A trend toward creating “outdoor rooms” has dramatically increased lighting options for homeowners who want to extend their time outside.
Most indoor lighting fixtures — chandeliers, pendant lights, table lamps — now have a counterpart designed for patios or decks.
“We have seen outdoor lights absolutely replicating indoor designs,” said Anne Robert of theoutdoorstylist.com, a website that focuses on home trends.
“Outdoor lighting is a mood setter. It can make or break a design just like it can indoors.”
The abundance of products lets you make outdoor spaces more functional, said Rich Young of Outdoor Living Brands in Richmond, Va. “It allows families to extend the square footage of their home,” he said. “With the right light, you can extend the evening for dining or reading or other activities outdoors.”
When choosing fixtures for outdoor entertaining areas, consider how much light is necessary, said Alene Workman, a spokeswoman for the American Society of Interior Designers. A table needs to have sufficient light so diners can eat, whereas a conversation area may need only soft mood lighting.
Be creative with table lighting, recommends Krissa Rossbund, a senior style editor at Traditional Home Magazine.
“Gone are the days when people hang a chandelier over a table and call it lit,” she said.
She suggests hanging two small chandeliers instead of one large one, or buying a chandelier at a flea market and painting it a bright color.
Outdoor chandeliers come in a variety of styles, from mission to modern. Manufacturers also offer many candle chandeliers for outdoor areas that don’t have electricity.
For seating areas, choose a weighted outdoor floor lamp, said Workman, who owns an interior design firm in Hollywood, Fla. “There are wonderful new outdoor lights that are almost art pieces themselves,” she said.
Colored lights, illuminated furniture and subtle fixtures designed to blend with nature will be popular this year, according to design professionals.
Workman expects to see the use of color increase, and “I don’t mean Christmas lights,” she said. Landscapers are starting to incorporate subtle red, blue and pink lights into their work, she said.
Color is particularly appropriate if you are planning a party, Rossbund added. It’s “a fun way to change things up,” she said.
Some homeowners are adding a bright pop of color with light-up patio furniture, Robert said. The battery-powered chairs and tables are available in a variety of colors.
International designers like Modoluce and Neoz have created lines of plastic tables and chairs that are lit from within.
Avanzini has a line of wood furniture made with glowing light strips. It helps create a lounge look that Robert thinks will be popular this summer.
“With the rise of staycations, we will see a lot of designs adopting a real bar-type lounge attitude, with perhaps more extravagant and festive pieces,” she said.
Moonlight USA sells decorative outdoor illuminated globes, which can glow white like the moon or cast light in a rainbow of colors. The company also makes a tabletop for the globes. The clear acrylic disc has a cut-out center that allows it to rest on top of the globe so it can function as a table.
“The color is very robust,” said owner Anke Kondek. “It’s a wow effect.”
Homeowners wanting to light a more natural setting may go for a softer, more layered look, said Beth Webb, an interior designer in Atlanta. She favors the custom copper-and-wood pieces made by The Outdoor Lights in Cumming, Ga.
Company president Chris Wakefield has created lights that cast a warm glow around fire pits, dining areas or outdoor living rooms. Some of his more popular items include punctured copper cylinders that create a firefly effect, stamped copper lanterns and illuminated, artificial birdhouses. The lanterns can hang from a shepherd’s hook or a tree branch.
Before buying lights for reading, lounging or dining, the professionals recommend making sure that pathways and steps are properly lit for safety.
“You want light to help you navigate spaces near or around steps,” said Jeff Dross, director of education and industry trends for Kichler Lighting.
He and the other experts warned against making outdoor spaces too bright. They suggest using subtle light that is aimed towards the ground wherever possible.
“For most tasks you only need low light,” Dross said. “Avoid that glare. Glare forces you to think you need more light than you do.”
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