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Majestic and Masterful
Lighting for the Ages

By Steve Parrott, VOLT® Lighting


At the Florida home of VOLT® Lighting's CEO and founder Alan Brynjolfsson, Rick Bequette of Brilliants Nights was contracted to upgrade the landscape lighting using fixtures from Brynjolfsson's company and its new division, AMP® Lighting. The illumination of the trees' canopies that frame the structure and engage the viewer was accomplished by a few ControlPro™ Spotlights positioned near the base of each tree. In addition to illuminating the tree canopies, these lights also revealed the tree trunks. The lighting designer should always illuminate tree trunks all the way to the ground to provide a visual path from sky to earth.


Recessed downlights and hanging lanterns were already installed inside the Spanish revival-style backyard entertainment structure. To illuminate the columns and the underside of the roof's edge, Bequette used Subterra Pro™ Well Lights - precisely aimed and adjusted for light level (via remote control). To tie in the rest of the backyard space, Bequette illuminated the trees and walls that border the space for a lighting design that flows (without stops) from structure to nature, creating a safe and secure nighttime experience.


Illuminating the space around a pool is always an essential task for the lighting designer. In this case, illumination comes primarily from two sources, tiki-type lights (see below) and bounced light from the underside of the column arches. Additional Soft-Wash Pro™ Hardscape Lights were mounted under capstones adjacent to the pool.


While Polynesian tiki-type lights stray from the Spanish theme, the owner requested these lights to contribute a backyard tiki bar feeling. These 2-in-1 Tiki-Brass Torch Lights include a flaming wick (fueled by an oil reservoir) and an LED area light mounted under the shade. The combination of light sources provides enough ambient light for safe navigation around the backyard pool.

The work of Rick Bequette of Brilliants Nights is well known to the landscape lighting community (see Landscape Contractor DBM, November 2015). His Florida-based operation designs and installs some of the most exemplary lighting in the region. It was my pleasure to meet with Rick and photograph one of his most recent projects, the home of VOLT® Lighting's CEO and founder, Alan Brynjolfsson.

As the lighting manufacturing company's founder, Brynjolfsson loves to use his own property as a testing ground for his company's latest products. He knows that putting prototypes in the ground is an essential part of the evaluation process.

One might wonder why Brynjolfsson (an experienced lighting designer himself) would hire an outsider to remove all the existing lighting (still working perfectly well) and replace it with a brand new system. The answer is two-fold - his respect for the unique artistry of the Brilliant Nights team, and the launching of the new professional-only division - AMP® Lighting: created as a company exclusive to landscape lighting professionals. The public can go to the their website ( and view the offerings, but they cannot see prices, nor can they order products. Only authorized professionals can do that.

Rick Bequette was among the first to become authorized. As he would soon learn, the advanced control features of these lights greatly expand what's possible.

Illuminating the Circular Drive
The first challenge was to illuminate the wide circular drive that dominates the front of the property. There are two main ways that designers tackle this task - area lighting from staked fixtures (usually path lights) or lights from above.

In this case, path lights could not illuminate far enough into the center of the drive, so lights from overhanging branches were employed. This was not an easy task. The branches were up to 30 feet off the ground and belonged to large live oaks. Bequette accessed these with a rented boom lift.

In less than half a day, he moved the boom throughout the front and side yard installing about a dozen lights - all cast brass ONE ControlPro™ 200 Integrated LED Downlights.

Bequette remarked, "When your lights are installed 30 feet off the ground, you want to be sure they never fail. I have confidence in these products - especially since they're covered by a lifetime warranty."

Other advantages of these lights are that they have interchangeable optics and can be dimmed by remote control. This is useful when you are at the top of the lift and need to make last-minute decisions on beam angles and light levels.

The finished results of these downlights are extremely wide pools of light that serve to mimic moonlight throughout the front and side yard.

Revealing the Majestic Live Oaks
Perhaps the most compelling features of the property are the huge and expansive live oaks that dominate the front yard. These trees form a verdant canopy that spans the width of the property. Without proper lighting, the oaks can seem ominous and overbearing. After illumination, the canopy takes on a cathedral-like appearance.

Lighting the entire canopy required surprisingly few fixtures. Using the ControlPro™ 800 LED Spotlights, Bequette positioned them to graze the trunk and limbs while the majority of their 60 degree beams projected into the upper branches. Also, since these ControlPro™ fixtures feature remote controlled dimming, he was able to walk the property and quickly fine-tune the light levels to best achieve the desired results.


This view (from the left side of the property) shows how the illuminated tree frames the driveway and provides a circular visual path from house to tree to hardscape back to house again - "closing the loop."


While the dominant lighting on the property was achieved with spotlights, path lights are also used. In the foreground of this photo you see the Magnum Pro™ LED Path Light. These were placed along the edges of the drive with fairly wide spacing. They provide pools of light that add to the safety of people walking into the property. Note that the house facade is spotlit from both up and down lights. The downlights are recessed LED spots designed to provide formal architectural lighting. The uplights are staked fixtures (ControlPro™ Spotlights mounted in garden beds) that create a more organic and compelling illumination. These uplights also provide a modeling light to the undersides of the window treatments and balcony - giving them more depth and revealing their unique designs. Both up and down lights can be dimmed independently to create a range of visual effects from subdued and mysterious to bright and formal.

Capturing the Spanish Charm
The Spanish revival-style house with graceful curves, arches, columns and balustrades was originally built with recessed downlights mounted over arches and balconies. These were supplemented with ControlPro™ uplights mounted in garden beds. Since both downlights and uplights can be dimmed, the homeowner can give the structure a more formal appearance (increasing the downlights) or a less formal, more organic appearance by increasing the uplights.

Retaining walls in the front and side yard feature several square columns with finials and cross-work. Their prominence demanded a small spotlight for each.

Extending the Backyard Space
The expansive backyard patio that surrounds a pool and encompasses a generous entertainment area was designed in a traditional hacienda style defined by arches and columns.

Bequette illuminated each column with two Subterra Pro™ Well Lights installed flush with the paver tiles. These fixtures feature adjustable integrated light sources; they can be slid up and down, tilted to the desired angle, and dimmed by remote control. Bequette adjusted these lights to provide even illumination along the length of the column while hiding the light source from passersby.

Completing the Mediterranean Theme (With a Little Polynesian Flair)
A pool, hot tub, and fire pit dominate the remainder of the patio. These are bordered by stacked stone retaining walls, and include border hedges. Bequette again used the new division's hardscape fixtures, mounting them under wall capstones. These fixtures were designed to provide wide, even distribution with no hot spots.

As an homage to a relaxed Polynesian lifestyle, Bequette installed several 2-in-1 Tiki-Brass™ Torch Lights. These fixtures feature an oil reservoir and wick for a live flame, and a hidden LED light source to provide a wide area downlight. The addition of the torch lights serves two purposes - first, to set a mood, and second, to increase the overall light level - especially important for elderly guests navigating around the pool.

Completing the design, Bequette installed uplights to illuminate the patio's palm, cypress, and oak trees that define the property boundary. This illumination (at the farthest regions) creates depth in the design - a rich three-dimensional experience.

Moving On
Brynjolfsson plans to continuously evolve the landscape lighting on his property (with the help of Brilliant Nights). After all, who is in a better position to showcase the best of this work than the man who creates the lights?

As seen in LC/DBM magazine, April 2016.

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February 17, 2019, 5:02 pm PST

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