Good Outdoor Lighting is the Secret to a Chic Backyard — Our Style Editor Picks Her Favorites

Even in the great outdoors, lighting is crucial to setting the mood. Whether you’re after sculptural wall sconces, coastal cool floor lamps, or elegant chandeliers, you’ve never seen outdoor lighting this good

best outdoor lighting
(Image credit: Pottery Barn)

Outdoor lighting might seem like an afterthought, but it's just as essential as the indoor variety. After all, you wouldn't furnish a home without adding lamps or chandeliers, so why not extend that commitment outside? Like indoor lighting, outdoor lighting has the power to completely transform the mood of a space. The right lighting can elevate an average backyard into a vibrant, inviting oasis — particularly crucial for any upcoming summer entertaining.

Just as we approach selecting the best outdoor furniture, we naturally desire our outdoor lighting to be equally practical and chic. According to interior designer Alessia Lamonaca, outdoor lighting should serve ‘as a statement piece that enhances the overall design aesthetic of your outdoor area.’ To that end, we're on the hunt for 'lights that feature sleek lines, geometric shapes, and unexpected textures to create visual interest.’ Think sculptural fixtures like modern sconces or minimalist lanterns ‘that command attention even when not illuminated’ in luxe materials such as brushed metal or weathered brass  — all of which add so much ‘depth to your outdoor lighting scheme.’

Whether you're illuminating your backyard dining setup or enhancing your home's curb appeal, finding the perfect outdoor lighting is essential. After consulting experts and carefully considering factors like quality, function, and style, here are my top 12 bright ideas.

Explore Livingetc’s favorite outdoor kitchen ideas for further inspiration.

Best Outdoor Lighting

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Determining where to place your outdoor lighting is as crucial as selecting the lights themselves. According to Rafi Friedman, President of Coastal Luxury Outdoors, a good starting point is to focus on the lights for your home, particularly those near your doors. ‘The light fixtures by your doors set the tone and style for the rest of your outdoor space,’ he advises, ‘and ultimately last longer than other outdoor lighting options.’ He recommends choosing lights that complement your home's trim and style, including details like your doorknobs, for a cohesive look.

For outdoor entertaining, Rafi recommends hanging string lights. They create a magical, cinematic atmosphere, defining outdoor gathering spaces and providing soft light well into the night, explains the CEO. However, he notes that it often takes more string lights than expected to properly illuminate a space. His rule of thumb is ‘one bulb for every four square feet you intend to light.’ For example, a 400 square foot patio would require approximately 100 lights.

If you have specific features in your outdoor space that you want to highlight, interior designer Artem Kropovinsky suggests using spotlights. ‘Try to emphasize the treasures of your garden, such as an old tree or a peaceful pond,’ he advises. ‘Illuminate the shadows and routes with the help of lights, therefore, making the outdoor space safe and magical.’

Transform your backyard into a luxurious retreat with these resort-style outdoor furniture picks — no travel required.

Style Editor

Formerly covering fashion at L’Officiel USA, style maven Julia Demer brings her love of design to Livingetc’s world of interiors. As the title’s Style Editor, Julia's work reflects a sharp eye for detail and an innate passion for aesthetics. Her journey began with a strong foundation in design, honing her craft at renowned establishments like The Row and even establishing her own eponymous fashion brand. Julia’s design background is evident in the way she thoughtfully curates shopping edits, always maintaining a focus on emerging trends while preserving timeless sensibilities. For Julia, fashion and interiors go hand in hand, reflecting her lifelong commitment to perfecting the art of style.