Finally, after 10 years of living in this house we have sorted out the outside lighting. At the start of the year I agreed to work with Original BTC for 12 months and this post for my Wednesday Ad break is part of that collaboration. Original BTC is a British company that also owns Davey Lighting (outdoor lights) and, having bought their products long before I worked with them, I’m happy to share them with you.
When the extension was built we bought three Original BTC bulkhead lights for the kitchen – the industrial style went well with the tin ceiling and you can just see them above – and although they are mostly marketed as outdoor lights, they are also brilliant for kitchens and bathrooms.
A few weeks later we realised we would also need some sort of outside light, but we had reached that stage of the build where we no longer cared what things looked like as long as they were cheap/we could afford them and still pay the builder (watch out for that stage it always creeps in and it’s bad time to be making decisions). So we let him choose. Let’s just say the resulting blue/white glare would not have looked out of place on the side of a factory on an industrial estate possibly with some anti-climb paint alongside it.
So we never switched it on. Over the years we added the outdoor standard lamp (seen above) and a couple of sets of festoon lamps which we wrapped around the trees to make it pretty for drinks in the garden. The main light was used only for late night runs to the washing line in the event of sudden rain or if we needed another log for the fire.
But now we finally have both illumination and atmosphere provided by this ship’s double well glass wall light (we paid for the electrician and he was socially distanced at all times). This double ended ship’s light is made by Davey Lighting the outdoor lighting arm of Original BTC, and has two handblown glass shades (made in Birmingham)and while it was made to be weatherproof – the company was founded as a marine lighting manufacturer and still supplies the boat industry – it also works beautifully inside. See below.
Now if you are going to put lights outside you do need to make sure they are made from proper weatherproof material (especially in this country) and solid brass and copper will age beautifully over time and acquire a lovely patina, but you can, of course, also use aluminium which is a cheaper product and will give a more industrial look.
Charlie Bowles, the director of Original BTC, which bought Davey Lighting, says: “As base materials, brass and copper are not only expensive but crucially, much harder to work than cheaper metals. Producing solid copper or brass lights is labour-intensive and requires highly skilled metalworkers and spinners to achieve the perfect effect. However, there’s no question you get what you pay for – while copper/brass plate can tarnish and peel, solid copper / brass has a richness and elegance that can only be achieved from hand-crafted, solid metals.
“Ships’ lights were designed to withstand extreme weather conditions, making them particularly suited to our inclement weather. Newness is generally not a desirable look for gardens – most homeowners want lights with a lived-in feel, that look like they’ve been part of the property for years.
“So natural materials with interesting patinas such as weathered bronze, copper and brass are the best choices as they’re low maintenance, age well and weather beautifully. As with interior schemes, you’ll want different levels of illumination throughout, whether you’re looking for ambient lighting to highlight an area of interest or task lighting for an outdoor dining room.”
The aim, he says, is to create an atmospheric, inviting exterior, which you can enjoy from indoors and out, throughout the year. And this is a key point; we go to some lengths to light our kitchens and dining rooms and then beyond the windows it’s just a big black hole. A good outside light solves that problem and means if you have that on, you can have a candlelit dinner and still see who you’re talking to.
Since lockdown we have been making much more of an effort to eat at the kitchen table as a family (rather than on laps in front of the telly) and having this light on outside has really made it all much prettier and while that might seem insignificant in the face of the the current world situation, I think creating lovely surroundings and finding comfort therein has become much more important.
What IP rating do I need for outdoor lights?
Lights with a rating of IP44 or IP43 are suitable for many exterior locations if there is no risk of water jets being used for cleaning purposes, direct contact from heavy seas or any risk of being submerged (uplighters installed in the ground for example). Davey Lighting advises that lights with IP44 rating are positioned so that they are not exposed to consistent direct heavy rainfall – they are more suited to sheltered or covered locations. Choose IP54 or higher for areas with more risk of exposure to direct rainfall.