How to Create an Outdoor Living Space

When the summer months roll around, you want to be sure you can take advantage of your outdoor living space as much as possible.  Whether your backyard is a pristine oasis complete with a pool and garden or you are limited to a small balcony overlooking nothing but your neighbor’s place, there’s always room for improvement.

Enhancing your outdoor lighting will give your area so much more versatility: Host a cookout and have guests linger after dusk.  Enjoy a late dinner on the patio.  Bring a book out after the sun goes down and listen to the crickets.

Chances are if your current outdoor lighting situation is lackluster, you’re not using the space as much as you could.  Customize your lighting to enhance your space by following the tips below:

For Staircases: Adding some degree of step lighting creates a beautiful effect that frames your outdoor space.  Summer is a great time to install step lighting and enjoy its aesthetic value, and you will really appreciate the addition when the days get shorter in the fall.  It makes negotiating a dark staircase after a long day much more manageable.  As far as product recommendations, it depends on what you’re looking for.  You can choose a model with dusk-to-dawn sensors so that you will never have to worry about turning it on and off, you can choose a color-changing look, or you can stick to a basic model that will replace a standard outdoor wall outlet.

For Pathways & Sidewalks: Lining your pathway or sidewalk with motion-activated or remote-controlled lights is another inexpensive addition that can make your outdoor area brilliant.  It’s easiest to choose battery operated lights for this project so you won’t have to deal with snaking a power cord to a distant outdoor outlet.  For a longer pathway, I would recommend our path light kit: it includes two lights with stakes for mounting right in the ground.  If you’d rather illuminate your entire path with one light, try an LED spotlight – we even have a model that includes a remote control.  The spotlights are incredibly powerful, so you’ll likely get enough light output to cover the area.

For Railings: LED rope light is fantastic for deck railings or balconies.  It’s an upgrade from the string lights you use during holidays: It’s more durable, highly energy-efficient, and the light does not attract bugs (LEDs do not emit UV rays).  Also, the overall look is more sophisticated.

For Dining Areas: Try complementing your outdoor dining table with candles: they will create a soft, cozy atmosphere for summer dinners.  For a more dramatic effect, think about hanging a candelabra overhead.  With outdoor tables, you can get away with a little less light output – and there’s no substitute for the natural glow of candlelight.

For Grills: Don’t forget about the area that requires a good deal of task lighting for cooking.  Clip a barbecue light to your grill (or mount it right on the grill shelf), and you will no longer worry about whether the steaks are overdone.

Ready to get started?  Good luck with your project, and let us know how it’s going on our Facebook page!

Emily Widle

Emily Widle

Emily graduated from UNC Chapel Hill with a degree in journalism. She enjoys scouring the news to report on the latest in the lighting industry as well as bringing valuable remodeling tips and exemplar home projects to light.

  • John

    This is a great blog and even though I specialize in industrial LED lighting, I still find this type of lighting to be very interesting. I will definitely follow your advice when I add lights to my patio and koi pond.

  • Livermore CA

    Lighting really can make a big difference in an area, especially the outdoors. It can really enhance the feel and design. Thank you for sharing.

  • Mark

    Lighting is very important to groom outdoors. Very interesting guide, I’ll definitely try it.