front porch with pendant entry light, all about entry lights
Photo: Karyn Millet/Lee Ann Thornton interiors

Welcome Light

Drive down any residential street, and we'd bet your eye is instantly drawn to the house with the inviting, well-lit front door. Done right, exterior entry lighting makes the most of what you've got, complementing your home's architecture, increasing security, and helping guests navigate their way to the front landing.

That said, it can be a real challenge to select the perfect fixture. Just stroll down the lighting aisle of any home store, and it's easy to be overwhelmed by the countless styles, finishes, bells and whistles—and that's before you look online.

Start by evaluating your space to determine the type of fixture (or fixtures) that best fits it, whether wall-mount, ceiling-mount, or, in very large entries, a combination of the two. In every case, the overall goal is to cast a wide pool of light that illuminates the entry, banishes dark corners, and casts a warm glow that's easy on the eyes, says San Francisco-based lighting designer Jody Pritchard. We'll explain how to determine the correct size, placement, style, and finish of your front-door lighting. Follow these steps to make your house the one that says "welcome home."

Shown: A pendant that casts a wide pool of light provides primary illumination. Side lanterns as secondary light sources need not adhere to design-math rules. Medium Federal sconces, about $460 each;

Similar to shown: Livex Lighting Mansfield 2-Light Hanging Lantern, about $260;

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