There are a couple ways to go with porch lighting: the architecturally accurate route, or the complementary style route.
For older homes, we usually recommend sticking close the original architectural style. Why? When you choose fixtures and accessories that look like they’ve been there since from the beginning, you help maintain the architectural integrity of your house and your neighborhood.
If your tastes are more eclectic or you live in a newer home, you have lots of choices. Warehouse lights look good on nearly any style of architecture. As their name suggests this style originated for commercial use in the late 1800s. Ours are built of durable aluminum to stand up to harsh weather, so they’re a good choice if you live someplace especially windy, rainy, or snowy. Straight-arm wall brackets work well over the garage or another long stretch, as they cast bright, downward-facing pools of light. A curved-arm bracket above the front entrance will shine right on the door, so the handle and lock are easier to see.
Sconces are the most popular outdoor lighting, as they’re often the simplest to wire into wall electrical systems. If you have no other outdoor lighting, invest in a pair of sconces for either side of the front door to cast a soft glow that’s both inviting and reassuring.
If you have a low porch roof or breezeway, consider a flush-mount or semi-flush mount fixture. They won’t overwhelm a shorter space – and you won’t hit your head on them. Ceiling mounts provide diffuse, even light, so you may want to couple them with sconces that provide more focused illumination.
Pendant fixtures look especially elegant outside. They’re ideal for spaces with taller ceilings or overhangs – try a row of them along a porch ceiling, or a pair beside the front door. Keep in mind that chain versions may sway a bit in the wind, so ensure ample clearance.
Lights are just the beginning, though. Think of your home’s front entrance as another room, a place to exercise your design sensibility and greet all who approach.
Even the most functional pieces can complement your home’s architecture and up your style quotient. Doorknobs and locks are, of course, necessary for security, but they can also make a stunning design statement. Likewise, instead of an ordinary mailbox, try one that hearkens back to an age when “post” referred to an actual letter (on actual paper!). House numbers come in an array of materials and fonts, so you can ensure your address is a real attention getter. And don’t forget a door knocker – whether you choose something whimsical or elegant, a knocker adds instant personality to the porch.
Once you’ve got the basics covered, accessorize based on how you like to use your porch. Mount a bottle opener on the wall if you like to entertain al fresco. Incorporate a flagpole holder to signal your patriotism. Heap balls and paddles into a big wire basket for impromptu lawn games. Door mats, boot scrapes, planters – they all contribute to the charm and utility of your porch.