Exterior Architectural Lighting

Jan 21, 2022

Exterior Architectural Lighting

Outdoor architectural LED lighting is what brings the “wow factor” to outdoor spaces. Outdoor garden and building lighting is used to draw the eye to certain features through light and shadow. This increases curb appeal, makes buildings look polished and high-end, and inspires an emotional reaction in viewers.

In addition to aesthetic appeal, architectural lighting also adds to the safety and security of your building. Function is an important part of all lighting types. Architectural landscape lighting makes it easier to see walkways and steps for safe, comfortable navigation. 

Let’s explore the many types of architectural lighting, including column lights, stairway lighting, path lights, and feature lighting. 

Column Lighting

How do you light a column? The answer depends on the kind of effect you aim to create. Some techniques will be understated, while others may emphasize the column as a focal point. Of course, no matter what, the lights will also serve a practical purpose, bringing more illumination to the outdoor space.


For a dramatic, formal, and polished look, choose column uplighting. A small fixture is placed at the base of each column, projecting light upwards. This makes the columns appear to glow individually. Compared to wash lighting, uplighting is more precise and even. 

Recessed Column Lights

Recessed column lights, also called soffit lights, are hidden above each column for a soft cast of light downward. The effect is romantic and gentle, rather than regal or stately like the dramatic look of uplighting.

Wash Lighting

Wash lighting is similar to uplighting, except the light is less even and uniform. Fixtures are aimed at the columns from afar, which means the entire structure may not be lit the way it will be with uplighting. The resulting look is a strong glow with less drama than uplighting. 

Outdoor String Lights

For a whimsical mood, wrap string lights around columns. Popular for many event spaces, like wedding venues or other party locations, outdoor string lights create a dreamy, magical look that feels like a fairytale. It is important to choose string lights designed to be used outdoors, so they can withstand the elements while they light up a special night.  

Grand Stair Entrance

When it comes to lighting stairs, the first priority is always safety. Poorly lit stairs can cause stumbles and falls that may result in injury. Lights installed under each stair tread makes it easy to see where each step begins for utmost safety.

Once safety concerns are out of the way, it’s time to consider aesthetics. Stairways, when lit with intention, can create feelings of excitement and awe. 

If your steps have space between them, warm, glowing lights between each step feels sophisticated and romantic.

Stair lighting doesn’t just belong on the ground. Stair railings can also feature small, sleek LEDs for additional soft light. 

Finally, path lights can create a sense of cohesion between pathways and a grand stair entrance while adding extra illumination.

Pathway Lights

Pathway lighting is available in hundreds of styles, which means you can match the fixtures to the style of architecture. 

The most common type of pathway light is a garden light, which is a small post with a built-in lamp. Garden lights range in design from traditional and ornate to contemporary and sleek. 

When you dot pathways with garden lights, not only do you make them safer and easier to navigate at night—you also create a warm, welcoming ambiance that invites people into the outdoor space.

Feature Lighting

Outdoor feature lighting includes any kind of light designed to highlight an architectural feature. This could be a certain garden area, a water feature like a fountain, or even features built into walls.

To draw the eye toward a feature, some commercial outdoor lighting designers will use multiple types of light to create visual emphasis. For example, a water fountain may be lit with both external spotlights and recessed lights within the fountain itself. 

TCP Lighting Solutions

Looking for high quality exterior architectural lighting? TCP offers a broad selection of durable, sleek, and efficient outdoor architectural LED lighting. Outdoor lighting from TCP brings together the cost savings of high energy efficiency with the unbeatable aesthetic appeal of advanced LED technology. The result? Architectural lighting that will wow guests and reduce energy costs.

Ready to get started? Click here to shop lighting from TCP. 

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