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16 Summer Outdoor Lighting and Decor Designs

If you want to make your backyard, deck, porch or patio warm and welcoming, as well as extending the amount of time you can use those spaces, then it’s time to consider some new outdoor lighting design ideas for your home. Outdoor spaces enlarge your home and create new usable spaces for you and your family to spend time relaxing and entertaining. 

Outdoor lighting not only brightens up the evening and night, it also creates drama as well as creating distinct spaces for different purposes. The right lighting and decor can even create the illusion of different rooms outdoors. Outdoor lighting design is not just for looks — it also helps make navigating around your home and yard easier and safer by lighting pathways and steps.

The combination of several lighting sources adds depth and interest, and creatively combining lighting and outdoor decor can transform your backyard, courtyard or patio. In this article, we will go over some creative and useful outdoor lighting design ideas that you can use in your own home. 

1. Wall Lanterns and Sconces

Let’s start close to the house with wall lanterns and outdoor sconces. These fixtures are mounted to the wall of the house and wired internally as a permanent addition to the home. Typically set on either side of a door or along the wall of a covered porch, they can also be used in more unusual settings such as on fences and pergolas. 

Sconces differ from lanterns in that the word usually refers to the bracket that holds a light and is attached to a wall or piece of furniture like a mirror frame, but sometimes the word is used to mean any sort of wall-mounted light. 

These lights come in a variety of styles, from antique outdoor lighting like vintage hanging carriage style lanterns to sleek and modern fixtures that hug the wall. The choice of bulb can also vary the style and light level. This wall light can be wired to a switch for ease of operation. 

Lights Mounted on Posts

2. Lights Mounted on Posts 

Most commonly, people place lights on posts at the entrance to the driveway or near the front of the house. Don’t overlook post-mounted lights as part of your summer outdoor lighting and decor. These versatile lights can be placed on tall poles in the garden to illuminate the greenery and cast a glow in the yard, or a series of lower posts with mounted lights can brighten a walkway or seating area in the yard. 

Shop Our Selection of Antique Outdoor Lighting for Your Home

Styles vary from the vintage Victorian style lantern to modern, and they can be used as focal points or hidden so that they blend in and cast a glow. Post-mounted lights can also be built in as part of a deck design that easily allows transition from day into night use without missing a beat. 

3. Solar Garden Lights 

Solar garden lights offer total freedom of placement since all they need to function is some sunlight during the day. These handy lights come on short or mid-height stakes and poles and come in a wide variety of styles. Easy to place in gardens, along walkways and around the yard, they make adding some fun and sparkle super simple. 

Solar garden lights also come in more sculptural styles and can be shaped like flowers, stars, globes and more. The LED lights can also come in a variety of colors. 

String Lights

4. String Lights

Also called fairy lights and twinkle lights, string lights are an affordable and incredibly versatile outdoor lighting option. If you are short on outdoor outlets, there are also solar-powered varieties available for all your decor needs. Outdoor string lights come in a wide variety of styles covering everything from vintage style bulbs, glowing fabric balls, novelty shapes and more. 

These lights add drama and glow when strung from trees, along fences or even hung in clusters from a pergola or porch ceiling. Easy to mix with other sorts of lighting, string lights help add texture and interest to your outdoor lighting design. 

5. Chandelier Lighting for Porches

If you are lucky enough to have a large porch or covered deck area, consider installing a chandelier style light over the dining area. Outdoor chandeliers can be wired for electricity or can be fashioned from glass jars which can safely hold candles for a more natural glow. 

A simpler version of the chandelier is a pendant light, which is also hung from the ceiling. Hanging lights can also be added to pergolas and some outdoor seating furniture that has a structural wooden frame.

These lights look fantastic on porches that are highly styled with trim and crown molding and the light can bring out the drama of details such as crown molding and cornices. 

Check Out Our Extensive Selection of Decorative Crown Molding< Candles in Jars and Lanterns

6. Candles in Jars and Lanterns

Always in fashion, candles are an affordable and easy way to add to your summer outdoor lighting and decor. Ideally, candles are in fireproof containers such as Mason jars, lanterns or sconces. Candles can be hung from trees and placed in groups on tables. They can even float in a pool or pond for added beauty. 

7. Creating Drama with Gas Light

Gas light is an often overlooked option for outdoor summertime lighting. On a cool evening, your guests will appreciate a gas-powered patio heater with a beautiful glowing flame lighting the area. 

Gas lights can also be installed on porches and posts for some old-fashioned subtle lighting that brings up the charm level of any home or yard. 

Fire Pits for Warmth and Light

8. Fire Pits for Warmth and Light

Who doesn’t love just sitting around a fire and spending the evening chatting with friends? With so many options available these days, installing a fire pit easily creates a perfect gathering spot right in your own backyard. Fire pits can be small and portable or built of brick and stone. They can also burn wood or gas and can really extend the season as the nights get chilly when fall approaches. 

A patio can be designed to have a fire pit built right in. The addition of an outdoor fireplace also creates a warm glow for your guests to enjoy. Fireplaces have the added benefit of creating more options for adding lanterns, side lights or uplights on the sides. 

9. Ground Level Lighting for Outdoors

Light fixtures installed very close to the ground or almost flush to the ground are a subtle yet dramatic way to light walkways, edges and garden beds. One of the most common versions of this is the uplight, which casts its light upwards along fences or in gardens to dramatically light certain features. 

Other options for ground level lighting are only a couple of inches high and cast their light out sideways, thereby lighting the ground nearby. They can create an otherworldly atmosphere while safely lighting walkways. Combined with some uplights, illuminating trees or walls can be very stunning. 

Projecting Light

10. Projecting Light

With affordable outdoor projectors easily available, you can light a wall, fence or even a garden area with a beautiful glow. Using a projector to cast a still or moving image can help light an area while creating the sensation of being inside a piece of art. If you don’t have a wall or fence, consider hanging a sheet and projecting the image of an outdoor scene, waterfall or a relaxing video of beautiful images. Your guest will be amazed and enchanted.

11. Lighting the Parasol or Table Umbrella

Just because the sun has gone down doesn’t mean the umbrella should be closed up. These umbrellas are perfect for hanging some string lights underneath. Drape fairy lights of varying sizes at different heights to create interest or invest in a light fixture made just for that purpose. Light fixtures that fit around the center pole are available, but typically need to be removed to close the umbrella. 

Bring the Indoors Out for a Change

12. Bring the Indoors Out for a Change

No list of outdoor lighting design ideas would be complete without stating the obvious thing that you’ve probably never thought of. Virtually any indoor lamp can be used outdoors as long as there is no chance of rain for the evening. A floor lamp set near your outdoor seating area not only brightens things up, it also creates a warm and homey feeling. Table lamps of all sizes can be placed on picnic tables and on end tables. Just remember to bring them all back in the house when your entertaining is done. 

13. Add a Deck with Built-In Lighting

If you are going for a home upgrade and considering adding a deck, the addition of built-in lighting really takes it up to the next level. Decks can be constructed with lighting fixtures built into railing posts, recessed into stairways and added to upright structures like pergolas and seating areas. Adding a deck to your home can be a solid investment as well — with a very high return on the investment when it comes time to sell. 

Outdoor Signs for Light and Whimsy

14. Outdoor Signs for Light and Whimsy

If you are looking for a unique and interesting way to add some light to your yard, patio or courtyard, a vintage or modern sign may be the way to go. Signs created specifically for outdoor use can be mounted on a wall or fence, or even a post to create a focal point while casting a glow. If you love shopping vintage and antique stores, you could find some old signage from a bowling alley or shop. 

Custom neon signs are available as well as modern signs created with LED lights. You are only limited by your imagination. 

15. Add Some Sparkle

The addition of reflective surfaces helps amplify whatever lighting you are using. Consider the addition of a reflective metal surface to sections of fencing, or adding mirrors to porch walls. Polished tilework can be added to tabletops, patio edges, planters and more to help bounce the available light and create that magical sparkle. Glass mosaics are also very versatile and can be a fun home upgrade project for the family. 

Flexible Tube Lighting

16. Flexible Tube Lighting

Also known as rope lights, these flexible tubes of LED lights are incredibly versatile and effective. They can be used to edge walkways, create sculptures, wrap around tree trunks or branches, hung on walls or can be set out of sight behind the edges of garden beds to create an indirect glow that is just magical. Placed up under benches or tables, they also create an almost floating effect for furniture and accessories. 

Flexible tube lighting comes in a variety of colors and can also be set to change colors or create the illusion of movement in the lights. 

Summer Outdoor Lighting for Your Home

Now that you are armed with a wide variety of outdoor lighting design ideas, you can create the backyard fantasy that you’ve always dreamed of. Remember to mix lighting sources for depth and interest and to cluster and group lights for drama and to draw the eye. With so many lighting options on the market, the options are endless. 

Image Credits


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