Perhaps you took this summer to really focus on your patio, balcony, or outdoor haven after having an entire year to really contemplate your living spaces. Even our designers took a crack at how to redesign a patio on a budget, and the results were pretty amazing (if we do say so ourselves). For those ready to stretch those patio hours into after hours this autumn, we’re honing in on the must-have element: thoughtful lighting.
Not only are outdoor lights functional in stretching your evening outdoors once the sun sets, but good lighting can make a huge impact on your overall aesthetic. The right glow can transform a space into a cozy hangout, adding warmth and a downright mood. There are a ton of options to choose from when it comes to outdoor lighting—whether you’re looking for something to string up or sit subtly in a corner—so look no further than our designer-curated faves to find the best outdoor lights for the perfect patio ambiance this fall.
Statement Outdoor Pendants
If you need a little extra something to up the ante on your outdoor space, don’t forget statement lighting. Whenever form meets function, we consider it a design win-win. Not only does it provide much-needed light, outdoor pendants help draw the eye upward and add even more nuance and dimension to any scene.
The all-weather, Flora wicker pendant light is the first on Havenly Lead Designer Brady Burke’s list of lighting suggestions. “This is the perfect piece to add a bit of texture and intrigue to your outdoor patio. The Flora pendant is eye-catching and casts a beautiful glow throughout your space.” While a versatile piece that plays well with many styles, the natural materials and woven silhouette of the Flora pendant also make it a particularly lovely addition to boho, global, and Cali Cool aesthetics.
Another exceptional choice for a bold lighting accent is the Fairmont pendant from Pottery Barn. Rather than casting an all-around glow, the Fairmount directs light downward for moodier, subdued moments, while simultaneously adding geometry and contrast to your space. “For a modern touch of focused light, the Fairmont pendant is a great choice,” says Brady. “This piece is sleek and streamlined and one of my go-to picks when desiring a modern and minimal detail.”
Traditional Lantern Warmth
If we said the words “classic outdoor lights,” we’re guessing something resembling a lantern would enter your mind. There’s a reason these fixtures are so timeless, and an enduring favorite throughout the decades. It speaks to history, tradition, and an iconic sense of style.
We give you the quintessential lighting pick for this category. The Classic Outdoor Pendant has a traditional lantern design, incorporating clean lines, tapered candle inspired bulbs, and the warmth required for a cozy outdoor space. “You can never go wrong with a simple and classic outdoor pendant — it brings traditional charm to any outdoor space,” notes Brady.
The Tosca Sconce is a lovely blend of modern tradition. Brady shares: “An updated take on a vintage-inspired style, the conical shape of this sconce gives it a more contemporary feel. Edison bulbs and a sleek silhouette add a unique touch to a home focused on the details.” (Pro tip: Edison bulbs are especially perfect for complementing industrial and rustic aesthetics.)
For a touch of tradition mixed with drama, the Caleb Sconce is our pick. With that tried-and-true old-school lantern feel, the Caleb features elongated arch glass panes for an elegant twist. “For a more classic approach, the Caleb sconce is a safe bet. This lantern-style sconce marries clean metal lines with a classic boxy shape that will always be in vogue,” comments Brady.
Classic String Lights
Achieving great outdoor lighting doesn’t mean needing to rethink your whole design. In fact, a lighter, effortless touch can be just the element you’re looking for. String lights are like the mascara of the outdoor light category: super to easy to add, and instantly elevates your spaces.
One of the most popular lighting products this year, and always, is a globe string light, like this version from Crate and Barrel. A length of cord with large, warm bulbs that often signal a well-designed patio, whether residential or at your favorite local restaurant. As Brady puts it: “Easy to install and simple to plug in, you can never go wrong with string lights. These round bulbs add a warm, vintage feel to any outdoor space making your patio the perfect spot to relax and unwind.” Worth noting that string lights also provide a lot more lighting coverage over a larger space versus pendants and sconces.
We couldn’t resist adding Twinkle Lights (also referred to as “fairy lights”) to our wide-ranging list of our favorite outdoor lights. These delicate strands are perfect for achieving a lot of lighting coverage while remaining relatively subtle in your overall design. “When outlets are sparse and larger lights are not an option, opt for twinkle lights to add a bit of sparkle to any outdoor space,” explains Brady. “These are incredibly versatile as they are battery powered and can be wrapped, draped, or placed almost anywhere.”
Lighting is simply one of the many design decisions our pro designers obsess over to bring to life your dream home. Take our style quiz and discover your designer BFF and answer all your interior design dilemmas.