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Illuminating Your Patio

Patio looking out to neighborhood with gazebo, string lights, brown wood furniture decorated with white and yellow cushions at night.

Create a cozy space after the sun goes down.

While a patio is perfect for kicking back any time of day, evening—especially those balmy summer nights—is prime patio time. And nothing takes dusky ambiance up a notch or two like the right lighting.

The following four lighting suggestions are perfect for turning your patio into a mood-setting space. Use one, mix and match a couple, or use all of them to add a little night magic. 

  • Flameless candles. Whether battery-powered LEDs or solar powered, flameless candles are great for safely enjoying a warm glow. You can find flameless candles in a variety of sizes, with or without a flickering flame, with a “melted” edge or flat top, and in a glossy or matte finish. Use them for a table centerpiece or accents on side tables; you can easily move them around, so you can change up the look whenever you want.

  • Lanterns. You could also pair flameless candles with lanterns. Like candles, smaller-sized lanterns (no larger than 12 inches) are ideal for main table centerpieces, while medium-sized lanterns work well on accent tables. Don’t want to take up table space? Tuck large lanterns into the corners of your patio or hang one from a shepherd’s hook.

And no matter your design aesthetic, you’re sure to find a lantern that complements your patio’s décor. Styles range from those with a bohemian vibe to nautical inspired, metal and glass combos, rattan and wrought iron—the list goes on and on.

Also keep durability in mind. If you opt for a lantern that isn’t waterproof, you’ll need to bring it indoors when the forecast is calling for rain.

  • Pendant lights. If you have a covered patio, a damp- or wet-rated outdoor pendant light provides essential illumination for a dining table. You can make a bold statement with a pendant or opt for a design that’s more subtle. No matter which way you go, hanging the fixture at an appropriate height is key. A rule of thumb: you’ll want between 30 and 34 inches between the bottom of the light and the top of the table

String lights. String lights, whether they’re Edison bulbs, globe-shaped bulbs or something entirely different, bring sparkle to a patio. They’re stunning as an understated backdrop, for defining your space or for illuminating a deck. 

When shopping for string lights there’s a lot to consider, including bulb type, power options (batteries, plug-in or solar), durability and length. In fact, don’t underestimate the length, especially if you intend on hanging the lights in a zigzag pattern. To help determine length, use a piece of string to map out where you plan on hanging your lights, then measure the string. Make sure to account for any “dips” you plan to include when you hang the lights.

You also may want to put your string lights on a timer, so they come on as the sun sets, signaling it’s time to wind down for the day.


Flameless white candle with dim yellow light on a wooden table. Add a soft glow with a flameless candle.
Comfy patio seating with lots of large pillows lit by a sim and cozy yellow light coming from two lanterns. Lanterns provide ambiance and a design element.
elevated patio with wooden deck seating and accent colorful pillows with overhanging light fixtures in yellow, pink and blue. Illuminate al fresco dining with pendant lights.
Vintage patio string lights  with blurred background and focus on dim lights Use string lights to bring on the magic.

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