Outdoor Entertaining

10 Outdoor Lighting Ideas to Set the Summer Mood

Getting your backyard to feel like a vacation is easier than you think...

June  8, 2022
Photo by Olivia Watson

Is your space ready for your next outdoor hang? Ours isn't, and we bet yours might not be either. If you’re still on the fence about investing in a weather-proof couch or an outdoor rug, note that lighting is the number one thing that can transform a space.

Whether you’re drawn to string lights for ambiance, lanterns for something more rustic, or something else entirely, take inspiration from these 10 retreat-like backyards to finally tackle your own.

1. Wonderfully Industrial

Photo by Olivia Watson

Make your back patio feel like your favorite outdoor eatery by hanging string lights across character-filled exposed beams like Olivia Watson did. The overall look? Industrial meets farmhouse meets the patio of my dreams.

2. Neutral in Nature

Photo by Giustina Miller

Giustina Miller hung string lights across the roof of her patio while scattering candle lanterns next to her furniture to add warmth into the space. While Miller decorated largely using neutrals, the inclusion of various types of plants provide festive pops of color. And who says you can’t take a cue from your indoor decor when styling outdoor spaces? Turkish style pieces continue to be popular, and Miller smartly incorporated one into her patio setup, too.

3. Lots of Lights

Photo by Annie Anderson

Annie Anderson incorporated several different styles of lighting into her outdoor living space—string lights, lanterns, and a pendant fixture. Bistro chairs and beautiful textiles add a Parisian touch to Anderson’s backyard. She took her outdoor decor to the next level by including a garden stool, ottoman, and hanging woven shelves which cozy up the patio.

4. Sparkle and Shine

Photo by Ursula Carmona

When styling her deck, Ursula Carmona prioritized seating, greenery, and of course, lighting. She opted for solar-powered mirrored lanterns that are super easy to maintain, and kept her furniture simple with woven pieces to let the lanterns do all the talking.

5. Boho Bliss

Photo by Paige Newton

Bring your favorite indoor light fixtures to the patio if they’re outdoor friendly! Denise Roberts did just that with a popular IKEA pendant—two, actually—which now makes a stylish boho statement above her clients’ large outdoor dining table. Statement fixtures like these can set the tone of a space in an instant.

6. Wonderful Wicker

Photo by Hannah Westby

Hannah Westby also went full boho in her backyard, hanging various rattan fixtures that make her space feel like a tropical getaway. A jute rug, natural furnishings, and a woven hammock tie together the look. In addition to installing lanterns, Westby also included some classic string lights for added ambiance.

7. Small Yet Mighty

Photo by Charlene Wong

Charlene Wong didn’t let her balcony’s petite size prevent her from designing a chic space. A small sofa and versatile C-table add comfort and function, while string lights encourage nighttime outdoor hangs.

8. Repurposed Retreat

Photo by Heather Thibodeau

Why not get a little crafty? Heather Thibodeau DIYed her outdoor lights on a budget using vintage oyster cans that she found on eBay as well as coffee cans from her grandfather’s garage. The end result? A one-of-a-kind chandelier filled with personal meaning and charm. Hung above a large table, the space is fully ready for impromptu outdoor dining.

9. Rustic Accents

Photo by Justin and Chelsi Shaw

Justin and Chelsi Shaw created a DIY fire pit in the backyard with paver stones and gravel, while string lights up top on poles weighed down inside whiskey barrels add a rustic touch to the setup.

10. Sweet and Simple

Photo by Chris and Julia Marcum

Chris and Julia Marcum totally made over a neighbor’s backyard in just one weekend, installing a fire pit flanked by cozy outdoor seating. Keeping furnishings simple and hanging a strand of string lights keeps the space looking welcoming and low maintenance, which is perfect for those who enjoy casual group get togethers.

This post was updated June 2022 because outdoor season's here and we could all use some more inspo to dress up our outdoor spaces.

How are you planning to light your outdoor space this summer? Let us know in the comments below!

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Sarah Lyon

Written by: Sarah Lyon

Freelance writer and interior design enthusiast