Ideas for Lighting Outdoor Entertainment Areas
Enjoying your home’s outdoor spaces does not have to stop when the sun goes down.
In fact, there are whole months of the year here in Texas when it’s ONLY possible to enjoy the outdoors after nightfall!!
Illuminating outdoor entertainment areas is just about the most fun you can have in home design. Choose creative ways to set the ambience, and you open doors to pure magic in a yard or garden setting.
The result? An entertainment area that’s inviting and instantly sets the mood. Whether it’s a barbeque or just a few drinks with friends, your outdoor entertainment area could be just one string of lights away from something stunning!
Here are some ideas to make it happen…
3 “Musts” for Outdoor Lighting
The holiday party season is coming fast, and it’s time to make sure NOW that any outdoor entertainment areas you have are well lit.
With every deck, patio and garden laid out differently, there are still three high-level goals to keep in mind to decide on the best lighting option for a space…
First, your outdoor area should be safe for everyone…from Grandma to the grandkids! Any areas where people walk need to be totally visible, including walking paths, driveways, and steps. Lighting should illuminate the edges enough that you can see your feet.
Interestingly, spacing lights out along walkways can actually help define steps and uneven spots because of how the shadows fall!!
Next, of course, is ambience. This is where the magic really sets in! The way you illuminate your entertainment area can make the difference between somewhere you love to sit down and somewhere you avoid. Your guests will feel the same way!
Keep reading for specific ideas on setting ambience in the next section…
The final “must” for outdoor lighting is security. Safety is the physical comfort of everyone in the space, while security is protection from intruders. Motion-activated lights with built-in sensors are commonplace these days, and are also part of outdoor lighting…but that’s not the kind we want in an entertainment area! Be sure these lights are NOT placed where they can be set off by people moving around the entertainment space, or that floodlight will ruin everything.
Choosing the perfect lighting for your outdoor space is just as important as choosing it for your indoor spaces. The right lights can completely change how you and your guests feel…and even how you use the space!
Here’s some inspiration to get started…
Outdoor Lighting Ideas
Each space is different…so first, try to visualize each of the following in your outdoor area and see what “speaks” to you. Your answer will be different than the next person’s!
- Set light to wash up or down a wall. This is done with sconces, because they’re designed specifically to shine light up or down instead of outwards. The effect is quite stunning, especially when set over a surface with a texture you can show off! Brick exteriors, for example, are gorgeous in this kind of lighting…
- Integrate your garden lighting with your outdoor entertainment area! Uplight a tree or a nearby bush, or place lights in your water features…add path lights and step lights for safety and for this magical ambiance effect, too. It will give you an atmosphere of indescribable elegance.
- Don’t forget string lights! This comes right before the holidays, which means you’ll probably have extra lights on-hand…but string lights are NOT just for the holiday season!! A string of white lights can provide some of the softest illumination ever while giving the whole seen a fairy-like “twinkle” effect, like so many lightning bugs…
- Light from within the house can help illuminate the outdoors, too. If you have windows facing your entertainment area, even a floor lamp or a table lamp (now called “portables” in the design world), center it in the window to provide a soft glow with a unique design flare! (If you’re thinking of the movie A Christmas Story and the memorable lamp there, that’s definitely a look we’re NOT trying to achieve here!)
How bright should you light?!
Illuminating any area—indoors or out—should be done with purpose. Yes, you want to be able to see well outdoors so you can flip burgers or mix drinks…but you wouldn’t light your kitchen and bedroom the same, right? There are considerations for every space, and an outdoor entertainment area is no different.
The purpose of most outdoor entertainment areas is to create a blend of comfort and atmosphere. Avoid flood lights or anything too bright.
The brightness of lights is measured in lumens. The level of lumens you need in an outdoor area will depend, but you can follow these general recommendations…
- Pathways: 100-200
- Steps: 12-100
- Water (ponds, pools): 200-400
- Outdoor walls: 50-190
- Landscaping: 50-300
If you’re unsure about the lumens for your space, ask an interior designer.
The lighting temperature (also called “warmth”) is measured in Kelvins. The lower the Kelvins, the warmer the light. Outdoor lighting should be warmer, or lower in Kelvins, to create a comfortable and relaxing ambience…that said, landscaping can favor higher Kelvins, because the cooler-looking light can mimic moonlight!
Get the most of your outdoor entertainment area by determining your purpose for the space. If you’ll be barbequing or just mixing drinks, whether it will be you and a partner or a whole slew of guests…consider your outdoor entertainment space a canvas for you to play with!
You can book time with our concierge services and home experts to get help installing or hanging lights. We can also help with other integrated elements like plumbing, electrical, or other climate control features.
Just see what you can do to create the ideal outdoor space…
Of course, you can also talk to our interior designers to get their two cents! Join us in our private Facebook design inspiration group and ask your questions there!