Outdoor Lighting Ideas and Options

Grab some great hints for illuminating your outdoor space with these outdoor lighting ideas and options.
Outdoor Great Room Fireplace Lantern

Outdoor Great Room Fireplace Lantern

By: Sean McEvoy

Whether you use your outdoor living space for entertaining, relaxation or both, you don't want the fun to end when the sun goes down. As you explore deck and patio design ideas, consider that the right outdoor lighting ideas and options will help beautify the space and ensure it can be a 'round-the-clock destination.

One of the simplest outdoor lighting touches you can add to your patio, deck or hardscape is lantern table lighting. Candle lanterns will add the same soft, elegant glow as normal candles, but they won't blow out in the slightest breeze. Kerosene lanterns can provide the same lighting style as candle lanterns, but they'll burn longer.

Outdoor Lighting Designs

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Plan in Threes

Planning several layers of outdoor lighting creates visual interest in a landscape. Here, designer Ilija Karlusic achieved this effect by lighting the entryway, the tree in the middle of the yard and the mailbox in front of the property.

Photo By: Rhiannon Slatter

Even Light Distribution

Installing extremely bright lights in an outdoor space often creates unsafe dark areas. Instead, install low levels of lighting all around, as seen in this patio designed by Robert Hursthouse.

Entry Lighting

Two wall-mounted light fixtures flank the entryway of this contemporary home, playing up the double door and providing a safe entrance at night. Design by Amy Bubier

Inexpensive Party Lights

Decorative string lighting fastened inside an umbrella provides inexpensive illumination for outdoor entertaining. Design by Robert Hursthouse

Accent Lighting

Exterior accent lighting can be used to draw attention to your home's unique features, such as architectural details, sculptures or plants. In this outdoor space designed by Jamie Durie, lighting adds another dimension to the sculpture at night, changing highlights and casting shadows.

Path Lighting

Landscape lighting is an important safety element for any outdoor space. In this garden, a series of path lights illuminates the meandering walkway that leads to the destination terrace. Design by Robert Hursthouse

Step Lighting

An alternative to path lights, step lights can be integrated into outdoor stairs to enhance safety. In this space, designer Paul Wrona also incorporated lights in the water feature for added interest at night.

Upgraded Lighting

This outdoor space features multiple lighting fixtures that enhance its functionality and safety, including path lights along walkways and spotlights in the pergola and bar area. Design by Paul Wrona

Staying with the lantern theme, Asian-inspired vellum-paper lanterns housing votive candles can provide an elegant touch to any nighttime outdoor gathering. Another Asian-inspired design is hanging paper origami lanterns. Just place battery-powered lights in these and hang them throughout the space for a touch of whimsy.

Many people add holiday-style strands of lights to their outdoor space. These can be a lovely touch on their own, or you can cover them with colored shades for a design that's more evergreen.

Flaming tiki torches are a familiar touch in backyards across the land. They can also provide a defense against mosquitos.

Placing candles in large hurricane vases, then decorating the outside with tissue paper is another simple and elegant idea for outdoor lighting. Lastly, consider combining contrasting elements by placing floating candles in a large bowl or a vase filled with water.

Bright Ideas for Outdoor Lighting

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