Carlton Woods Creekside Estate06-09-20 | Feature

Carlton Woods Creekside Estate

The Woodlands, Texas

The view from behind the fountain offers a unique perspective of the courtyard of this stately residence located in The Woodlands, Texas. PAR36 well lights brighten the walkway area coming through the gate and path lights illuminate the water feature and walkway area. Gas lamps were installed on the home providing soft lighting throughout. Shielding on the underwater lights were used to cut down on glare and show off the texture of the stones used in the water feature.
The grand entry and archway come to life at night with a low-voltage system. PAR36 inground fixtures were cored into the paver driveway that graze the natural stone and provide spill lighting that helps guide visitors to the front door of the home. The gas lamps and custom chandeliers help provide a warm elegant atmosphere.
The new hardscape, raised beds, accent lighting and overall spatial flow are seen from the overhead view of the property.
The grand entrance is guarded by Foo Dog statues acquired during the owner's international travels. Baffles angle the light towards the statues and shield the fixtures.
This is the initial view of the courtyard at the entry gates. The terraced, rectangular fountain is visible to the right as visitors are greeted with the gentle tumble of water. The lighting design helps guide guests to the front door with 3000K area lights. On the water feature, there are three underwater lights; two of them are 6 watts and the other is 4.5 watts - all at 3000K.
Each of the Queen Palms are lit by three PAR36 directionals. Recess can lights and all coach lights were converted to 2700K LEDs to keep the look of the architecture consistent.
Warm white uplights wash the back of the house and directional lights were used to accent the 3rd and 4th stories from the roofline. Well lights were used for the back fence.
The Moroccan fountain is highlighted as the artistic centerpiece of the courtyard. 2700K uplights provide a backdrop to the 3000K accent lighting of the flower beds and pathways.
Underwater lights were used to accent this water feature. Glare was minimized by using honeycomb louvers and long glare shields on the pools. A smaller fixture was used for the Moroccan fountain that the clients purchased in their travels.
The up lights show the height of the house. Well lights accent the stone around the garage and through the porte-cochere. The two-story sections are all illuminated by 12-watt lights. Above the garages on the right, 4-Watt, 2700K lights were used.
This aerial shot shows the extensive, yet even lighting on the 14,000-square-foot, Mediterranean-style home achieved by Smelek Design, Golf Course and Landscape Architects and Light it Right Architectural and Landscape Lighting with the use of such fixtures as 32 well lights cored 6" into the pavement around the property, gas lamps, custom chandeliers, and lights mounted on the gutters, eves and handrails to catch all of the multiple levels of architecture, which included more than 4,000 square feet of balconies. The first phase of the project was finished in 2014 and the second phase in 2018.

When the owners of a 14,000-square-foot Mediterranean style home, located in The Woodlands, Texas wanted to upgrade their lighting to better showcase the unique property and provide a more safe and secure property, they reached out to Light it Right Architectural and Landscape Lighting as the lighting design consultant for the project who in turn brought in Smelek Design, Golf Course and Landscape Architects.

According to Smelek, the goal of the courtyard was to create a space that would better fit the architecture - something that was a little more geometric in shape. The homeowners acquired a decorative fountain from Morocco and they wanted to incorporate it into the plan.

The landscape architect and the lighting designer, Brandon Kuehler, met with the clients to review the lighting design of the courtyard before installation. "The fixture selection took a few hours. This was to make sure we had all of the correct lenses and wattages, so, it was balanced, and we didn't have any glare. The main goal was to accent the new water feature and make it a focal point. It was also important for our clients that the statues were accented by the front door," Kuehler commented. The up lights around the courtyard were part of phase one but additional lights were added on the backside of some columns, since the clients would be spending more time in the space.

The project was done in two phases. The first was completed in 2014. The second, which included lighting design and redesign of the courtyard, was completed in the spring of 2018. Most of the project's lighting fixtures were provided by Auroralight, including underwater lighting for the decorative fountain.

Temperature and Lighting Selection

"Typically, what we'll do is a concept lighting plan, but in the case of this project, we just talked about what we wanted to light and then Brandon selects the fixtures. He picks the fixture that's gonna best be suited for that location," Smelek said. "The house is lit everywhere. This is how they wanted it. I like to give them some type of guidance. If they don't know, I'll pick what I think is best for them."

A combination of copper and brass light fixtures were used on the home and path lights were added into the courtyard, nine of which were copper with brass finials. "We had a ton of fixtures in the gutters. All of the fixtures we did in the gutters, like the accent lights for the landscape, are all brass, so there's a combination of copper and brass. All the water lights are brass, as well," Kuehler remembers. For the path lights in the courtyard, he used 2.5-watt, 3000K LEDs to bring out some color in the landscape. "The whole house was done in 2700, and it got varied wattages out there, so, when we originally did it - we used a lot of 12s just because of the height of that. Now, we've actually switched them over to 15s to give them some punch," he added. 3000K were used for the Foo Dog statues and for everything added to the courtyard. The house was kept warmer at 2700K, while the accent pieces were done at 3000K.

Safety and Security
"Safety and security was really important. Around the garage area, it was pretty dark, so we cored a bunch of PAR36 well lights in, around the garage, and the back door," Kuehler advised. "The same thing was done under that drive through. We cored a lot of lights through that, going into that courtyard and into the pavers to make sure they had nice egress." The lighting designer wanted to be sure that the pathway going up to the front doorsteps and around the back of the estate were lit as well. He cored lights under the pool deck in the back to make sure they were lighted. Each fixture on the house was changed to LED and PAR38 cans and coach lights were all changed to LED form as well.

Challenges and Solutions
When asked about project challenges, Kuehler stated, "The amount of coring we had to do. We did a lot of coring for those fixtures. There was a lot of core drilling. All the lights around the driveway, the pool deck, the lights going to the courtyard, and all the recessed lights under the ground were all core drilled." The lighting designer recalled that it took some extra time to get all the pavers cored and then cored down into the driveway, so that they could recess the lights, which are 6-inch PAR36 wall lights.

"On the existing courtyard, there were a number of problems," Smelek added. "One is that it did not drain well. It had a lot of standing water. As a solution, we were able to handle it with subsurface drainage. The planting beds had no structure to them. They were just raised beds, which drained on to the hard surface. The hard surface was holding water, so the water just didn't get out of the courtyard. We used a cut limestone curb and then a travertine flooring on the courtyard itself and we added subsurface draining to the planting beds."

Phase 1
Phase 1 was completed in two onsite visits. "The goal was to replace all of the current lighting they had on the house and make it a lot brighter. There was also a ton of dark areas because they only had lights in the flower beds, and we came back and did cores in the front, by the driveway, and also in the pool deck in the back," Kuehler stated. In total, there were 32 6" cores for PAR36 well lights. Additionally, two well lights were installed inside pots on top of the patio on the back of the home. Lights were also installed with gutter mounts all around the property, as well as on eves and handrails to catch all of the multiple levels of architecture. "We also replaced all of the existing lighting on the house with LEDs. It was a total of 90, which included lights in and around more than 4,000 square feet of balconies," Kuehler added.

Phase 2
This phase of the project included a new courtyard. "The owners of the home desired to create a courtyard entrance that would be more complementary of the home's Tuscan architectural character, while functionally solving drainage issues that caused several bird baths of trapped water along the walkway," landscape architect, Mike Smelek explained. The clients also wanted the front and back of the property to be lit as much as possible to show all the unique features of the home, including the balconies.

"We liked the way the whole space came together. The water feature is definitely the focal point of the courtyard. I think the way that we were able to incorporate the Moroccan fountain with that worked out really well because it's a little bit out of character with the architecture of the house. The finished courtyard now welcomes guests with the soft sound of water tumbling between the pools and a visual experience that introduces them to this magnificent Mediterranean home," Smelek commented.

It helps a lot when you can work closely with a really good landscape architect and communication is key, according to Kuehler. He added, "You want to go with the best, so that you don't have issues down the road. When dealing with stuff that's cored in with the concrete - I didn't want it to look like tons of light in there. I wanted it to be evenly lit and I think we were able to achieve that."

As seen in LASN magazine, April 2020.