Outdoor lighting provides impact you never knew you needed

By Hollie Deese

You may be taken by the look of a house that’s lit up at night, and yet be unable to put your finger on exactly what you love about it. But when lighting is done well, it controls where the eye is drawn, accentuating the architecture and making a big difference in warmth and appeal.

“That’s what I love about lighting so much — the emotional response from it,” says Pelham McMurry, owner of Light Up Nashville. “You want to drive home after dark and have it not look like a lifeless, stale building. If it’s lit, it’s warming and inviting.”

Light Up Nashville began in 2012 as a holiday lighting company. While hanging Christmas lights, McMurry noticed there was a huge gap in outdoor lighting in general, and with quality fixtures in particular. It was a natural service for him to take on, so his company would no longer be strictly seasonal.

“There’s an artistry in lighting,” he says. “If you put one huge floodlight 25 feet from the house and you just blast the front of the house with light, it’s going to appear one-dimensional. It’s not going to accent the architecture of the home or really control where the eye is drawn.”

The better way is to “uplight” the house almost straight up, practically kissing the facade of the home.

“If there’s brick or stone, it shows that texture, and the little bit of shadowing makes a world of difference,” he says.

Lighting gives homeowners extra outdoor usability too. Back patios, outdoor kitchens, swimming pools and decks — if those areas aren’t lit, they are just not used.

“So many people spend a small fortune on their landscaping, their home and their swimming pools, but if they don’t have a lighting system once the sun goes down, all of it goes away.”

McMurry deals exclusively in low-voltage lighting, which he says allows for more creativity and flexibility while also being safer and less expensive than line voltage.

Plus, he just loves seeing people’s reactions the first time they see their house in a whole new light.

“I’ve had clients break down in front of me,” he says. “The reaction that they have is amazing. I never get tired of it. That, to me, is what it’s all about.”