Mad About . . .

Outdoor Lights by Davey Lighting

22nd July 2020
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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.

davey double well glass light

davey double well glass light

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.

Outside panelling and a Davey Box light: a simple but oh so effective courtyard garden by @homeiswherethepackis. Hand crafted at our Birmingham metalworks,

Outside panelling and a Davey Box light in the courtyard garden @homeiswherethepackis.

“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.

Pictured: 7677 Exterior Bracket lights via @mytinyestate

7677 Exterior Bracket lights via @mytinyestate

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.

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  • Elaine Fraser 23rd July 2020 at 11:06 am

    First of all I love outdoor lighting too. But I’m trying to make my garden as wildlife friendly as possible and have been reading about the effect artificial light can have on birds and beasts , insects , moths etc . So I think remembering to not have them on all night or too many in the first place might be a compromise. Candles in lanterns and a fire-pit light might OK .Many of us have outside security lights on and some councils to save money? have installed these awful LED very harsh street lights that are on all night. Star gazing also easier in the dark. Just some eco thoughts – its usually too cold up here to be outside for long in evenings but appreciated you Southerners want to make the most of balmier evenings.

  • Nicola 23rd July 2020 at 1:15 am

    We bought some Davey exterior lights in 2012 when we renovated ( through Australian supplier Dunlin for Oz readers) and I would definitely recommend. We got brass ( and were told they were cast from the same cast as lights on the Titanic and the Savoy) and they have aged beautifully and have given no problems despite being in exposed positions. I would buy them again in a heartbeat.

  • Anji 22nd July 2020 at 10:05 am

    Hi Kate. Amazing to see the effects that good lighting has in a garden. My house is a smaller version of yours and I’m curious about where you store your lawnmower, as I remember you saying before that you don’t have a shed? I’m currently struggling with where to fit everything in the garden so that I still have a decent sized social space.

    • Kate Watson-Smyth 22nd July 2020 at 6:40 pm

      It lives in the cellar of the house which is massively annoying as the stairs down to it are a bit broken! One day we will get a shed! But we are going to get a small one that is low with double doubles – I think technically more of a bike cupboard.

  • Annie 22nd July 2020 at 9:50 am

    Beautiful outside lights! Never thought of looking at Original BTC for outside lights, heading to the website now.

  • Tina 22nd July 2020 at 7:51 am

    Hi Kate great article and THAT BATH – gorgeous! Can you tell me where you purchased your outdoor furniture. Exactly what I am looking for.

    • Kate Morris 22nd July 2020 at 8:01 am

      It is Jonah from made.com

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