Shedding some light on string & coach light policies

Outdoor lighting sets the stage for front porch welcomes and backyard gatherings. At the end of the day, alfresco accent lighting should preserve the darkness of the night sky (as much as possible) while also providing needed illumination for safety and aesthetics. So as we settle in to extended summer nights, now is the time to step outside and double check that your exterior lights align with the Eastmark Design Guidelines.

String lights (AKA bistro, café, festival, or party lights) under the evening skies are magical, but don’t forget you need approval from the Eastmark Design Review Committee before you install the outdoor strands. Even though the string lights are in your own backyard, their illumination and location can also affect your neighbors.

There are also guidelines and required approvals when it comes to exterior wall-mounted lights (i.e., coach lights). Since they’re visible to all those who pass by your home, it’s important these lights align with the desired look of the community.

Here are a few easy steps to help make sure your exterior lights follow the guidelines.

String lights

When it comes to string lights, check section 6.13 (pg. 116) of the Eastmark Design Guidelines. You’ll find everything from the number of support poles allowed to the max strand length to the type and brightness of bulbs permitted. Take note of a few key guidelines:

  • String lights are a great accent under a covered patio or in a small area of your back yard (front yard is prohibited) but should not be used as a main source of light.
  • String lights (including support poles or brackets) must be located within 15 feet of the main house, and a minimum of 5 feet away from any property line, fence, or yard wall. String lights should not be attached directly to a property wall or fence.
  • String lights cannot be mounted higher than 10 feet above the ground or the bottom of the lowest single-story roof eave of your house, whichever is lower. They also cannot be mounted lower than 7 feet above the ground. In other words, they should not have a vertical or angled orientation.
  • All strands of string lights need to be pulled taut, fastened tightly and be relatively straight—no swags or drooping.

Coach lights

Exterior coach lights come with parameters as well. Take a scroll through sections 6.4 and 6.7 (pp. 111-112) of the Eastmark Design Guidelines for a rundown of the required colors, styles, and bulb brightness for these decorative lights, that include:

  • Outdoor bulbs in exterior coach lights need to be a warm white color. Colored lights are not permitted.
  • Bulb brightness should not be greater than 450 initial lumens (the equivalent of a 40-watt incandescent bulb). Bulbs that are 200 lumens are preferred (the equivalent of a 25-watt incandescent bulb).
  • Coach light fixtures should match the authentic architectural style of your home. For example, a home in a Spanish architectural style should use a Spanish-style light fixture. The fixture color needs to be black, dark bronze, dark brown, or similar, and use a frosted, heavy-seeded, or heavy-textured glass to minimize the glare of the bulb.

Before you change your lighting

If you’re making any changes to your coach lights or adding string lights to your backyard, you’ll want to submit a design review application and stay tuned for official approval or further feedback.

Need clarification on the guidelines? Email the Eastmark Residential Association. They’re happy to help.

Improper installation may lead to a letter and fine from the Eastmark Residential Association, which no one wants. So, get out there and barbecue under the bistro lights, but be sure to follow the Eastmark Design Guidelines.

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