Make it a priority to include lighting in your outdoor room when planning your deck, patio, porch, or pool area. In addition to being able to see in the dark, you will want to illuminate and highlight your new outdoor living room. Extending the hours in which your outdoor room can be used increases your enjoyment and provides additional value to your home.
Consider adding lighting that is hard-wired, such as wall fixtures, ceiling-attached chandeliers, and ground lighting. In addition, make sure you plan for portable lighting such as table and floor lamps, string lights, and landscape lighting. Just as you would inside your home, be sure to include outlets not only near furniture groupings but in areas where you may want to add lighting for ambiance.
Lamps incorporated into a furniture grouping provide both task and ambient light. Casting a glow over the room, or providing the proper amount of light for reading or other activities, portable table and floor lamps can be moved wherever necessary. The best lamps to select for outdoor use are those which have been made specifically for use outside. Constructed of materials which will stand up to moisture and sun, outdoor lamps provide a much longer life and are safer outside than indoor lamps. Lamps specifically made for outdoor use are wired so that they are grounded, which provides an important safety feature.
Wall lights can provide general lighting but they also wash a wall, creating an interesting light and shadow play which enhances your outdoor room design. When adding this type of lighting, consider whether the fixture can be placed differently than intended. For instance, on my porch, I had my electrician attach the wall fixtures upside down so that the light shines up the wall rather than down. I was asked a couple of times if that was what I really wanted but, in the end, all agreed that the effect was a pleasant change from the norm.
Overhead lighting has been losing popularity over the years, however the use of chandeliers is gaining momentum. Once reserved for entry halls and dining tables, chandeliers are taking a front and center position in seating groupings and smaller ones are used as accents over pieces of furniture such as console tables. If you choose to include ceiling-attached lighting, consider small recessed lights on dimmers.
Ground lighting and landscape lighting create tremendous impact in the outdoor room. Rather than being surrounded by black nothingness, this type of lighting extends the boundaries of the outdoor room and provides the ability to enjoy a beautiful garden or landscape long beyond the hours that Mother Nature dictates. Today, solar lighting is abundant and is a good choice if there is no power source nearby. Solar lights typically come on at dusk and go off at dawn and, with the use of a solar battery, run on next-to-nothing dollar-wise. However, my experience has been that for the kind of light that makes a strong impact, electric continues to be a better choice.
String lights are festive. Whether you want them all the time or just for special events, plan for them up front so that when the festive urge strikes, you are ready. I have mine on a timer so that each evening they magically light up making me feel as though I am suddenly on vacation. They are inexpensive and easy to hang anywhere. You can even take a small strand of Christmas lights and put them inside a lantern, jar, or other object and place anywhere you need a little pop of light.
Be crafty. Be ingenious. Look at everyday, or discarded, items and consider what they would be like if lit with tiny white lights. A cheese grater, a light globe, a topiary form, even a hula hoop can be strung with a strand of lights to create something unique and eye-catching.
The pool is a natural place to incorporate lighting. Most pools include electric pool lights below the water, but adding floating lights creates a kinetic energy that is captivating.
Omitting adequate lighting is shortchanging the outdoor room that you have created. The difference between no light (or inadequate light) and proper illumination can be the difference between just another outdoor space and one that is stunning. Light is magical and romantic; it makes people feel good. Crank up the wow factor of your porch, deck, or patio with light.