If there’s one thing the pandemic has taught us, it’s to embrace relaxing and entertaining in our backyards and front porches. As the days get longer and the temperatures warmer, you can enhance your enjoyment of your “outdoor living room” with some well-placed lamps and lighting fixtures.
First, Set the Scene
Check out your curb appeal. If you haven’t changed your outdoor lighting fixtures since you moved in – and it’s been on your to-do list for a while – now is the time to do it. Are the current lighting fixtures dated in style or showing signs of wear, such as tarnished or pitted finishes? There are so many affordable lantern options today that combine fashion with function. Don’t settle for boring!
Especially since the pandemic began, we rely on grocery and food deliveries more than ever. Make sure your street address is clearly visible in the evening so guests and delivery drivers can locate your house easily. You can do this with an illuminated address sign near the front door or by having a light shine on the house number (like with a landscape fixture pointed at a sign post or porch pillar displaying the number or by placing the numbers near a porch light).
And speaking of guests and deliveries, do you have an illuminated path leading to the front door to reduce the risk of trips or falls? There are many styles of decorative path lights on the market.
Is there enough light at the front door for guests to be seen easily before you open the door and without them experiencing glare in their eyes?
There is usually not enough light in one (or more) of these important outdoor areas. Your goal is to have balanced, even light that combines safety with aesthetics.
Sometimes, the entrance to the home features a covered porch with room for seating. If this is your primary outdoor relaxation spot, upgrade the comfort level this year with new furniture and lighting. Installing a junction box – or two, depending on the length of the porch – for a ceiling fan will allow you to enjoy the outdoors with a perpetual soft breeze in the heat of summer. If you’d like the benefit of added illumination, consider a ceiling fan that has an integrated light kit. Be sure to check for a “damp-“ or “wet”-location listing before selecting your fan.
A ”damp” rating means the ceiling fan can be installed in covered areas, such as a porch or bathroom. A “wet” rating means the fan can be installed in an area with direct exposure to rain, such as a pergola or a wood beam. You cannot safely operate an indoor-rated fan in a damp or wet environment.
If this is an older home that cannot accommodate a junction box or does not have damp-rated sockets on the porch, consider the many decorative battery-operated lanterns available to provide soft illumination for dining or reading. Some models are equipped with audio speakers and Bluetooth for playing music from a mobile device.
Having a deck for outdoor entertaining offers a lot of lighting opportunities for extending the activity well into the evening. There should be a lighting fixture next to the door to provide safe entrance/exit at the threshold and, depending on the length of the deck, an additional wall light may be needed to fully illuminate the deck surface and prevent shadows (because shadows make the deck space look smaller).
If there are stairs leading from the ground to the deck, there are specially designed accent lighting fixtures – from tape light or channel light under the railing to individual step lights along each stair – that allow residents and guests to navigate steps safely. If you’d like to create mood lighting for ambiance, there are illuminated post caps for deck railings and string lights that can be hung over the deck for a café vibe. When purchasing string lights, look for a wet-location label. As with ceiling fans, indoor-rated string lights are not safe to use outdoors.
To further enhance your “outdoor living room,” there are wet location-listed outdoor table and floor lamps in tropical, coastal, and nature-inspired themes. If there are not enough outlets for lamps, battery-operated lanterns are a viable substitute.
On the Patio
One of the most popular outdoor living improvements homeowners made over the past two years has been extending the home’s roof over the patio to serve as an outdoor dining and entertainment space. With a ceiling, you can create an indoor living room aesthetic by installing outdoor-rated decorative ceiling fans, fandeliers, and chandeliers. To complete the room effect, anchor the space with outdoor-rated colorful or natural-toned rugs.
Upgrade those generic white resin tables and chairs for weather-resistant versions that closely replicate the beauty and tropical feel of wicker, but can withstand the elements. Finish the look with outdoor lamps in that same tropical or organic, wicker-like motif. Having light at various levels creates a warm ambiance and offers instant coziness — just what you’re looking for when casually entertaining or relaxing at the end of the day.
If you don’t have a full ceiling for your patio, consider adding a pergola. It takes less commitment and money than extending the roof while still giving you the flexibility to hang wet-rated lights.
If you have an open patio, you can create an outdoor living room look with a weather-resistant decorative area rug, more luxurious outdoor furniture, plants to create a natural border/wall, and a few outdoor lamps or portable lanterns.
In all of these scenarios – whether your casual outdoor entertaining occurs on the front porch, a back deck, or a patio – don’t forget the visual impact that landscape lighting adds to the view. Landscape lighting is a great way to highlight trees and shrubs or garden beds. Not only does it provide visual interest, but when placed closer to the perimeter of a property (i.e. along a fence or treeline) it makes the yard seem larger.
Get everything you need to make your outdoor living bright and beautiful at LightsOnline.