Using Outdoor Lighting to Accentuate the 4 Architectural Styles

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Landscape design is all about using plants to create art. Just as art falls into classifications, landscape designs fall into styles, of which there are 4 main architectural styles* : Italian, French, English, and Modern. When the correct architectural lighting design is implemented, these designs aesthetics are accentuated at night. Ensuring the correct lighting fixtures and design techniques are key to guarantee the lighting is benefiting the design, not obstructing it.

The Styles

The 4 main design styles each target certain design aspects :

  • Italian: It’s all about that ARCH
  • French: It’s all about that ROOF
  • English: It’s all about that ENTRANCE
  • Modern: It’s all about those LINES


Arches are prominent all over Italy, Roman architecture is filled with aqueducts. Whether the house itself has arched roof lines, or the garden has arched trellis’ or pathways – arches are king.

When trellis’ are used for climbing Ivy or as a decorative piece over a pathway it is key to use a fixture that will be able to be hidden, or nestled, right into the Ivy. Even though small, the correct placement, wattage, and style will create a wonderful glow through and over the Ivy, even in its infancy the Ivy will be shown in its best light. Fixtures like Auroras’ Cyclops are great in this application – they are tiny, easy to hide, and can be completely customized to be built exactly how the lighting designer specs.

Dugas stonework logo-1When archways are built into the home itself, the awe and amazement those arches create is magnified at night, with the correct usage of lighting, of course. For the grandest appearance, up lighting is the way to go! Light coming up from the bottom creates a dramatic, almost haunting, effect. Not many lighting designers have the ability to core fixtures into the paver, or sidewalk material, however those like Light It Right, who have the experience and correct tools are able to accentuate these areas. Large fixtures are not always the way to go, depending on the size of the arch and the area smaller fixtures, cored, will create that dramatic effect, with minimal foot print.


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Ahh, the French – always grand and luxurious. When you think of France you think Chateaus and those dramatic roof lines. When landscape designers are designing in the French style, roof lines and porticos are tied almost seamlessly into the landscape – almost like there is no end or beginning for either.

When looking at the gardens at Versailles, the Louvre, and the Tuileries Garden statues are abundant, grand fountains pull you in, and numerous gravel labyrinths will turn you around. Of course for residential design the scale is much smaller, however by no means less grand. Statues create a unique lighting opportunity – depending on where the statue is locate it can be down lit, up lit, or even lit from within.Fountain w Logo

Fountains – now these are fun for lighting designers! There is so much that can be done with lighting to make a fountain pop and look just as grand as ones in Paris they are modeled after (or brought in from). Lighting can be placed at the pedestal and illuminate the basin from the bottom, or if it is a circular fountain, lights can be placed evenly spaced around the entire fountain to highlight any intricate detail that may be along the side. The greatest WOW for fountains is lighting installed in the water itself – at night a lovely glow comes from with in and creates the dream like feel that walking through French towns creates.

Labyrinths – no one does these better than the French, so why not immolate them. Walking through the Gardens of Versailles is like entering a different dream at every turn, and it literally is, each area is dedicated and designed differently. Labyrinths are unique and rare to start, and even more so here in the US, so why not use a unique and different fixture along these magical, wondering gravel walkways? Bollards provide that unique look and feel these areas require – they are path lights, however not typical path lights. The style bollard Light It Right implores is not your Mother’s bollard either – these are custom designed bollards that create art on the ground. Nightscaping Bollards look like sculpted art during the day – no bulky black pedestal here – but at night art comes to life!




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Brawner Main EntryJust as lovely as an English Rose! English country homes have some of the grandest entries, just look at Highclere Castle ( home of Downton Abbey) and Buckingham Palace. Imagine your arrival home includes a long drive up and fully landscaped drive to your front entry surrounded by soft and subtle landscape including Boxwoods surrounding each side of the front door. When designers are working to create a lovely English garden, the entrance is the focal point – it is all about welcoming your guests to your home. Lighting is a key part of this, how can one welcome their guests when their guests cannot see where they are going? Lighting the along the drive up the from will usher your guests exactly where they need to go. Using soft wash lighting and accent lighting along the free flowing landscape will keep in the English theme of less structure. The wash style lighting will create a softer glow, whereas spot lighting will punch light more into one area, rather than allowing it to spread out. The lighting should allow the flowering plants, boxwoods, and other greenery speak for themselves, and not overpower them with shadows.


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Just like in anything else considered Modern – the Lines are everything! Along with keeping to the crisp line styles, modern ties the personality or usage of the owners, more than any of the others. The style bends to the user, not the other way. Technology is highly integrated with systems like Lutron, Savant, and Control 4. When working with a professional lighting designer they will know to zone out the lighting system to be operational on any of the aforementioned control systems.

Outdoor living is king – more and more people are taking the inside outside – full kitchens are built, outside, living rooms, outside, and homeowners are spending an increased amount of time outside than inside. With the sergeancy of outdoor living, landscape design and lighting has been forced to react and make the landscape able to withstand more usage. Lighting products have become more “rough and tumble” to be able to withstand a hit from a football, or be clobbered by a lawn mower. Lighting specification is number 1 within the modern landscape design style and process – knowing the intend use for every area will determine the proper lighting product for that area. Along a pathway – will any one be really using it, will an area light be a trip hazard, if so perhaps a low profile fixture, like a Sterling Riley, or ClaroLux Fasano are the way to go. Does the owner like to sit out in the arbor at night and enjoy looking over a lake or pool – arbor lighting should be added to increase the enjoyment of that area.


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Landscape design is an intricate art form that requires a designer to take aesthetics, function, and use all into account to create a clients dream property. There are many different styles a designer will implore: Italian, French, English, and Modern are just broad categories used to categorize a look and feel. Architectural and landscape lighting may not have specific design styles, however with correct techniques and fixtures in place, lighting highlights and adds dimension to a landscape plan that would normally plunge into the darkness of the night.

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*4 Architectural Design Styles by Rachel Gibbs, Lanson B Jones Houston, TX


Using Outdoor Lighting to Accentuate the 4 Architectural Styles