Twelve Amazing Illumination Ideas for Your Outdoor Spaces

As the evenings stay warm but get darker, it’s time to light up your outdoor life with these great lighting ideas

August 12, 2015

The exterior lighting on this fabulous stone villa really enhances the look of the property  — 
One great way to use architectural lighting is using soft lighting in trees, which really enhance a garden when lit at night  — 
Gone are the days of dome and mushroom lightings - in are trendy flat-top path lights, or even fully flush lights like these  — 
It's very trendy to use hidden LED strip lighting in outdoor spaces, such as under benches or wall ledges  — 
Using colour-changing lights like these LED path lights means you can create different moods for your outdoor space  — 
Globe paper lanterns are a timeless classic. Different sizes and colours can create a spectacular look for a party or can they be used more simply  — 
Hanging lanterns come in all shapes, sizes and colours and create a great vibe in your garden  — 
For a bit of external grandeur, outdoor chandeliers and string lights can be hung above a dining table to create a magical ambience  — 
It's very easy to make your own hanging lanterns using a Mason jar, sand and candle - or fill it with battery-operated string lights  — 
Placing string lights, battery-powered tea lights or solar lamps underneath a table covered with a long tablecloth looks stunning for a night-time event  — 
Filling a birdbath with tealights is an inexpensive but effective way of creating a glow on your patio  — 
If you're lucky enough to having a fountain, pond or pool, spend a little extra on some stunning lighting to show it off  — 

The nights are already drawing in, the sun is setting earlier and earlier – but there are still a lot of warm evenings left to enjoy. And with those darker evenings comes the need for gorgeous outdoor lighting to create a welcoming ambience, whether for a late-summer party, a romantic tête-à-tête or just a regular Tuesday grill dinner. And not only does outdoor lighting enhance your own enjoyment of your home, it’s also a great way to show your property off to potential buyers during those darker evenings, if you’re selling up.

So went in search of new ways or products to illuminate your front pathways, doors, sidewalks or your backyard patio, deck, gazebo or pool. We spoke to two lighting consultants – Mark Takahashi from Great Canadian Landscaping Co. and David Nelson at Northwest Landscape and Stone Supply – to find out what’s new, what’s cool or unique and how to create your perfect outdoor oasis using light.

“Done right, landscape lighting can really make your home stand out,” says Takahashi. “Even if it’s raining, which we know is often here, your property can look and feel larger with the right lighting. In addition, by adding lights to certain spaces it will draw the eye and appear to extend the backyard.”

Both say that with the vast selection of stylish outdoor lighting fixtures available today, there are endless lighting options for every area of your yard and garden.

“Probably the biggest change or advancement we’ve seen in outdoor lighting is with LED lights,” adds Takahashi. “Today, LED’s come in a variety of colours so you can create accent lighting with accessible controls.”

He went on to add that LED strip lighting is really trending this year. “You can mount LED strip lighting underneath an eating bench for dramatic ambient lighting,” says Takahashi.

Nelson agrees, “LED strip lighting is really big and it is finding its way on patios, decks, outdoor walls (whether block or stone walls) in lots of modern styles.”

Here is a look at some of the current trends in outdoor lighting styles for 2015.

  1. Outdoor wall lighting: This is really in vogue. It not only can provide light, it can enhance the architecture of the house and add comfort and warmth to the exterior of your house.
  2. Architectural lighting: One of the most exciting ways to use architectural lighting is to light up hard stone and soft wood from the inside. “There are also lights for trees that mimic moonlight for a soft modern look,” says Takahashi. Nelson adds: “You can also purchase, or for that matter, find your own log or stump and create lamps with strip lighting that you insert into the cracks in the wood.” 
  3. Flat path lighting: Kichler Lighting Canada features a new flat top contemporary path light that is a spin-off of traditional pathway/garden illumination. Square, flat top, really sleek path lighting is in and dome and mushroom lighting is passé.
  4. Strip lighting under seating: If you want to make the most of the outdoors, you’ll want to use it in the evenings when it is dark. There are many creative, stylish options such as lighting placed under seating or garden features, to complement well placed lamps.
  5. Vibrant colours: Don’t stick to one colour – be bold and fresh as changing the colour of the light at a press of the switch will drastically change the mood and feel of the outdoor space.
  6. Illuminated globes: Looking for sophisticated style in your yard? These yard lights are timeless and exude elegance and personality.
  7. Lantern chic: Garden lanterns have enjoyed popularity for years, and they continue to be sought-after for their quaint, classy look – they look fabulous hanging in your trees. You can get them solar-powered as well. For those who like the shabby-chic, country-style backyard, lanterns today come in a plethora of colours, styles and shapes to give your yard a welcoming, homespun style.
  8. Chandeliers: The chandelier has gone outdoors in a big way, however, these are mostly lit with candles.
  9. Homemade hanging lights: Transform a wire basket (you know the hanging ones we used to use to store our vegetables and fruits?) into a chandelier, or use a hoop with string lights suspended from it. Or fill a mason jar with tea lights and voila! A gorgeous lantern for a fraction of the cost. Takahashi says he’s seen clients hang mason jars with white string lights inside suspended over the patio table.
  10. Under the table: If you are having a garden party that has tables with floor-length tablecloths, consider placing garden stake lights or battery-run candles underneath so they glow through the tablecloth … how stunning will that look at night?
  11. Birdbaths with tea lights: These aren’t only for our fine-feathered friends. For your next soiree, add tea lights in your water-filled birdbath to create a glowing mini fire pit!
  12. Underwater lighting for ponds and pools: Nelson says these LED lights change colours and fade in and out for beautiful accent lighting. “You can also buy underwater strip lighting for waterfalls,” he adds.

Michelle Hopkins is a Vancouver-based freelance writer with extensive magazine, newspaper and online writing experience in home décor, new home developments, culinary adventures, wine, travel and more. Michelle writes for many notable publications including Real Estate Weekly and other Glacier Media Group publications, Western Living Magazine, Vancouver Magazine, Home Décor & Renovations, to name just a few. Michelle is passionate about anything to do with real estate.
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