The Old-School Front Yard Accessory That’s Making a Comeback

published Aug 8, 2023
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dusk on a neighborhood street with street lamps on
Credit: shutterstock

A fresh coat of paint, a stylish front door, a well-landscaped lawn, and new windows are all excellent ways to make the exterior of your home stand out (in a good way). But in a hypothetical game of Curb Appeal Bingo, is what you’ve always been missing … a lamp post?

The nostalgic light fixtures you might associate with Charles Dickens’ book covers have gotten a modern-day makeover — and they’re primed for a residential revival, real estate and design experts say. But this time around, instead of finials and flared sidings, the fixtures have a simplified silhouette. It’s about time the lamp post enjoyed another run in the spotlight.

After all, lighting has a tremendous effect on the atmosphere of any space, and outdoor areas are no exception, says Bridget Gawronski, the senior product manager of lighting and outdoor living at Design House, a home product marketplace. Lamp posts, she says, can “extend the warmth of your home” to the outdoors, illuminating your driveway, walkway, and landscaping. She explains adding one is an affordable and approachable DIY project that can immediately boost your curb appeal.

As a bonus, lamp posts are practical: They make a home more welcoming and easy to find for visitors (and your DoorDash delivery driver) while enhancing home safety by brightening areas that are otherwise left in the dark.

Credit: shutterstock

Lamp posts in the United States, Gawronski says, date all the way back to when Benjamin Franklin was the postmaster of Philadelphia in the mid-1700s. In those days, lamps were lit by candles and placed in a glass vessel, which kept wind from blowing them out. Franklin improved them with four flat sides that flared out slightly, adding a chimney-like component to prevent soot from accumulating. 

Today’s iterations of lamp posts feature sleek lines and sophisticated finishes that bring a contemporary aesthetic to home exteriors, Gawronski says. She notes homeowners are favoring black finishes and lamp posts with multiple bulbs. The lamp posts of today have also evolved to include functional features like timers, sensors, and weather resistance technology. 

Homeowners might also consider whether they want their lamp post to have what’s called a “photo eye.” This feature provides the added benefit of activating your outdoor lights to turn on at dusk and off at dawn, Gawronski says.

If you go the DIY route when installing a lamp post, be sure to turn off your breaker box before you get to work. 

If you’ve already got electricity lines in your yard for other power-requiring features like sprinklers or lights, you can easily run the lamp post off of that line, says Sarah Stone, a Connecticut real estate agent with Douglas Elliman who’s noticed the resurgence of lamp posts. 

Otherwise, you’ll need to hire an electrician to extend the electricity into the yard, which could be a costly project. (The cost to run underground power is about $10 to $25 a foot, according to Homeguide).

As for their appeal? They’re charmers.

“Lamp posts are a very chic and classic look that will stand the test of time,” Stone says.