As the summer outdoor entertaining season is in full swing and everyone gathers around the fire, you may be noticing that the fire itself may not offer enough ambient light, especially as the flames die down. Or, you may have noticed that your outdoor fireplace doesn’t get the attention it deserves at night, even if no fire is burning. To make your fireside experience even better, here’s how outdoor lighting can accentuate your outdoor fireplace this summer in Vance County, NC.
An outdoor fireplace is a prominent focal point for your outdoor living space. We are naturally drawn to its beautiful flickering light, and not just in summer: warming up beside a roaring fire could well be the only reason to venture outdoors on a cold, dreary winter day - which is a shame, since you are paying for this space. But even if the fire beckons you outside, you don’t want your guests to stumble back to the house in the dark once the flames have died down. But in addition to safety and comfort, outdoor lighting serves an aesthetic purpose.
Here are some great techniques that will make your outdoor fireplace the centerpiece of after-dark outdoor entertaining.
Well lights positioned flush with the ground at the base of the fireplace and pointed directly upward along the wall of the fireplace will create a beautiful play of lights and shadows on the surface, prominently highlighting the texture of the stone. Place one small well light on either side of the fire box; or, if the front of your fireplace features a prominent hearth, you could use the uplighting technique on its sides and other techniques to highlight the face.
If your fireplace is set into a retaining wall, you can carry the same uplighting technique along the wall. Uniform lighting is easy on the eyes, creating a less busy aesthetic.
In most cases, an outdoor fireplace isn’t a true stand-alone feature. It is often attached to a seat wall, or embedded into a taller retaining wall. It may be near your outdoor kitchen (or attached to it), or be situated along one side of a pergola or gazebo. If your outdoor fireplace features a prominent hearth or is set into a retaining wall, downlights positioned under the hearth as well as under the cap stone of the wall will achieve a similar texture-highlighting effect.
The downlighting technique can also use lights embedded on the underside of a fireplace mantel. Several small, soft lights are better in this situation than one or two brighter lights: you want to keep the emphasis on the fire, not on the lighting.
3. Bullet Lighting
If you have landscaping around the fireplace (such as shrubs or trees) you can disguise bullet lights in the vegetation to shine a soft light onto the fireplace. This creates a gorgeous ambient light. Narrow-angle bullet lights can highlight the fireplace only, while wide-angle bullet lights offer more illumination to the fireplace seating area. For best results, use a combination of narrow and wide bullet lights.
Ideally, lighting is installed at the same time as masonry; but if you already have an outdoor fireplace installed, don’t despair. Some of these techniques don’t require any retrofitting into existing masonry, while others do. Either way, the outcome will be well worth the effort.