Summer is in full swing, which means plenty of backyard lounging, dinner and drinks al fresco, and tanning by the pool. More often than not, you’ll want to continue the fun once the sun sets and take full advantage of the balmy nighttime air. Therefore, sufficient outdoor lighting is a must. Here’s everything you’ll need to keep your outdoor space elegantly illuminated.
First comes function, then comes fashion. You’ll want to address safety and security concerns before anything else. Consider pathways that lead outside, around the pool, or into the garden. A well-lit trail will not only get you from point A to point B with a clear view but also prevent tripping and stumbling over uneven terrain. It will also keep your plants and flowers safe from being accidentally trampled.
Next, you’ll want to take inventory on what your outdoor space is used for. Do you have a patio with a dining table and an overhang? A terrace with a garden? A cabana and pool deck? Your lighting options depend on areas that you spend the most time in, and the aesthetics and outdoor decor you’d like to call attention to.
The Outdoor Lighting Trifecta
Choosing the right type of light can be overwhelming. There are three kinds to consider: ambient, task and accent. As with indoor lighting, the three sources of outdoor lighting each play an important role, both on their own and collectively.
Ambient lighting fills the entirety of your space, bouncing off walls and objects, mimicking sunlight. Durable flush mounts evenly distribute light from above, along with pendants and large lantern style outdoor lighting. Taller post lamps (think of the kind you use near the mailbox or the front walkway) provide a reliable source of light, radiating from all angles of a glass or acrylic shade. Outdoor wall lights also add a nice touch and are great for illuminating a covered outdoor wall that can be hardwired.
Task lighting is ideal for casting light on places that need optimal visibility, like the dining table, outdoor bar, and pathways. Perch an LED pendant to shine light from above and lamp posts alongside stepping stones and stairs. If you’ve got a solid roof above a patio or porch, you can even install weatherproof track lights and adjustable spotlights.
Accent lighting sets the mood and overall feel of the atmosphere. It adds a warm, welcoming glow and can take place of ambient lighting once you want to kick back and relax. Smaller outdoor wall lights do the trick and can be customized if you select one with a dimmer. String lights also give off a laid-back vibe and can be strewn over a fence, trellis, or cabana that may have limited access to outlets — bonus points for battery-charged and solar options.
Selecting Your Outdoor Lighting Style
Once you’ve identified which fixtures you’re in need of, you can choose outdoor lighting styles that coordinate with your existing decor. It’s time for the fun part!
Modern lighting is all the rage in home decor and design trends. Slim profiles, neutral hues, and sharp lines join to form a unified look that takes cues from mid-century style. The SONNEMAN Jazz Notes 36 Inch Tall 1 Light LED Outdoor Wall Light follows these characteristics to a T with a vertical, aluminum body that sits flush with an outdoor wall, radiating ambient light behind bisecting, horizontal diffusers.
Pair rustic metal framework and the lived-in appeal of a rare antique find, and you’ll get modern farmhouse outdoor lighting. Much like the Troy RLM Standard Large Pendant, this style boasts sleek lines and rugged hardware with dark metal finishes, like wrought iron or oil-rubbed bronze. Rustic patio lights made of reclaimed wood also lend a farmhouse feel to your outdoor space.
Traditional outdoor lighting, also known as Mission style outdoor lighting or Craftsman style outdoor lighting, boasts a classic, clean disposition that remains stylish without making a bold statement, like the Troy Lighting Main Street Outdoor Hanging Lantern. Its simple square silhouette, slightly aged finish, and suspended chain links give an all-American aesthetic to an outdoor dining space or porch overhang.
You don’t have to live in the tropics or along the shore to embrace Mediterranean style with your outdoor lighting. Add a touch of beachy texture with weatherproof lampshades made of natural materials, like seagrass, rattan, or wicker. Try the Mission Beach Outdoor Hanging Lantern by Troy Lighting to illuminate a porch—its frosted shade directs a warm, ambient glow from above, while the structural framework beautifully offsets your softer seaside accents.
Sunlight is the driving force of desert modern design, filling out the large spaces and sharp angles of a minimalist abode. To keep things bright and spacious once the sun goes down, install an outdoor wall sconce to the side of your home that’s simple and to the point. The Ambiance 15 Inch Tall 1 Light LED Outdoor Wall Light by Justice Design Group looks as if it were carved straight from the wall, with a tapered fixture that cascades light just like a sunbeam.