When the sun sets and the temperature drops (and the insects seem to appear out of nowhere), it’s tempting to abandon the patio for the comfort of indoors. But the right patio design will let you enjoy your backyard no matter the time of day.
These patio lighting ideas will show you how easy it is to add functional and atmospheric light to your favorite outdoor space.
1. Deck Patio Lighting Ideas
One light source isn’t always enough, especially if you live in a rural area. Even if the space features a fireplace or pit, consider adding accent deck lights in the form of candles, globe lights, or a hanging lamp.
Use string lights along the perimeter of your deck’s shade sail or sun umbrella. Solar deck lighting can eliminate unsightly wires. Be sure to include a lamp or candle on your patio table.
If you regularly use your deck as an outdoor living space, the last thing you want is to fumble with an outlet or on-off switch every time you use it. Upgrade your lighting with an outlet timer or Bluetooth-enabled plugs that can be controlled from your smartphone.
2. Porch Patio Lighting Ideas
Many covered porches feature permanent light fixtures. Whether your outdoor space features a hanging lamp or basic exterior wall sconces, supplement the existing fixtures with softer accent lighting.
Invest in a main porch light with a built-in ceiling fan for added functionality. On warm summer evenings, this simple touch can make your porch a thousand times more comfortable.
Adorn your outdoor tables with real or battery-powered candles. If your porch features a designated dining area, design your centerpiece around an ornate candle or lamp. The soft glow will double as both mood and functional lighting.
3. Pool Patio Lighting Ideas
Use tea lights or lanterns to frame the path from your patio to your pool or hot tub. Draping large globe lights over your pool will offer mood lighting for late-night swimming. The lights will also look lovely reflected off of the pool’s surface.
Most patio lighting ideas will go above your swimming pool. Still, don’t miss out on the chance to add lighting below the water’s surface, as well. Focus your pool lighting around key areas like the staircase, diving board, or any design features.
Some pools are better suited to built-in lighting than others. But illuminating your pool or hot tub from within will elevate your outdoor lighting design to a whole new level.
4. Small Patio Lighting Ideas
To save space on a small patio, it’s important to focus your lighting efforts skyward. The more lighting you can supply overhead, the less square footage you’ll need to sacrifice to free-standing light fixtures.
Add fairy or icicle lights to your home’s exterior or fencing to draw attention away from the limited elbow room. Making the space brighter and more attractive will ensure it feels cozy rather than claustrophobic.
Use potted plants, outdoor decor, or curtains to disguise your lights’ power cords. Or, for a sleeker and more eco-friendly design, opt for solar light fixtures.
5. Covered Patio Lighting Ideas
If your covered patio lacks the necessary wiring, there are plenty of battery-powered and rechargeable pendant lights available to choose from. You can hang these lights from a ceiling hook when you need them and bring them in to recharge when you don’t.
String lighting works just as well draped under a covered patio as it does strung up over an open lawn. Mix together several types of accent lights — fairy lights, icicle lights, globe lights, paper lanterns, etc. — for a Bohemian twist.
Try extending your string lights past your covered porch to an adjacent area, like a fire pit, hot tub, or grill. This will give your backyard a cohesive feel and eliminate the need for dedicated path lights.
6. Outdoor Living Room Lighting Ideas
One of the greatest benefits of having a patio is the ability to create an outdoor living room. But if you want to use this living space during the night, you’ll need to add some stylish, functional light sources.
Incorporate multiple light sources of various sizes and brightnesses. While a vibrant chandelier will come in handy during dinner, you might not want something that bright when it comes time to enjoy cocktails by the fire pit.
Mirrors are well-known for their ability to brighten up a room. You can amplify your patio’s light by hanging an outdoor mirror. Your patio mirror will brighten up the space by reflecting light from your fixtures and nearby interior windows.
Focus lighting around staircases, doorways, and any other spot where good visibility is a must. Framing these areas with small lanterns or string lights is a subtle way to increase your backyard patio’s safety without ruining the aesthetic.
7. DIY Patio Lighting Ideas
String lights are the easiest overhead lighting option to install in a patio or backyard. All you need is an outlet, a staple gun or mounting tape, and a ladder.
Source: @vgagolfer87 via Instagram
Installing landscape lighting can be tricky if your space lacks trees or other structures. Thin wood stakes spaced around your patio offer a short-term solution. If you’re looking for a more permanent solution, go with cedar posts.
Globe lights strung flush against your porch ceiling will mimic the look of downlighting without the labor or cost. You can also mount simple string lights around the edge of your patio or porch slab in place of recessed lighting for better visibility.
8. String Lights Patio Lighting Ideas
In recent years, outdoor string lights have proven themselves as not just another passing trend. From high-end restaurant terraces to backyard barbecues, you don’t need to look far to find this atmospheric lighting solution in action.
These lights are ultra-versatile, easy to hang, and the power cord is part of the design. You can use patio string lights to create a warm glow that offers visibility without the harshness of a regular light fixture.
We can’t stress enough that string lighting is not just another term for Christmas lights. But if string lights are a mainstay in your patio design, get creative throughout the year. You can swap out your everyday bulbs for different colors and shapes to fit the season.
Remember that not all string lights are rated for outdoor use. Whether you’re hanging them for a single day or permanently, double-check that your chosen lighting will stand up to the elements.
9. Backyard Patio Lighting Ideas
Lighting your backyard requires a delicate balance. On the one hand, you want enough ambient lighting that you and your guests won’t trip and fall. On the other, you don’t want to ruin your backyard’s romantic atmosphere with a couple of giant floodlights.
Large globe lights are a trend-forward way to add just enough light to your backyard space. String the lights between your home’s exterior and surrounding trees. Or install free-standing poles to support your backyard lighting idea.
String lights are the perfect accent to a fire pit. They won’t compete with the fire’s glow, but you also won’t be left in total darkness when the flames die out. Spread lanterns or fairy lights throughout nearby trees and bushes for a magical, storybook aesthetic.
10. Pergola Patio Lighting Ideas
Strings lights are one of the most versatile outdoor lighting ideas for a pergola. You can mount them flush against your pergola’s support beams for hassle-free lighting that doesn’t require permanent installation. Or drape them from the ceiling for a romantic take.
Along with the lighting inside your pergola, don’t forget to illuminate its exterior. Frame the base or roof of your pergola with small string lights or lanterns. These lights don’t need to provide any notable ambient light — just enough to show where the pergola begins and ends.
Use string lighting to link your patio with your pergola. Not only will these serve as pathway lights between the two. But they will also keep your pergola from feeling disconnected from the rest of your outdoor living space.
Complete your pergola design with sheer curtains for added privacy and protection from evening pests. You can even hang mini lights within these curtains for an extra glow.
11. Rustic Patio Lighting Ideas
String lights really are the chameleons of patio lighting. For a rustic take on this contemporary trend, opt for Edison-style bulbs (the kind with prominent filaments inside) instead of halogen or LED lighting.
Include plenty of natural textiles in your patio design. Pair your string lights with macrame wall hangings, or look for an outdoor chandelier made of macrame or wicker. Paper lanterns, used sparingly, can also add some great texture.
While not bright enough to serve as a primary light source, you should absolutely include some candles in your rustic patio design. If a full-size fire pit isn’t an option, invest in a standalone electric fireplace or furnace to take its place.
Rustic decor is more organic than many other trends. You can get away with leaving some of your power cords exposed. Drape the loose ends of string lighting down around your patio furniture for a more natural, lived-in look.
12. Modern Patio Lighting Ideas
Use string lighting to draw attention to or create sleek lines in your patio design. Frame the edge of your patio, roof, pergola, or any other structure with a unique shape. You can also design your own geometric angles using a few sets of string lights hung overhead.
Funky light fixtures are a staple in all types of modern decor. Look for wall-mounted or hanging fixtures that will add an edgy, artistic twist to your outdoor space. Paper lanterns are one of the most popular outdoor lighting ideas in modern design. Just make sure you invest in a lantern made for outdoor use.
You can also go in the opposite direction with super-simple recessed lighting built into your porch ceiling. Install lights along stairways, garden beds, fire pits, and bench seating to bring your patio design to life.