Subtler lighting options are the new style for outdoor living areas in the home landscape, according to HGTV’s “Going Yard” host Chris Lambton the Statesman Journal reports on June 28. But Chris Wakefield of The Outdoor Lights.com could have told him that a few years back, when he and Mary Palmer Dargan, an Atlanta, Ga. and Cashiers, N.C. landscape architect, began using soft and unusual lighting options for their landscaping and homeowner clients.
Lambton joined with two Los Angeles-based designers to come up with what they feel are the newest, most attractive and safest lighting options, but lets compare their choices to what Wakefield and Dargan have been doing for years.
First, Lambton, Jeff Andrews and Brian Patrick Flynn say that companies are now offering home owners the ability to duplicate their interior lighting fixtures for use outdoors, like chandeliers.
Atlanta’s Wakefield and Dargan Landscape Architects move more towards creating an ambiance outdoors that mimics nature, and which does not create undue stress on the habitats of wildlife, pets and plants in and around the home landscape. So don’t look for them to hang a chandelier.
What Chris Wakefield of The Outdoor Lights.com has done, however, is create his own design in a patio table umbrella, which can provide a unique and soft lighting option at the press of a button. The umbrella lights, which project enough small pinpoints of light to provide guests with needed illumination, are also subtle enough not to distract from conversation. And the lights in them are flattering, rather than garish.
And whereas a chandelier might prove a cumbersome and awkward lighting object to quickly remove during threats of inclement weather, the lights wired and created by Wakefield can be left outdoors, even in winter. However, dismantling the umbrella mentioned is as easy as unhooking one small connection.
Where Flynn and Dargan and Wakefield agree is in the move toward creating ones own lighting fixture for hanging outdoors. Dargan seeks to use items that either have a personal sentimental value to her clients or which fit into the overall theme of the landscape being created. She’s fond of rustic and natural-looking lighting fixtures that blend in unobtrusively with the landscape.
LA designer Jeff Andrews says he favors vintage lights and likes to put them in trees, hiding the wiring in the tree. Chris Wakefield is a pro when it comes to hiring wiring. One recent guest at a home garden tour in Cashiers actually thought Wakefield’s lighting fixture in that landscape had to be solar powered, as it was impossible to tell where the wires were, according to Hugh Dargan of Dargan Landscape Architects.
Lambton uses faux stone blocks which contain LED lights when he wants to illuminate a garden or landscape area without flood lights or porch lights. Wakefield has gone with glass sphere lights, instead, which provide his customers with two perks instead of just one.
The spheres are made of sturdy glass and decorated in colorful designs and available in different sizes. In the daytime they appear as decorative lawn, garden and landscape accessories, which then double at nighttime as a unique and soft lighting source. And they conveniently plug into outdoor electrical outlets, and are weather-proof. Some can even be submerged into ponds and pools.
Year-round lighting is the ultimate goal, which Chris Wakefield and his employees at The Outdoor Lights.com seem to have mastered. And that’s why Mary Palmer and Hugh Dargan choose only Wakefield’s company when they are designing landscapes for their high-end clients. They need the assurance that everything will be done right and to perfection.
The Dargans insist on making sure that their clients’ lights always work, that wiring is never seen, and that when it comes to lighting up an outdoor landscape spring, summer, winter or fall, that their clients aren’t having to try and take lights in or out of their landscape in time for guests. And Wakefield’s service plan makes sure that clients never even have to change their own outdoor light bulbs too.
Flynn, on the other hand, says that “The only type of lighting I’m worry-free about for the outdoors is festival-style string lights.” And isn’t that a shame, when he could have The Outdoor Lights company ensure a totally worry-free lighting experience?
© Radell Smith