Contemporary Outdoor Landscape Path Lighting

Contemporary path lighting moves away from the traditional looking lamppost with panes of glass and candelabra bulbs. Instead, you can expect to find lights that look like tall, spindly mushrooms, inverted bowls, or flying saucers.

The simplest effect in contemporary lighting involves an upside down bowl, usually black, that functions as a shield to send the lighting down onto the path. This stands atop a thin pole that can be staked into the ground. The bulbs are hidden by the bowl and the whole thing rises perhaps 1 1/2 to 2 feet above the path. Grouped in a slightly irregular pattern, these lamps can look like alien mushrooms springing up on the landscape.

To vary the effect, the supporting pole can be larger at the top where it meets the hood. It can be so wide that the bowl barely overhangs it, or it can be just slightly wider than the rest of the pole. Either way, it tapers down to the width of the rest of the pole. This larger portion can be translucent so that some of the light glows through it.

If the hood is flattened slightly and given a ridge it can look like an upside down dinner plate or a flying saucer. The effect is heightened if the outer ring of the saucer is separated from the inner ring by a medium-sized slit. You can also find the flying saucer look in a less flattened form, looking more like half a sphere with a ring shooting out and perhaps a knob on top.

To continue the space theme, a simple spotlight shaped to looked like a satellite dish can be angled at the path.

For a more industrial look, the hood and pole can come in brushed aluminum or brass that looks like stainless steel. Sturdy supports that connect the hood to a thick pole will complete the look.

For a more industrial look, the hood and pole can come in brushed aluminum or brass that looks like stainless steel. Sturdy supports that connect the hood to a thick pole will complete the look.

For a more complicated look, try a squat cone over a short cylinder with horizontal slits that let some light through. The light coming out the bottom of this lamp will illuminate the path. The light coming out through the slits will show off the beauty of the lamp itself.

For a more complicated look, try a squat cone over a short cylinder with horizontal slits that let some light through. The light coming out the bottom of this lamp will illuminate the path. The light coming out through the slits will show off the beauty of the lamp itself.

The contemporary look shies away from non-metal shades, but you can find a few if you look. A simple black aluminum pole that angles to suspend a white, terra cotta diffuser may provide just the contemporary effect you're looking for.

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