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All Lit Up: LED Exterior Downlighting

By House*Tweaking on Oct 25, 2012

Ever since I can remember I’ve always had a weird obsession with peeking in people’s homes at night. Okay, that sounds weird. But it’s not the people I’m looking at. I’m looking at the house. The innards of the house. There’s something about seeing lights on, a TV flickering and pictures on the walls that grabs my attention. When I drive by my favorite local homes at night, I slow down in hopes of catching a glimpse inside. Total stalker. I know.

The weather was so beautiful tonight {I’ll take upper 70′s and sunshine in late October anytime Mother Nature} that I slipped outside to peek into my own house for fun and realized that I’ve totally forgotten to show you the exterior lighting we added to the Underdog. Forgive me. Also, please forgive the aftermath of our new hardscaping. Yes, that is the original screen door lying horizontally propped up against the house and a wheelbarrow to the left of the picture window and a hose reel on top of the brick planter. Junking up the front yard. We’re cool like that. If you look closely, you can see our grassy lawn too!

Our electrician-in-law urged us to go with exterior downlighting installed under the eaves. HH and I hadn’t really thought too much about exterior lighting and, if our EIL hadn’t mentioned downlighting, we probably would have added landscaping up lights instead. We’re so happy that we went with the downlighting! Our EIL placed the recessed lighting so that it washes flat areas of the brick facade. We like that it warms up the brick and gives it a soft glow. That way there’s no annoying bright light shining in through any windows to the interior.

Are  you peeping in my window? Haha! That’s okay. I’ll let you look in mine if you let me look in yours.

You can see in this picture how the lighting is placed closer to the house to illuminate the brick {accent lighting} and then further out from the front door to act as task lighting. The gray heart is covering our house number. Seriously. How does one see a house number that small from the road anyways? We might as well not have one. Which is why we have plans to replace it with larger, more modern numbers down the road. Well, not literally down the road. You know what I mean.

After living with standard incandescent flood lights for only a few months and almost all of them burning out, HH decided to look into replacing them with LED’s. I was leery. Typically, I don’t like LED’s because I associate them with a cold blue light that feels sterile – not warm. HH did some research {the man loves his research} and found a Sylvania 50W 2700K soft white flood light. It’s an LED good for 50,000 hours but gives off that warm glow I love so much. HH tracked a bunch down when they were on closeout a few weeks ago, hitting up several different Lowe’s stores to acquire enough for our house. Even at the sale price, these bad boys weren’t cheap. We paid $39.97 a pop! But they’re guaranteed to last three years or we get a full replacement. Sweet. If you’re interested, this is the newer available version.

The back of the house has downlighting too. And two new patios {!}. We’re replacing the back lights with LED’s as they burn out. We don’t turn on the back lights as frequently. You can see one light is burnt out now and needs replaced.

And because I like peeking in houses at night so much, here’s a shot of mine. Complete with kid lunches on the island in preparation of school tomorrow.

I’ve been wanting to reveal the kitchen backsplash in a true before-and-after post when the kitchen is put back together. But, what the heck!, I’m keeping it real and showing you what it looks like right now. We went with this 2″x12″ subway tile and contrasting epoxy grout in a warm gray. I love subway tile but was afraid that traditional subway tiles would have looked too busy…too many grout lines. {FYI – We’ll be using this same tile but with white grout on the walls in the kid/guest bathroom!}

You also might have noticed that we backsplashed {yes, I just made “backsplash” a verb} sparingly. We tiled up to the hood above the range and only three tiles high the rest of the way. Why didn’t we tile the entire wall? After all, I love me a focal wall tiled all the way to the ceiling. Well, three reasons: 1) It was cheaper not to. 2) It was easier not to. 3) I didn’t want the wall to be a focal wall because you see it from the front door and family room. We did something similar with the backsplash in our previous home because the kitchen, dining room and family room were all open to one another and liked the results so figured we’d go that route again.

HH removed the open shelving to install the backsplash. Once it was down, I decided I didn’t like the previous placement. While it was perfectly fine to reach and use, it was too low visually. Here’s a picture from a few weeks ago to jog your memory.

One reader recommended raising the shelves to incorporate the hood. I looked back through several inspiration photos and discovered that most of them had an open shelf in line with the bottom of the hood. I think putting the top shelves in line with the hood and the bottom shelves in line with the bottom of the wall cabinets is the way to go.

HH really doesn’t want to drill new holes and patch the old ones but I got him on board by saying it will be one of those little things that makes a big difference design-wise. We’ll be reusing the stainless steel brackets but replacing the white MDF shelving boards with reclaimed fence boards. I can’t wait to see the results of this little tweak!

What about you? Are you a legal Peeping Tom like me? Have you added exterior lighting to your house? Are you tweaking your kitchen? Did you notice anything else new that I didn’t mention? ;)

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

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