Today, there are three things that are impacting outdoor lighting trends, taller elevations, the shift from brown-based to grey-based exterior materials and the continued desire for Outdoor Living elements and accessories. Together or separate, these changes are having an impact on outdoor lighting.
For almost ten years now, the height of interior ceilings has been shifting from a longstanding norm of eight-foot to a minimum of nine-foot tall. Many homes and many geographic areas are seeing minimums of ten and even twelve-foot. Homeowners love the expanse this provides. The unintended result of this growth is taller exterior elevations. Because of these increases in the exterior elevation and the commensurate growth of exterior door size and height, the standard, wall-mounted lighting fixtures that flank the doors and garage of a home had grown. Gone are the 8” porch lights of the past. Consumers must seek out taller exterior lighting to compliment the extended expanses outside.
Occurring almost concurrent with the interior ceiling height increases has been a growth in urban infill architecture. Central city lots are not the same as suburban plots. They often were extremely narrow, but also quite deep. The resultant architecture is significantly narrower and usually over two-stories tall. A three-story or four story façade again warrants a taller lighting fixture, but these must also be substantially narrower. For this type installation, seek out narrow and tall lighting.
From Brown to Gray
The dominant color of residential exterior has been beige/brown/tan for an extremely long period of time. Over the last five years, a larger and larger percentage of new homes have been using grey, slate, black and even white. Stones, siding, roofing, trim and windows are all experiencing this shift. Exterior lighting has primarily been some form of bronze. That is shifting now to colors and finishes that work better with the new material palette. Look for more black, variants of grey and even aluminum, stainless and nickel finishes. Each of these will more effectively compliment the new colors.
Keep in mind that there is a fair amount of regionalism in this particular trend. Housing colors in “dessert” areas (Phoenix, Southern California, Nevada, Florida and parts of Texas) where stucco homes are de rigueur will not see this shift. The stucco is naturally beige and roofing must be terra cotta to withstand the elevated temperatures. It is highly unlikely to see the demand for bronze-based finished altering here. Expect continued demand in these specific locations.
Outdoor Living Continues
The trend toward more and more outdoor use of a home shows no signs of stopping. Homeowners want to maximize their living space and extending to the home’s exterior is a natural reaction. There are typically thousands of square feet of living space outside. Why not use it? That space has been filled with kitchen equipment that rivals the inside and seating and tables that delivers the same type of comfort as interior furnishings. Look for lighting to follow this path. Exterior chandeliers continue to grow in popularity. Pendants and linear lighting have recently appeared. Landscape Lighting provided by LED remains a viable way to add interest to these outdoor spaces. Relatively recent additions are battery-operated LED Portable Lamps than can be positioned around the area to add light where people tend to congregate. All of these forms of light are designed to enhance the already inviting outdoor spaces.
It is interesting to note, this is not a regional trend. People in the north are as likely as southerners to equip their homes with these accessories. It is often said that northerners must pack 12 months of outdoor living into four or five months and they do that with gusto! Every outdoor is primed and ready for these products.
A tertiary trend that is slowing gaining foothold is a more contemporary overall design. Initially this started with architect-driven homes and urban infill architecture, but more contemporary or contemporary-leaning residences are appearing. For that reason, an uptick in the demand for modern designs is becoming evident. While small today, it cannot be ignored. More will inevitably be employed in the future.
Outdoor trends in residential exteriors tend to be slow in coming and they typically hold for a longer period of time than interior trends. These shifts have been accelerating for a while now. When they peak, they will hold for a longer period of time. Our love for the outdoor seems inexhaustible.