While lighting your balcony can be as simple as buying a string of fairy lights and tying them to the railing, it can also be an artform. The right mixture of lighting can make your balcony the perfect ambiance at any time of day or night. It can help you set a mood, from energizing party vibes to romantic or relaxing. Here are some ways to take your balcony lighting to the next level.
Focal Points vs Diffuse Lighting
Depending on how you’re using your balcony at any given moment, you might need more or less light. More light to see people’s faces or less light to just make sure there are no safety issues. Focal point lighting is most useful when you need a lot of light. It’s where you have one or two major sources of light, such as from a hanging light or a table light. Diffuse light is where you have multiple small sources of light, such as from string light or multiple LED candles. This light is best to make sure every corner of the space has a little bit of light, but not too much.
Don’t choose just focal or just diffuse lighting. You will likely need both at different times. Instead, make a plan to include both kinds of lighting. They can be on together, or you can turn one off when you need to.
Where should you place or hang your lights? Consider whether the light will be above, at, or below eye level. Stronger lights that are above eye level are a great way to provide light to the whole balcony. Or, place them on the ground (consider a large lamp for example) to radiate light upwards without making it feel like day-time.
Lights that are at eye-level should always be softer and dimmer. You avoid hurting people’s eyes or making glare, while still providing some ambiance and low levels of light for safety. If you use string lights that aren’t very bright, you may not want to hang them too high. Their light may not reach all the way down, so you’re missing out on that gentle glow and leaving your balcony in darkness.
It is essential to consider how you can make each type of light safe on your balcony. Here’s a quick guide:
- Real flame: Nothing beats the charm of real candles. However, you need to keep them away from any fabrics, wood or flammable materials on your balcony. You also can’t leave them unattended while lit.
- Electric: Only use lights that are rated for outdoor use. Try to provide them with some protection from the rain and inspect them regularly to make sure there is no damage or exposed wiring.
- Gas: Only use lights that are powered by gas on open balconies with plenty of ventilation. That includes ventilation at foot level, especially for floor lanterns. Hopefully your balcony railing has thin rails that will easily allow gas to pass through.