Here's Your Complete Guide to Outdoor Lighting Ideas

woodland garden with string fairy lights and lanterns
credit: Trisha Sprouse for Hunker

It's easy to forget about the exterior of your home when you've got so much going on inside, but have you ever thought about how your home makes you or guests feel on arrival? Or, how about the finishing touch on your patio that will actually make it functional after dark? Want to know the trick to sorting it all? Two words: outdoor lighting. Discover our top tips on what to buy and where, as well as some easy but gorgeous outdoor lighting ideas.

outdoor pergola with globe string lights
credit: Lisa Dawson

Types of Outdoor Lighting

When it comes to the best options for outdoor lighting, there's plenty of styles to choose from. Whether you're looking for something to blend in with your design or fixtures that will add character, these styles are all up for consideration.

Wall Sconce

If square footage is an issue in your porch or backyard, the trusty wall sconce is the answer. Saving on floor space and lighting up the night, outdoor wall sconces and wall lights will add a modern touch to your outdoor space.

Table Lamps & Lanterns

Table lamps and lanterns are a great way to add an immediate lighting fix to your patio space. Simply pop them around the garden or on your outdoor dining set — just make sure they're suited for outdoor use, or better yet, solar- or battery-operated so you don't have to deal with cords.

Pendant Lighting

Perfect your al-fresco dining space by adding a few pendant lights to the space (obviously you'll need a gazebo or porch to start). Eating outside has never looked so good.

String Lighting

You might think that fairy lights are reserved for the kids' bedrooms, but string lights are the perfect way to bring a starry night sky closer to your dinner table. Plus, you can choose between Edison-style bulbs, bohemian lanterns, or colorful globes to match your decor.

Path Lighting

Path lighting is a pretty sweet way to lead guests up to your house and keep them from falling off the beaten track. These stake lights are normally solar-powered too — meaning no cords and no extra electricity.

Outdoor Lighting Styles

Now that we've covered the types of outdoor lighting available, it's time to think about the styles you might like to go for instead. Get ready for the fun part ...

Boho Outdoor Lighting

It's pretty easy to go boho when it comes to outdoor lighting, as most options come in a rattan or wicker material. For something different, hang or lazily place Moroccan or paper lanterns around trees for an ethereal feel.

woodland garden with string fairy lights and lanterns
credit: Trisha Sprouse for Hunker

Farmhouse Outdoor Lighting

There's no harm in keeping things simple, and a string of lights across your yard will totally be in keeping with a barn or farmhouse aesthetic. If you really want to go all out on the rustic vibes, add in a fire pit, which will not only offer light, but also warmth.

outdoor cinema with pergola and string lighting
credit: Lust Living

Mediterranean Outdoor Lighting

Make like the Europeans and become a master at outdoor dining. Create the look of Spanish moss with string lights, wrapping them around a pergola and letting the ends cascade downwards. No pergola? No worries: Hang them on trees instead.

contemporary garden patio with industrial string lights
credit: CB2

Modern Outdoor Lighting

A modern home requires modern lighting options, and wall sconces, pendant lights, and string lighting will all do the trick when decking out your patio. Just look out for streamlined shapes and slick finishes.

Where to Shop for Outdoor Lighting

While we've already rounded up nine of our all-time favorite sources for outdoor lighting that will wow, these places are the best of the best when it comes to outdoor lighting. Look at your own risk.

With all the modern outdoor lighting fixtures on the shelves, One Kings Lane is the place to go for sophisticated styles that will suit every garden.

If you're a fan of the midcentury aesthetic or want to add a spot of color, Schoolhouse Electric is the place to head. Managing to pack just as much personality into outdoor lighting as the designer-favored indoor fixtures, you won't be disappointed with the options here.

Oh, we do love a good selection to choose from. When it comes to shopping, Joss & Main is on hand with everything from boho pendant lights to industrial style lanterns.


Emma Jane Palin

Emma Jane Palin

Emma Jane Palin is a multi-award-winning blogger and freelance writer with a penchant for design and interiors.