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Made in Suffolk, The Jim Lawrence Guide to Outdoor Lighting

The team at Jim Lawrence make beautiful items for the home in their workshop in Hadleigh, Suffolk. Here they share their tips on how to create the perfect lighting scheme for summer evenings. Why not pop into their showroom in Hadleigh to pick up a souvenir from your visit to Suffolk?

Summer evenings are now warmer and longer and as time spent in the garden spills over to a later hour, any shortcomings in outdoor lighting become apparent. We hope this guide will help you create the perfect outside space.

There are two distinct types of outdoor lighting: the lighting of doorways, steps and paths, where the fitting is a feature, and the lighting of a garden as an outdoor room, where the look needs to create more atmosphere. Lights can be partially hidden by shrubs and candlelight can play a greater part on a terrace. Add storm or hurricane lamps for that extra bit of ambient mood for a garden party or BBQ and to create a talking point for your guests.

Wall lights are ideal for lighting up drives, paths and porches. By using a line of lights you clearly light the way, whilst enhancing the atmosphere and mood and creating a welcome for your visitors.

We hope the following tips will help you take advantage of the season, adding charm and character to your home.

1. The lights should be rated for outdoor use and fitted by a qualified electrician – they understand the different electrical needs for outdoors and when to use a circuit breaker for example. British made by Suffolk craftsmen, all our outdoor lights are rated IP44 and are therefore British weather proof!

2. Any light fitting by a doorway, especially a main entrance, has a big impact. It should therefore be the best quality fitting you can afford, and should fit its situation in style, finish and proportion (more of which below).

3. You’re lighting a home not a prison, so don’t go for a hugely bright bulb. Remember, a little goes a long way in the dark! Think about the atmosphere you desire.

4. If the light is going to be on a fair bit, it’s well worth paying a few pounds more and fitting a low energy bulb at the outset. Apart from the saving in electricity, it will also save standing on a stepladder in the rain. Our LED bulbs will give approximately 50,000 hours of use, so even if the initial outlay is a little more the savings will more than make up for it.

As regards the key elements of style, finish and proportion, it’s worth bearing the following in mind:

1. Whilst a modern piece in a period house can create a very effective dramatic contrast, this tends not to work as well with exteriors. A classic style not only works with most exteriors, but won’t date. A quality exterior light is an investment piece, so it needs to be something you can live with through several redecorations.

2. The finish should complement the finish of any door furniture. If in doubt, request a sample of the finish to try in situ.

3. Black can look quite hard on an old building, particularly one predating the Georgian era. Consider an unlacquered brass which will tarnish over time to a soft, near black patina, or one of our clay, shaker green or cream paint finishes for more of a gentle, country look.

4. Paint finishes need to be very hard wearing. Even the most hardwearing finishes may rub off a little over time around screwholes or other moving parts, so make sure the base metal is one that you’re happy with and won’t rust. Solid brass for instance will never rust.

5. Proportion is critical. By the right doorway a huge outdoor lantern can be a stunning statement piece. A few metres up the road it won’t look enormous at all and will create great kerb appeal. If you have a large house with a big, solid doorway, why not try something in the 45 to 75cm range? For smallerhouses, a classic ship’s light is always a good look.

So don’t neglect your garden’s atmosphere: for further advice on outdoor lighting please contact us to resolve any issues you may have, and create the perfect outside space.

Once you have created your ideal lighting, you will also be amazed how it changes the space – it will give your garden a totally different perspective and may well surprise you. We manufacture a wide range of outdoor lights, which can be viewed here. Or why not pop into our beautiful Showroom, based in Hadleigh off the A1071, opening times are on our website.

Read the interview with Jim Lawrence about his Suffolk business here.

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