The Final Touch: Outdoor Lighting Ideas

You have carefully constructed a DIY fire pit with the help of friends and family. You picked the right combination of dining sets, deep seating furniture, and decorations to bring your porch, deck, yard, and walkways to life. Your lawn is manicured, your stone paths are sanded. But there’s one final step before your outdoor remodeling project is complete: installing outdoor lighting.

This task sounds simple, but ten minutes into your online search later, you’ll discover that the possibilities for outdoor lighting designs and styles are seemingly limitless. We’ve collected our favorite ideas for each outdoor space below so you can adequately light and enjoy every area of your home.

Outdoor Lighting Ideas for Dining

When lighting your patio dining area, you don’t want to eliminate floor space with a sizable standalone lighting fixture. One option that can fit a variety of decor styles is utilizing hanging string lights. Go with soft fairy lights for a relaxed, bohemian feel, or criss-cross antique bulbs for a rustic farmhouse vibe. Overhead lighting visually centers your dining set and ensures everyone at the table has a terrific view late into the night.

Nautical Adirondack 7-Piece Trestle Dining Set in Vintage Finish
Nautical Adirondack 7-Piece Trestle Dining Set in Vintage Finish

Don’t want to illuminate your patio dining area with wiring? Save a bundle and simplify your setup with solar lights. These lighting fixtures charge during the day when no extra light is required and emit a gentle glow after sunset to keep your table bright enough for another round of cocktails or a second helping of birthday cake. 

Shed light on romantic dinners after sundown and festive get-togethers on the weekend with lighting choices that add to the mood of your deck design. For example, standing tiki torches or lanterns along the border of your deck instantly create a specific personality for your dining space and require minimal maintenance. If your dining set is underneath a sturdy balcony or two-level deck, a chandelier could serve as the ultimate statement piece.

Outdoor Lighting Ideas for Entertaining

For outdoor living rooms where you want to unwind, relax, and facilitate connection, focus on ambiance lighting. If you have stairs or low-elevation borders, consider installing subtle accent lighting that gives your patio or deck a gentle glow. Sleek lights along your deck railing with a minimal profile do the trick, as do recessed deck lights that illuminate the path to your deep seating.

For these spaces where the casual reigns supreme, homeowners are shifting away from traditional white lighting and cozying up to yellow and orange hues. This color scheme creates an intimate feeling of warmth, encouraging card games and conversations to play out long after the sun has disappeared over the horizon. Elegant, low-voltage lighting can help you capture the mood you seek while adding functionality to your outdoor living room.

When choosing the lighting fixtures for your outdoor entertainment space, we recommend deck sconces, step lights, or lighted post caps. Make the most of staircases with strips of LED lights under the base of each step. 

If you have plenty of blank space around your furniture, delight guests with an illuminated planter that adds greenery and doubles as a light source.

Outdoor Lighting Ideas for Porches and Decks

Lighting your front porch or deck is essential for instilling a warm, inviting mood in your visitors. For those with classic tastes, you can’t get much better than a front door flanked with matching sconces. Go for contemporary designs with straight lines or veer toward the more timeless looks with gentle, curving bowls.

The general rule of thumb when hanging sconces by your front door is to hang them about six feet up. Your wall sconces should measure about one fourth the height of your door to maintain pleasing proportions.

To light the rest of your porch or deck space, take inspiration from modern desert homes and place oversized lanterns at the corners of your porch to simulate a soothing cabana feel. For the entrance of your home, lighting should be upfront and center.

Outdoor Lighting Ideas for Small Spaces

When lighting small alcoves, balconies, and hideaways, you want to be particularly thoughtful about the lighting. You will likely have a primary light source, and its position will determine the atmosphere and the tone of your small space.

Choosing light for a breakfast nook or bar set where you’ll be eating, reading, or playing your weekly game of Poker? When tables are the central component of your small space, stick to hanging lighting. Whether it’s a battery-powered fairy light in a gas lantern or a metal-worked hanging lantern, an overhead light source improves visibility during the evening.

Is your small space for dancing, drinking while standing at a bar table, or otherwise entertaining guests? In this case, find a few vibrant, striking lighting fixtures that stand on their own and place them around the perimeter to visually distinguish the space and set it apart from a footpath or entryway. A choice like a colonial post light adds flavor to any space and can bring out the details of your home’s architecture.

Vineyard 3-Piece Deep Seating Set
Vineyard 3-Piece Deep Seating Set

For small spaces that are primarily for relaxing, underfoot and recessed lighting is the way to go. When you want to steal a moment in the comfort of a couch or disappear into the colors of the sunset while stretched out on a bench, uplighting will make the space cozier while creating a dramatic contrast.


While deciding on lighting options for each space, also consider how your lighting will work as a whole. Try to blend styles, so you don’t throw off your guests and family with jarring light shifts.

Follow our tips above to settle on stylish and sophisticated lighting, whether you’re furnishing a full-on party patio or a modest breakfast balcony. Are you looking for the maximum amount of privacy on your porch or deck? Discover how to add privacy to your outdoor space with style.

5 thoughts on “The Final Touch: Outdoor Lighting Ideas

  1. Fine articles. Please inform others that the solar or low voltage light fixtures that are purchased at big box stores and online emit the new LED bright white spectrum. It’s just plain awful. I’m convinced that my neighbors will assist lost aircraft on final approach.
    A landscape architect

    1. Hi Robert!

      Thank you for letting us know about your experience with the newer LED Bright White Spectrum lighting. This is greatly helpful for anyone looking to up date their lighting in their space.

      Thanks again!

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