Creative Outdoor Lighting

Danielle French talks about how subtle lighting sets just the right for dining al fresco

Its arrival is the reward of having four seasons. Stepping out from months of darkness to light, fragrant smells from the warming earth are in the air. Light affects my mood, and as it brightens, so do we all. Winter wouldn’t be as difficult to navigate if it wasn’t so dark in the mornings, so dark early in the evenings. And then, by the end of January, things begin to change and a few more minutes of light edge into the days, and before we know it, it’s still light at 5:30 p.m.!

The light inside our space and home is equally important for our state of mind. The first year that I started my business, South Pond Farms, I didn’t have electricity in the barn yet, so I had real candlelight chandeliers. The candles on the tables weren’t bright enough for people to see what was going on. That does seem incredible now that I think about it — but I designed and had 6 metal chandeliers made, each with 6 arms that allowed for a candle inside a glass jar. The candle had to be sizable to give off decent lighting below. At every event, I climbed up on a 14-foot ladder to light the candles for the evening.

That job became tiresome very quickly, and two years later, I made the plunge, brought electricity inside the barn, and replaced the candelabras with real chandeliers. I collected various ones that added an eclectic feeling to the barn. I also added 4 spotlights that pointed up into the ceiling, illuminating the beautiful beams and 1960s structure. I put everything on dimmers so as to be able to keep the lighting soft at night. It really was beautiful.

One thing that I made sure to do myself for every single event right up until the end when I sold the farm was to come in just after sunset and adjust the lighting lower. It made such a difference to the atmosphere. I never got tired of helping to create this evening scene. It took my breath away, candles on the tables and lighting up in the rafters; it was such a lovely, romantic, warm feeling. It was one of those details that you might overlook, but it completely changed the atmosphere and vibe of the event. If the lighting was too bright after dinner, hardly anyone went onto the dance floor. That little adjustment made all the difference.

Here at home, creating this feeling is just as important to my well-being. All my lighting is on dimmers, and I always have candlelight on the table and on my counter for when friends come over, or it’s just me at home in my kitchen cooking. I recently bought smart bulbs for the lights that Shawn Cameron built out of iron and spare boiler parts. I can adjust the glow, control the time and do it from my phone. I love this!

LED lights can be dimmed. Here’s how to do it yourself.

Soft lighting sets a mood, invites conversation and puts people at ease. As the season changes, more and more natural lighting comes inside. It feels like we’ve all shed wintery skin and bask in what nature gives. Patio dinners by candlelight, we have six more months to enjoy it! I’m not wasting any time.

Original image: johnandsamanthabutler

Danielle French
Danielle French

About Danielle French

I founded South Pond Farms in 2008. The property is on the Oak Ridges Moraine in the traditional territory of the Anishinaabe Mississauga. South Pond started as a small food delivery business making fresh prepared meals from ingredients in my garden. Together with my family, we restored the barn, the iconic heritage silo and the land to become a destination for authentic culinary experiences, weddings, celebrations, workshops. Inspired from the farm, I also create a line of culinary products and gifts.

In 2021, I was ready to move away from the farm. As much as I loved the land and the country, it was time to let someone else bring their passion to what we had created. My new home is in Peterborough, Ontario where I’m taking some time to write, contemplate next steps, train my dogs, blog about recipes and interesting explorations and unpack!

Posted on Friday, April 14th, 2023
Tagged: Lighting

Read More

Gather Round – DIY Wreath

Gather Round – DIY Wreath

What better reason to get outside and enjoy your surroundings this season than with a mission to create your own holiday wreath? It’s a great way to welcome guests this busy time of year. And enlisting the help of family and friends makes it an even more pleasurable...

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This
Skip to content