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Selecting Exterior Lighting

Selecting the right sized outdoor lanterns for your home sometimes poses a challenge.

 Here are some tips for a fit that’s just right:

If you have one light next to your front door:

  •  it should measure about 1/3 the height of the door.
  • the center of the bulb should be about 66” above the threshold of the door.

If you have two lights on either side of your front door:

  • they should measure about 1/4 the height of the door.
  • the center of the bulb should be about 66” above the threshold of the door.

One of the biggest errors made when selecting exterior lanterns is undersizing your  lights.  When you’re shopping for exterior lighting, remember you’re standing only a  few feet away from a sea of lanterns.  Think about the size of your garage door, patio doors, etc.,  these are large scale items typically seen from farther away, so… when in doubt always go larger!  Also, consider the visual weight and design of the fixture.  When sizing a very light colored, mostly glass fixture, you may need to go larger than if you select a dark finished,  mostly metal lantern.

 We have found a great visual guide…click below for:

 Sizing your exterior lighting!

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  • Michelle May 7, 2010, 1:21 pm

    What are your thoughts about where I should hang my lanterns on each side of my garage door? I’d like to put my house numbers under one of the lanterns too.

  • Tami, Creative Lighting Staff May 10, 2010, 4:18 pm

    The garage door lights should follow generally the same rules as your front door, but you may have room to go larger. If you have double doors, the door is very large, so lanterns will have to be scaled to refect their size. If you have single car doors, you’ll scale to those. When you are selecting the lanterns, look for something that will direct some light down to light your house numbers.
    Hope this helps!

  • Michelle May 12, 2010, 3:44 pm

    HI Tami –
    I am in need of updating our outdoor lighting. You have some great points for me to start with but it is so overwhelming when I’m standing in front of all those lights. I’d like to stay on budget but also get the best quality. Do you have any thoughts on this? Do you do house calls?

  • Tami, Creative Lighting Staff May 12, 2010, 4:58 pm

    We’d love to help you out, and yes, it’s extremely overwhelming standing in front of a sea of lighting options! Start by talking with a consultant to help determine the style you like. Bringing in photos of your home’s exterior is always helpful. With some guidance you will quickly be able to eliminate fixtures and focus on those fixtures that will work for your home. You can certainly call us at Creative Lighting to set up house calls in the Twin Cities metro area. Good Luck – Hope to see you soon!

  • Hilary August 25, 2010, 5:31 pm

    I need help….we have exterior lights (one above each of our garage doors–wall mounted) I am looking for something more old worldish though….any ideas or links you can send me would be great!!! They have similar lights on the rear of the house….2 are above a patio door and 2 are next to the service doors. so need something to tie them all together, as well as 2 post mounted at front entry. THANKS!

  • Rob, Creative Lighting Staff August 27, 2010, 8:47 pm

    Hilary, I would be glad to help you with some selections. Why don’t you give me a call at 651.647.0111 x145 and we can discuss your lighting, and I will get your email so I can send you some lighting links.


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  • Stacey October 12, 2010, 8:52 pm

    What are your recommendations for laterns to be mounted above the door? We have a screen porch with a gable facing the street. The ceiling light in the porch doesn’t seem to throw enough light onto the steps in front of the house and outside the porch door. Because it’s a screen porch, there’s nowhere to mount laterns beside the door. Is a latern above a door a complete design disaster? If not, what size should we seek? Or would a post-mounted light be better? Thanks!

  • Stacey October 12, 2010, 8:52 pm

    Sorry for my apparent inability to spell “lantern”!

  • Judy G October 15, 2010, 4:48 pm


    I would be helpful to have a picture of your porch to see what is going on in order to give you the best advice. But yes, a light post is one option that could work. You could also opt. for ground mounted “uplights” that are hidden and shoot light up towards you (and your ceiling) instead of down. Judy

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  • Tami, Creative Lighting Staff October 18, 2010, 3:59 pm

    Placing a lantern above the door is NOT a design disaster. Take a look at what wattage the current fixture takes, what kind of glass it has and how the light comes out of the fixture. Your current wattage may be too low, the glass may be diffusing too much light, or your fixture may by throwing the light in directions you don’t need. If you replace it, take all of the above into condisderation when you reselect. A post light will also be a great way to add additional light in the area. Another option would be to use landscape lighting. Please feel free to give us a call for additional information and/or advice. 651.647.0111

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