The front of your home is a canvas. The way you position your lighting impacts how people perceive your property. Properly positioned lighting can highlight the best features of your home. Poorly positioned lighting, on the other hand, can have the opposite effect.

This guide will walk you through some important concepts regarding front of house lighting positions. You’ll discover some best practices that you should implement and easy to avoid lighting mistakes that many homeowners make.

1. Three rules of effective lighting

There are various rules that lighting designers follow when creating a lighting plan for a home. Three important design considerations for outdoor lighting are cohesion, depth, and focal points.

The concept of cohesion refers to the overall impression you want to create. To make your lighting design cohesive, you need to illuminate the background, intermediate areas, and borders. You should avoid large unlit areas around your home, as your eyes naturally overlook the space. That interrupts the experience. 

The next important concept to get to grips with is depth. The front of your home is a three-dimensional environment. You need to place your lighting elements in positions that make the most of your space. You can use high, medium, or low wattage lights with different spreads to help you make the most of the area.

Finally, when determining the front of house lighting positions, consider the focal points of your home. Decide which features you want to draw attention to. The focal points might be unique features or functional parts of your home. For instance, you might want to highlight a unique water feature. Functional elements of your home include seating areas or the entrance to your house.

2. Use uplighting and moonlighting

Uplighting and moonlighting are two ways you can highlight tall landscape features in the front of your home. Uplighting involves installing well or directional lights facing upwards under trees or architectural elements.

Illustration showing differences in up lighting and moon lighting

Moonlighting mimics the effect of the moon spilling onto a property. You can create dappled shadows on the lawn by placing a light on a tree facing down. You can use our CAST Classic Tree Light to create this effect. 

Front house and pathway up lighting example

Moonlighting provides soft illumination over large parts of your property and minimizes dark patches. Ideally, the lighting fixtures should be at least 25 feet high and preferably attached to a tree with a canopy.

3. Use silhouetting, shadowing, and grazing

You can also use uplighting to highlight exterior walls and objects located close to them. There are various ways to utilize uplighting for this purpose, including silhouetting, shadowing, and grazing.

Illustration showing silhouette lighting, shadow lighting and graze lighting

Silhouetting involves casting an even light on an exterior wall from a wide-angle. You can create a bright backdrop for an object by positioning the light between a feature and the wall. A plain, untextured wall will yield the best results for this method. 

Shadowing involves creating patterns on walls by illuminating an object. It’s a nice way to illuminate shrubbery and other objects that are low to the ground. Shadowing is particularly useful for houses with untextured exterior walls or vinyl siding as shadows break the monotony.

Finally, grazing involves using an acutely-angled light against the wall. Most grazing lights are set one foot from the wall, with the fixture tilted some distance from the wall to reduce hot spots. Grazing is especially effective with irregular surfaces such as river stones as it produces interesting shadow patterns.

Grazing light effects on a house

You can use our CAST Craftsman Series Bronze Spot Light, CAST Classic MR-11 Bullet Light, or our CAST Classic MR-16 Bullet Light to achieve any of these effects.

4. Ensure your path lights illuminate downward

The path or paths that cross your property are a natural feature of the front of your home that you will want to illuminate. You can do this and make your property attractive using strategically positioned path lights.


You should place your path lights evenly on both sides of the path. Traditional path lights with domes will direct the lighting downwards, which is important. You don’t want to be blinded by lights when you’re looking where to place your feet. Our CAST Classic Small China Hat Area Path Light has a dome. You can also use directional path lights like our CAST Classic MR-16 Path Light, which has a stem facing down.

5. Don’t leave your wiring exposed

Wiring can pose a fire or electrical hazard if left exposed. Harsh weather conditions can make the exterior coating brittle, while wild animals or pets can chew away at the insulation. In addition, exposed wiring can also cause accidents. To prevent these scenarios from happening, bury your wiring. 

Most reputable lighting designers use tin-coated marine-grade wire. The National Electrical Code recommends encasing wire in a non-metallic conduit made from a material such as PVC and burying it at a depth of 18 inches below the soil surface. If you wish to use a rigid metal conduit, a depth of 6 inches will suffice. 

6. Don’t point lighting fixtures directly at doors or windows

Avoid pointing your outdoor light fixtures directly at doors or windows. Pointing a light at your doors or windows can severely affect visibility. The glare will make it difficult for you to see outside, and the backlighting can prevent you from spotting suspicious objects or figures lurking in darker areas. Instead of pointing light sources directly at doors or windows, we suggest positioning them at an angle. 

Summing Up

Our CAST line of path lights, directional lights, and wash light fixtures allow you to accentuate different features of your home, such as exterior walls, trees, bushes, and more. In this guide, we shared six lighting tips.

When designing your lighting plan, make sure to consider concepts like focal points, cohesion, and depth. You can also use techniques such as moonlighting, up lighting, silhouetting, and more to illuminate your home.