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Lighting Guide for Patios and Outdoor Rooms

Updated on December 22, 2017
viryabo profile image

Practicing as a professional interior designer for 30+ years, I do design & build projects & offer tips on how to do simple design tasks.

Patios serve most of us best in the evenings and at night, and making sure you have ample lighting strategically placed is just as important as creatively decorating the space with outdoor furniture and furnishings.

Outdoor lighting is meant to serve for both functional and aesthetic purposes . . . functional purposes meaning the right kind of lighting for differing purposes.

Lighting is obviously not required in the day time but as the evening begins to fall, it is needed for things like outdoor dining, entertaining guests and evening barbecues, playing games, reading a good book, or just watching the sun set.

Aesthetically, patio lights add a special look that you can't really appreciate in daylight. Well-chosen and strategically placed light fixtures not only add beauty to the space, the peaceful and relaxing mood will flow into the garden and its surrounds.

An Effective Patio Lighting Scheme
An Effective Patio Lighting Scheme | Source

Patio Lighting - What You Need To Know

Careful and thoughtful planning is the key to the success of patio and deck lighting. Experience is important for installations of patio or any other lighting, and so, it's a good idea to seek help from landscape architects who have the required experience in outdoor lighting design.

Electrical contractors and retailers of light fittings can also offer good advice on what to do and what works best. In some localities, the electrical utilities will give free design advice and assistance if requested for.

These questions are important to answer before embarking on patio design lighting.

  • How much light, and where?
  • Where are the strategic areas?
  • Lighting the patio and the surrounding garden
  • Patio lighting fixtures style must suit the patio's theme

Home-owners with electrical wiring and lighting experience, who may wish to plan and execute their own outdoor or patio lighting system, need to keep some things in mind. There a few points to note.

1. Areas that require lighting - You need to decide which areas you need to light and how much light you'll require. Perhaps you intend to work on the patio only, then your lighting design idea must work well with the various activities that will take place within the patio.

Let's say for example, you want to enjoy outdoor eating and you are the family chef, you will need a bright light that's focused on the barbecue area. For a casual and light atmosphere, soft patio lighting will give indirect illumination without spoiling the evening's mood. And for a game of volley ball, or other outdoor games, high intensity illumination will be required, though it must be positioned in a way that it won't shine its glare into peoples eyes.

2) Strategic placement of lights - Being strategic about patio lights placement is important, and will determine the success or failure of your patio lighting design. If a few lights are placed judiciously, a more pleasant atmosphere will be achieved. Placing a whole lot of light fixtures all over the place, or indiscriminately fitted in order to just cast out the darkness, will just not work.

Its good to know where to place each type of light, highlighting only spots that need it, such as the patio pond with its waterfalls, and dim lighting for areas that don’t.

3) Smooth flow to surrounding areas - The garden must be brought into the patio's lighting scheme, because at night, the patio is a transition from the interior of the home to the garden. The patio and the garden should be treated as one. Any lighting plan must ensure the trees and groups of plants (shrubs or potted), are highlighted enough to sustain the visual dimension that's 'a natural' in the garden during the day.

4) Function, then style - The outdoor lighting fixtures must be chosen, first for function, and then for style. There are thousands of fixtures to choose from and depending on the patio's theme, if its style is kept in mind whilst making plans to buy, the overall outcome will be brilliant.

There are the wall mounted fixtures, utilitarian post lights, spotlights, decorative ornamental lights, and lights made to look like everything from stones, to flowers, mushrooms, frogs, and illuminated patio seats. Some light features are suited for formal gardens and patios, and others for contemporary outdoor rooms.

Lights illuminating plants in the patio and garden look much better when the fixtures are concealed. All that needs to be seen is the glow of the lights when it's dark.

Adding Wireless Patio Lights

Wireless lights adds charm and excitement to outdoor rooms and its surrounds.

Warm flickering flames from scented candles floating in glass bowls or even on the surface of the garden pool. Light from small open fires giving a warm cosy feeling.

Paper bag luminaries or luau lights adding pleasure to any outdoor room at night. Gas-fed fire pits with volcanic rocks piled to form a pyramid shape, gives both warmth and light on a chilly autumn night.

A mix of electrical lights with wireless lights is a great idea for patio lighting, and lights for the outdoors generally.

However, what ever choices are made, almost everyone responds emotionally to well planned and placed lights. A patio is incomplete if the lighting is ineffective or just regular.

A good mix of wireless and electrical lighting is best, and will ensure that the outdoor lighting scheme looks divine and inviting at night.

© 2011 viryabo

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    • viryabo profile image

      viryabo 6 years ago

      Cwarden, thank you for your visit and for your nice comments.

      I believe you because on my only trip to Florida, years ago, i noticed that porches and patios had a great deal of attention paid to their plan. They looked so lovely in many homes i saw.

      Thanks and GodBless

    • viryabo profile image

      viryabo 6 years ago

      Midlife Magic, just the time to start to enjoy the outdoors.

      Thank you, and thanks for the visit and for your kind comments.


    • viryabo profile image

      viryabo 6 years ago

      Thank you Denise, and thanks for finding time always to leave me nice comments. And i know how packed your schedule is, plus participating in the challenge as well.


    • cwarden profile image

      cwarden 6 years ago from USA

      Really good information! We take our patio lighting pretty serious down here in Florida! Thanks for the info.

    • Midlife Magic profile image

      Midlife Magic 6 years ago from Canada

      I love this. Spring is just coming for us now so I am just looking at things like this now.

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 6 years ago from North Carolina

      Wonderful information V. Nice job-looks very inviting.