Your lighting doesn’t need to look like Las Vegas but from this city can come some valuable lighting inspiration

Your lighting doesn’t need to look like Las Vegas but from this city can come some valuable lighting inspiration

By Mike Gambino

Last week I spent part of the week at the Lightfair international trade show in Las Vegas Nevada. One of my favorite things about visiting this city is experiencing what it looks like at night. At dusk, the lights turn on and the city comes alive. Las Vegas is a city that has architectural lighting done with exploding colors. It seems to be as bright at night as it is during the day.  Although this type of lighting may not be suitable for residential properties, it sure does get the attention of visitors and sightseers alike which is important to attract patrons . From glowing arches and colorful fountains to buildings draped in an artistic design, Properties around the strip and downtown are using lighting to stand out from the rest. Architectural lighting is what illuminates commercial buildings with color and style. It is not something designers just slap together; it is thought out and arranged in specific patterns to create the desired effect.

las vegas nightLighting can be expensive, and a professional not only wants the outside of a building to look good, but they work to fit it in a budget while still keeping the energy bill down. Lights can make a huge impact on your building and create positive exposure for your location and business. With a little study, planning, and working with a qualified designer, you can add architectural and garden lighting to a commercial or residential building without breaking the budget or overwhelming the architecture.

I like to stay at the Mirage resort because I think they not only have the best landscaping of any property in Las Vegas hands down with their mature Palm and subtropical specimen plantings, but also the best landscape lighting at night when the sun goes down. It truly is a sight to see, an oasis in the desert if you will. The centerpiece of the property is the live exploding volcano which “erupts” every 30 minutes after sundown to create an amazing light and fire show which catches the attention of passers buy and those who are aware  of it and stand around faithfully and wait for the show to begin.


Before having any lights installed, you are going to have to make some design decisions. I love lighting that screams for attention, but it doesn’t work for every residence or building. Decide on what you want your building or home’s architecture to “feel” like. I know that seems silly, but subtle lights around building corners and landscaping can give the feeling of tranquility and safety. Bright lights that are filled with colors might signify action and adventure but usually not suitable for the most but extreme situations or conditions. Most need lighting to keep the outdoors illuminated while people are on site that will help employees and visitors feel comfortable and safe.


We would all love to add as many lights and accessories as we envision, but sometimes the final decision is left to the budget. Choose what lights are necessary first. Depending on what the property is primarily used for, you might need to focus on these tasks primarily and then build from there. Once you have figured out the necessary areas, you can then begin adding extra lights to darker areas or to bring visibility and interest to your property. I know for most properties at the very minimum, having walkways , steps and changes in grade or potentially dangerous areas at night effectively illuminated is important, but adding lights for aesthetics is equally important and is an added bonus if the budget allows for it.

Lay it Out

Once you have figured out the budget and type of lighting  you want, it is time to have the system mocked up and working so it can be observed and evaluated. This will help both designer and owner  to recognize areas where lighting is needed most, typically doors and destination and focal points will need the brightest lighting.  Lights are arranged to cover all darkened areas of the property creatively as not to fully blanket the area so it is aesthetically unpleasing. Then other fixtures and lamps can be used to increase curb appeal and add that little extra something that will set the property off from all others and give it a look of its own which is very special.

Lighting serves multiple purposes. Some are used to prevent break-ins, while others help guide people to the door and keep the area safely illuminated. Then there are the lights which provide pure aesthetic value and beauty to the property. For buildings that are open at night, adding bright architectural lights can helps direct customers your way. Lighting can do everything to make a commercial or residential building stand out and look alive.

Facebook-iceThis landscape lighting blog is published by Mike Gambino of Gambino landscape lighting inc. all rights reserved. Mike is a professional landscape lighting system designer/ builder and has been designing, installing and maintaining landscape lighting systems for more than 20 years. Mike resides in the Los Angeles area with his wife and 2 sons. To visit his website go to . To inquire about hiring Mike please click here .

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