, both 120V and 12V. The wall mounted or soffit mounted down light is completed during initial construction wiring. This common, structure mounted flood light is installed during the building of the home for site safety and security. We upgrade this flood light source to a subtle version with multiple aiming angles to highlight a dining area or set of stairs. This change and upgrade converts a distracting light source into a functional light source. These directional flood lights rarely need to be as bright. Most sites require multiple fixtures in correctly placed locations for a small amount of light with a glare shield or cowl. A focus going to utility first, beauty second and respect for neighbors third.
Tree Down Lighting
Many sites in Southern New Jersey provide medium to large trees to down light from the trunks and branches. This is a beautiful way to light certain species of trees. As a lighting specialist, respect and care for the tree is the emphasis with tree lighting. Some specific sites on the island allow for tree down lighting in a smaller scale, and it is privilege to give this effect to the island homes. Shadows created by the branches highlight the plant material below with contrast. Tree down lights can provide a focal point for a seating area or dining table.
A directional down lighting plan requires less fixtures to light a space. Yet, lighting a space with one fixture or a few fixtures is flat and overly lit. Accent lighting will provide additional lighting for special occasions, improved reading nooks, and better accenting of architectural details. Single light flood lights are great for annoying neighbors. Subtle accent lighting blends down lighting with landscape lighting to create a beautiful, comprehensive design. A pergola mounted downlight can highlight the pergola’s structure, a seating area or a grade change. Shower directional lighting can highlight a rock wall or artwork. A focus on smaller fixtures and balanced design to achieve the lighting goal. The fixture style, shape, and color must fit the design and architectural composition. Accent down lights create focal points in an outdoor oasis at night. Soft light adjusts in brightness to your entertaining style.
Recessed Can Down Lighting
Used alone or in conjunction with other light sources, recessed can lighting is an important part of your lighting plan. A ceiling covered outdoor shower space or a covered dining al fresco area will use recessed can down light fixtures. Dimmable fixtures will tailor the lighting to the space and LED lamps will reduce outages. These inconspicuous fixtures are low profile. Each project will have different finish to blend in with the ceiling finish. The key with recessed cans is to balance their layout so that they are even over a dining table, bar top or shower changing room.
Directional down lights provide some flexibility if you can slow your building or landscape project down to put the light fixtures in the optimal locations. The complexity of working in down lights means that most contractors prefer to skip incorporating some of the directional wall mounted down light fixtures. The wall mounted and structure mounted fixtures require skilled craftsman, coordination with different teams, and foresight. They often push a budget upward, yet they give a desired result of forethought and vision. Recessed can fixtures and accent fixtures are more common ways to down light. Mounting fixtures where the down light should go is never easy. The reward is more time with family outside after the sun is set. If not planning to add them now in your current build project, think to fit them into the future additions of your outdoor space.