21 Outdoor Lighting Ideas

Candles, hanging lanterns, chandeliers, and string lights add magic to evenings outside

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Candlelit Glow

  • Get the glow: Campania birdbath available from Potted ($89; 323/665-3801)

Float tea candles in a water-filled birdbath to create a mini firepit. On windy days, set tea lights in clear glass votive holders in a dry birdbath so they won’t wobble.

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Electric Wreath

Illuminate your garden with a globe-light Christmas wreath. To give some of the bulbs a frosty look, as pictured, apply frosted-glass spray before you begin. Then tightly group a strand of lights to cover a section of a wire wreath frame, attaching the strands with zip ties on the back side. Add as many strands as you need to cover the wreath form; we used three strands of 25-count lights to cover a 12-inch frame. Plug your wreath into an extension cord. Lights: $12 strand; target.com. Ashland wire wreath frame: $3; michaels.com. Frosted-glass spray: $5; onlinefabricstore.net.

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Outdoor Chandelier Made of Branches

If your gardening to-do list includes pruning deciduous shrubs and trees, recycling some of the clippings to make a twinkling natural chandelier.

More: How to make a rustic outdoor chandelier

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Light Box

String light strands along the roof perimeter of an outdoor room to accent party space. Here, lights glow against the redwood slats of an outdoor bar in a backyard retreat.

More: 11 Ways to Decorate with Outdoor String Lights

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Soothing Pendant

Under the arbor, round string lights and a vintage pendant on a dimmer illuminate the soothing dining space.

More: 11 Easy Entertaining Ideas to Steal

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Hacienda Tile Sconce

Turn old hacienda tile into a gorgeous sconce for your entry or backyard with this easy project.

More: Outdoor sconce from salvaged tile

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Basket Pendant Lamps

The pendant lamps are hung on tension wires, one high and one low, to achieve a random pattern above the redwood table. The lamps are outfitted with halogen bulbs outdoors that will last for years, even outside.

More: Get Inspired By an Eco-Friendly Prefab Ranch House

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Starlit Globes

Create outdoor chandeliers by wrapping lights around old wine-barrel hoops, then suspending them from the branches of
a large tree. Even easier: Rest one globe each atop two large planters flanking the front door. Hoops: From $49/3-hoop orb; etsy.com/shop/PurpleThumbNotions. Battery-powered LED copper-wire lights:
$10 each (use 2/globe); amazon.com.

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Cloth-Wrapped Lantern

The Polynesian-style bark-cloth-wrapped lantern that hangs from the ceiling inside the pavilion is a custom piece from Oceanic Arts Tropical Decor (oceanicarts.net).

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Glow Drops

Each tiny teardrop terrarium decking this tree contains a cluster of battery-powered LED copper wire lights. Gently stuff a light string into the terrarium through the hole in the back, then use twine and small s-hooks to secure the mini lanterns to the branches. Conserve battery life by turning them off in the day, and turning them on as dusk falls. Terrarium, $9; amazon.com. LED copper wire lights, $10; amazon.com.

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A Little Bit of Everything

Low-voltage fixtures set the wall and fence aglow, helped by votives hung from the fence and Indian lanterns in the schefflera tree.

More: How to Create an All-Family Outdoor Lounge

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Modern Street Number

Neon numbers light the porch aglow and make it easy to find the house at night.

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Readymade Chandelier

For this small dining area, a simple candle chandelier from Ikea is more functional than pillar candles.

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Cluster Luminarias

Tin luminarias look as good during the day as they do when lit at night. They’re available by mail from Tin-Art New Mexico FolkArt by Celeste (505/345-7231).

More: South-of-the-border style inspires a California garden

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Eclectic Chandelier

For a festive ambience, hang little white string lights from arbors or suspend an outdoor chandelier over a patio table. This one was made by hanging vintage canning jars, beads, and toys from a wagon wheel.

More: South-of-the-border style inspires a California garden

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Tap-Light Luminarias

Put your own spin on the classic luminaria using battery-run tap lights. These simple fixtures ― flat, battery-operated lights that turn on when tapped on top ― are sold in packages of six for about $20 at hardware stores and general merchandise stores.

Add your own embellishment by wrapping a piece of translucent rice paper around the base and taping the ends of the paper together with double-sided tape to form a cylinder.

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Mood Lighting

Hanging lanterns that hold candles illuminate without the expense of wiring. Tall candlesticks, set on the ground, add romance in the evening.

More: Design an affordable backyard Bali

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Tropical Lighting

In keeping with his rear deck's tropical feel, Joe Rivers Altieri strung Christmas lights in bamboo covers from Target under the bamboo awning.

Read: Full story

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Hang Fire

Create romantic lighting for an outdoor dinner party by suspending votives (we used mini recycled-glass tea light lanterns) at varying heights from low-hanging branches. Use clear fishing line and be sure to keep candles a safe distance from the leaves.

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Stained Glass

Cover chandelier lanterns with tissue paper to create a soft glow.

• Ruler
• Pencil
• Scissors
• Tissue paper
• Small foam brush
• Yasutomo Nori or similar paste
• Glass lanterns or jars

Step-by-step guide
1. Measure and cut tissue paper into desired shapes and sizes (we used long strips for easy application).
2. Dip foam brush into paste. Holding a piece of tissue paper against the outsideof the lantern, paint an even coat of paste onto tissue paper and adhere to glass.
3. Repeat until lantern is covered. Let dry overnight, then hang. Tip: Keep lanterns away from moisture.

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White Lights

For a soft glow at night, wrap tree trunks and branches with strands of white lights. Define borders by placing small candles in glass holders along mow strips, walls, and walkways.

More: Quick winter spruce-ups