This article comes from The Spruce.
Christmas lights during the holidays are a wonderful excuse to showcase the architectural features of your home. Strings of lights and other outdoor holiday decorations let you highlight the details you love most. With imagination, you can also transform your house into something exciting and new. The trick? Choose a focal point, limit your colors, and go easy on lights that flicker and blink.
Blinking lights and holiday glitter are like shouting. Holidays can bring out the best and worst in people, so here are some suggestions for spotlighting the better angels of our nature, highlighting humankind’s very best — the natural beauty of residential architecture.
Bah humbug to flashing lights and holiday glitz. Natural beauty doesn’t need such shouting — architectural detail can speak for itself.
So, how can you showcase the architecture of your house? Outline simplicity with simple lights tucked under an overhanging eave, allowing the architectural detail to glow itself. Simple wreaths, lighted and symmetrical, complement the order and symmetry of this home’s facade — and probably say something about the people who live inside. The mixed geometry of circles on flat surfaces and garland swirls on front porch columns make these simple decorations interesting.
It’s easy to attach strings of lights to straight edges, so outlining the roof is a typical application of exterior lights. What else could you do to make your display a little less geometric? Do you want people to be looking at your entire roof or do you want them to focus on the dormer?
Where you put the lights is where people will look.
Maybe it was when Elvis Presley’s Blue Christmas became one of the top 10 sad Christmas songs. Or maybe it became popular from energy conscientiousness — for many people, blue screams LED energy efficiency. Even if the lights are energy hogs, blue is cool.
Realize these things, though, before you take this cool plunge:
Accentuate your home’s details with strategically placed outdoor spotlights and floodlights. Realizing that a total view from side to side is 180 degrees, a spotlight will illuminate about 45 degrees in a narrower band than a floodlight’s 120 degrees. Both kinds of lights are sold at big-box stores like The Home Depot, but if you’re thinking of using them for the holidays, make sure you can turn off the motion detector that is often attached.
Shine a light onto what you love best about your house. You may have a rustically carved front door, a massive brick chimney, or fancy columns or pillars that display a regal beauty. Let it shine. Take some tips from the pros who lit the Washington Monument: 1) focus on the corners and 2) light from the top down. Exterior lighting can be permanent or temporarily placed using outdoor extension cords.
Beautiful white lights illuminate every detail of this suburban home. The red “Merry Christmas” atop the garage is nicely balanced with the colorful strands of tree lights. But here’s a question — are the words necessary? Don’t the lights themselves speak volumes without the writing on the roof?
The history of electric Christmas tree lights is fascinating. Before the 19th century invention of the electric light, people used candles to illuminate and decorate their houses — and what a fire hazard that would be!
But what if you displayed electric lights as if they were candles? Where would they go? How many? If you live in an older home, think about how past residents may have decorated it for the holidays. This little cabin would have been either charming or in a ball of flames!
Most holiday decorations are in the front of a house — the facade, the front yard, the entrance. Christmas lights become a proclamation to the people who pass by. Remember that you can broadcast a hearty “Merry Christmas” or a “Look at Me” message.
Sometimes it’s not even your house that you want to accentuate. The landscaping — or landscape architecture — is also part of your property. Reflecting pools and natural ponds can be used reflectively. Lighting palm trees is just fun.
Putting up Christmas lights makes the installer a do-it-yourself (DIY) lighting designer. If you’re afraid to climb up to the second floor to put up the lights, a different approach might be better than a total focus on the first story. Symmetry and proportion are Classical aspects of design, dating back to ancient Rome. For people living in the Western world, this type of design is felt to be beautiful. Lopsided lighting breaks the beauty.
When everything is working, your holiday lights should display a certain symmetry of your home. Lighting can be tricky. If you’re afraid of heights, try floodlights that can illuminate the high places you can’t reach. Take the time to think of solutions outside the box.
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