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Front of House Lighting Positions: Do’s and Don’ts

Why House Uplighting Matters

House uplighting can transform the front of your home, making it look spectacular and creating a lasting impression on every passerby. The way you position your lights can highlight the best features of your home, creating a cohesive, well-lit environment.

Quick Tips for Proper House Uplighting:
Highlight focal points: Direct lights at architectural elements or trees to create visual interest.
Avoid dark patches: Ensure even lighting to maintain a welcoming ambiance.
Create depth: Use various lighting levels to add dimension and texture.
Consider safety: Proper lighting deters burglars and guides visitors safely.

Hi, I’m Marco Picano, co-owner of Picano Landscaping. With years of experience in landscape architecture and outdoor lighting, I’ve helped many homeowners in Reading, MA, create beautifully lit exteriors. Let’s explore how you can enhance your home’s curb appeal with expert uplighting techniques.

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Understanding Uplighting and Downlighting

When it comes to illuminating the front of your house, you have two primary techniques to choose from: uplighting and downlighting. Each method offers unique benefits and can dramatically change the appearance of your home.


Uplighting involves placing light fixtures low to the ground and directing the light upwards. This technique is perfect for highlighting architectural features like columns, textured walls, and tall trees. By casting light upwards, you create dramatic shadows and emphasize the height and structure of your home.

  • Architectural Enhancement: Uplighting can accentuate intricate brick patterns, unique window trims, or bold eave designs. Imagine a column of light tracing up the height of a towering column or softly illuminating a textured stone wall.
  • Safety and Security: Well-lit exteriors deter potential intruders by eliminating dark corners. Illuminating paths and entrances also reduces the risk of accidents.
  • Improved Curb Appeal: A well-lit home looks inviting and well-maintained, potentially increasing its market value.


Downlighting is the opposite. Lights are installed high up, often in the eaves of the house, and directed downwards. This method is excellent for general illumination and creating a soft, natural look.

  • Natural Illumination: Downlighting mimics natural light, making it ideal for lighting pathways and driveways. It provides a gentle, even spread of light.
  • Reduced Glare: Since the light is directed downwards, it minimizes glare, making it easier on the eyes for both homeowners and passersby.
  • Weather Protection: Lights installed in the eaves are more protected from the elements, potentially extending their lifespan.

Contrast and Cohesion

Combining both uplighting and downlighting can create a balanced and visually appealing outdoor lighting scheme. This mix adds depth and dimension to your home, making it stand out.

  • Contrast: Use uplighting to create dramatic shadows and highlight specific features. Downlighting can fill in the gaps, ensuring even illumination.
  • Cohesion: A cohesive lighting design illuminates the background, intermediate areas, and borders. Avoid large unlit areas, as they can disrupt the visual flow.

By understanding these techniques, you can make an informed decision on how to light your home effectively. Next, we’ll dive into best practices for uplighting your house.

Best Practices for Uplighting Your House

When it comes to house uplighting, getting the details right can make all the difference. Here are some best practices to ensure your home looks its best.

Fixture Placement

Proper placement is key to effective uplighting. Generally, fixtures should be installed a few feet away from the wall and angled upward at about 30 degrees. This ensures an even spread of light, creating a balanced and harmonious look.

  • Highlight Key Features: Place fixtures below columns, arches, or textured walls to draw attention to these architectural elements.
  • Avoid Direct Glare: Position lights so they do not shine directly into windows or doors, which can cause glare and reduce visibility.


The angle at which you position your uplighting fixtures can drastically affect the outcome.

  • 30-Degree Angle: This is the standard angle for most situations. It allows the light to spread evenly and highlight the features without creating harsh shadows.
  • Adjust as Needed: Depending on the specific feature, you may need to adjust the angle. For instance, a tall tree might require a steeper angle to illuminate its height effectively.


Lumens measure the brightness of a light. The number of lumens you need depends on the area you are illuminating and the effect you want to achieve.

  • Minimal Illumination: For a subtle, inviting glow, use lights with lower lumens (around 100-200 lumens).
  • Entertainment Spaces: For areas like patios or decks where you want more light, go for higher lumens (300-600 lumens).
  • Security Lighting: To enhance safety and deter intruders, opt for even higher lumens (700+ lumens).

Pro Tips

  • Use LED Lights: LED lights are energy-efficient and long-lasting, making them a great choice for uplighting.
  • Timers and Controls: Install timers or wireless controls for convenience and to adjust lighting based on the time of day.
  • Avoid Overlighting: Too much light can wash out features and create an uninviting atmosphere. Aim for a balanced look.

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By following these best practices, you can create a stunning and functional uplighting design for your home. Next, we’ll explore some common mistakes to avoid in outdoor lighting.

Common Mistakes to Avoid in Outdoor Lighting


One of the biggest mistakes in outdoor lighting is overlighting. Too much light can wash out the architectural features you’re trying to highlight, making your home look flat and uninviting.

Example: Imagine a beautiful stone facade that’s completely flooded with light. Instead of showcasing the texture and details, it ends up looking like a bland, bright wall.

Tip: Use a balanced approach. Place your uplights strategically to highlight specific elements like columns, eaves, or textured walls.


Glare is another common issue that can ruin your outdoor lighting. When lights are too bright or poorly positioned, they can create harsh, uncomfortable glare.

Case Study: A homeowner installed bright spotlights aimed directly at their front door. The result? A blinding light that made it impossible to see who was at the door.

Solution: Avoid pointing lights directly at doors or windows. Instead, angle them to create a soft, inviting glow. Research suggests placing fixtures at a 30-degree angle to minimize glare and maximize the beauty of your home.

Exposed Wiring

Exposed wiring is not just unsightly; it can also be dangerous. Harsh weather conditions can make the exterior coating brittle, while wild animals or pets can chew away at the insulation. This can lead to electrical hazards or even fires.

Fact: The National Electrical Code recommends burying wires at least 18 inches below the soil surface to prevent accidents. If using a rigid metal conduit, a depth of 6 inches is sufficient.

Pro Tip: Always use tin-coated marine-grade wire and encase it in a non-metallic conduit like PVC for added protection. This ensures your wiring is safe from weather and animals.

By avoiding these common mistakes, you can ensure that your house uplighting not only looks great but is also safe and functional.

Next, let’s dive into some frequently asked questions about house uplighting.

Frequently Asked Questions about House Uplighting

Where should uplighting be placed on the front of the house?

For optimal effect, uplighting fixtures should be placed a few feet away from the wall, typically 1-3 feet. This distance helps create a balanced spread of light. The fixtures should be angled upward at about a 30-degree angle. This positioning ensures that the light highlights architectural features like columns, window trims, and textured facades without causing glare.

What are the lights called that shine up on your house?

The lights used for this purpose are commonly referred to as uplights. These fixtures are specifically designed to direct light upwards, creating dramatic effects on walls and other vertical surfaces. Uplights often come in various forms, including bullet lights, well lights, and directional lights, each suited for different aspects of your home’s exterior.

How many lumens do I need for uplighting my house?

The number of lumens needed depends on the specific purpose of the uplighting:

  • Minimal Illumination: For subtle, ambient lighting, 100-200 lumens per fixture is usually sufficient.
  • Entertainment Spaces: Areas where you entertain guests might require brighter lighting, around 300-700 lumens per fixture.
  • Security Lighting: For security purposes, brighter lights are recommended. Aim for fixtures that provide 700-1300 lumens to ensure dark corners and entry points are well-lit.

By strategically placing and selecting the right lumens for your uplighting, you can enhance the beauty, safety, and functionality of your home’s exterior.

Next, we’ll explore some common mistakes to avoid in outdoor lighting.


Enhancing the curb appeal of your home with house uplighting is a rewarding project. When done right, it highlights your home’s best features and creates a welcoming atmosphere.

Properly positioned lighting can make your home look stunning at night. For example, one homeowner used uplights to create dramatic shadows on their old oak tree, turning it into a stunning focal point. This simple addition transformed their front yard and made their home stand out in the neighborhood.

Safety is another crucial benefit. Good lighting improves nighttime visibility, making your outdoor space safer and more functional. Homes with security lighting are 50% less likely to be targeted by burglars. By installing motion sensor lights near entry points and using bright, focused lights for driveways, you can eliminate dark spots and deter intruders.

At Picano Landscaping, we believe in the power of DIY landscape lighting to enhance your home’s curb appeal and safety. Our team is here to help you plan and implement the perfect lighting strategy for your home.

Ready to transform your outdoor space? Check out our hardscape services to get started.

By following the tips and best practices outlined in this guide, you can create a stunning and secure environment that you’ll enjoy every evening. Happy lighting!

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