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Lighting Ideas for Outdoor Living Spaces

by Rachel Lyon, Editorial Director for The House Designers®

If you have your heart set on a home with outdoor living space, make sure you make the most of it! Proper lighting will extend the time you can enjoy outside as well as enhance it with the particular style and ambiance you want. Your builder needs to run wiring to install fixtures, so think about light placement early on and imagine what you’d like to see there. Here are some things to keep in mind when it comes to selecting outdoor lighting fixtures!

Park Harbor Paddock Outdoor Entrance Wall Light

Rarely do you find such a striking contemporary sconce! The Paddock Outdoor Entrance Wall Light comes in 16” and 22” versions to suit the scales of different entries. Its dark black frame conceals two LED bulbs that brighten the wall, allowing the fixture to highlight itself like artwork.

Entrance Lighting

Whether you’re dealing with the front door or a patio door in back, the space around an entry point should be well lit. Entrance lighting calls attention to where you need to go and improves safety by brightening your surroundings, allowing you to unlock the door faster and avoid tripping in the dark. Of course, it also contributes to curb appeal on the façade, so it’s important to choose fixtures that complement the house.

Consider the structure of your entry. Do you have a full covered porch or just a small overhang? What is the width of the doorway? What do you have in terms of ceiling height and slope? Knowing what you have to work with will help you narrow the options! For instance, sconces that flank the door(s) are ideal if you have a low ceiling and/or a wide doorway, because they’re wall-mounted and won’t create clearance issues, and they spread the light across the whole entrance. If you have a higher ceiling, you can look into fixtures that mount on the wall over the door—lamps and lanterns are popular—or on the ceiling—flush-mounted and hanging options exist for both flat and vaulted ceilings. In any case, make sure the fixture is wide enough, or the light is powerful enough, to illuminate the whole entry.

Park Harbor Kingston Manor Outdoor 3-Light Candelabra Post Lantern

Ideal for traditional aesthetics, the Kingston Manor Outdoor 3-Light Candelabra Post Lantern boasts a rich bronze finish and a classic design. The cast aluminum construction resists rust and corrosion, so you don’t have to worry about placing it in your landscaping.

Path Lighting

Don’t overlook walkways, either! A dark path is a hazardous one. Lights around the house can help mitigate the issue when you come home at night, but if you have to walk across the front yard from the street or have outdoor living areas spread across the backyard, you should light the path. Post-mounted lighting offers the best solution because it’s permanent—better than hanging string lights for parties!—and you get to decide how high lights should be—one to two feet is recommended to effectively brighten walkways without casting shadows, but you could install them higher if have a certain aesthetic in mind.

Path lighting requires a lot of planning. Holes have to be dug for the posts and wires have to be buried to connect the electricity. Lights should be placed evenly along the path, because irregular lighting increases the risk of tripping. If you have an idea—like creating a walkway from the back porch to a firepit or pergola farther from the house—bring it up with your builder early. It’s best to have it done as part of the landscaping, and not as an afterthought!

Park Harbor Ambler Flush Mount Outdoor Ceiling Light

The Ambler Flush Mount Outdoor Ceiling Light has a chic look that works with traditional and modern designs alike. Two bulbs inside effectively illuminate the amber-colored shade to brighten spaces warmly. This fixture can even be installed on sloped ceilings of up to 60 degrees!

Overhead Lighting

Finally, don’t forget to outfit any outdoor living space like you would your indoor living room! Especially considering what goes into a good covered porch these days—so many include fireplaces, outdoor kitchens, and full furniture sets—you’d be remiss to overlook overhead lighting. Fixtures should complement the rest of the finishes, so decide what suits your home and your personal style.

You can’t use regular interior fixtures for outdoor lighting, but you will find plenty of stylish options that are rated for outdoor use—just look for damp or wet ratings and install accordingly. Flush-mounted and downrod fixtures come in a wide range of traditional and contemporary looks, and there are lanterns that hang from chains if you want to instill a more niche vibe. However, if you live in a very windy place, you may want to avoid anything that swings unless you can close in the porch. Don’t be afraid to ask your builder for an opinion, because a local professional will always give the best advice for your situation!

Whatever type of outdoor lighting you’re looking for, Park Harbor™ Lighting can help you outfit your space to perfection. They have a large catalog and offer all sorts of fixtures—you’ll even find collections with post-, wall-, and ceiling-mounted models that coordinate! Consult with an expert online or in a showroom and just imagine how beautiful your properly illuminated outdoor spaces will be!