A few months ago, in July of 2016, Tim McKeough wrote an article entitled “Outdoor Decor: A Checklist”. In this article he includes a section on the importance of incorporating outdoor lighting into your outdoor space.
He mentions incorporating some ambient lighting the outdoor space, using low-voltage landscaping options, working in fun planters and going with an affordable glob string of lights, which is a cost effective alternative to any outdoor lighting option.
The best part, he says, is that a simple string of lights looks surprisingly high end.
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Mason jar lighting
1. Solar powered mason jars
A single glass jar, a simple piece of metal wire and a solar powered lid. That’s all you’ll need to make this simple yet sophisticated set of outdoor lights.
This is an easy outdoor lighting project to do as it takes little time and requires few resources. It’s affordable and all-things-environment.
2. Colorful mason jar lights
Glue, tiny triangles of tissue paper and a tiny tea light will make this jar glow a thousand colors and brighten up your outdoor space. This is an easy and straightforward DIY project that is fun for all ages and great for playful or colorful outdoor seating spaces.
3. Vintage pendant lights
Choose any vintage jar and put a bulb in it. It’s that simple. If you like the jar or the glass bottle then you should turn it into something even more beautiful; that’s the basic concept here. Variety is the key when it comes to making this eclectic lighting option work well.
Choose a variety of different styles, shapes, sizes and colors. Vintage was never meant to fit in. This arrangement should make a statement and it should turn heads. Trust us, it will when all of the oddness comes together in all of the right ways.
Rural and rustic lighting
First, let’s look at some options for rural lighting. If you want to bring the city to your backyard considering tackling a small version of skyscrapers that light up the night.
4. Cityscape luminaries
This is a super fun and creative way to light up the backyard on a nice clear night without rain. It is also a lot quicker than you might think. Those tiny little windows aren’t made from scissors and your hands, they’re done with a simple stamp that you can purchase. Bring your favorite city to your backyard with this city showcase.
And now for two more rustic and rugged lighting options. These next two options are great for the country, for modern spaces or for simplistic spaces. Their simplicity is precisely their beauty.
5. DIY citronella candles
This DIY citronella candle is a classic way to keep the bugs at bay and enjoy a simple beauty on summer nights. It’s also super easy to make your own candles. Personally, I think one of the best things about making your own candles is that you can control what ingredients you put into them.
Add oils to create an essence of aromatherapy (like citronella, which actually energizes you as it keeps bugs away) and choose your type of wax. We recommend beeswax, by the way, because it is one of the only waxes that actually purifies the air while it burns as opposed to contaminating it.
6. Coffee and candles
This is one of my favorite lighting options. When coffee and candles come together you’ve got a good match.
If you decide to use the big tin coffee cans then you’re in luck because they’re usually quite cheap. This is a great look for more rustic or modern settings.
Fun, flavorful and bright
7. Votives in color
Colorful glass bottles, votives and metal. This outdoor lighting idea is easy, beautiful and sophisticated. Hang the glasses from a tree, decorate the table or seating are with them or set them on the windowsills.
This lighting idea can hold its own if you are wanting a minimalistic outdoor style but also complements other lighting ideas nicely.
8. Birthday hat lights
Planning an outdoor birthday party? Spice it up and tie in the party theme with this fun DIY string of birthday hat lighting. When the party is over take it inside and use it in the house or save it for next year.
To avoid being too specific choose a neutral color that can be used over and over. If nothing else you’ll be getting the most for your money.
9. Cupcakes live in trees (if only for the night)
This is a craft you’ll want to do in great company. It’s a fun way to repurpose and use cupcake tin liners and it is super affordable. You can buy a pack of 65 liners for $0.99.
Grab an xacto knife, hop on over to these simple directions and get to it! You might have to set aside a few liners, whip up a batch of muffins or your favorite kind of cupcake and throw a batch of them in the oven while you’re at it.
10. Tin can lanterns
These tin cans are a fun (and simple!) project for the entire family. They’re also a great use of a product that would otherwise be thrown out.
For a step-by-step process check out this informative tutorial on Youtube. This video is great to show to your kids and it will quickly empower them to feel like they can do this project themselves!
11. Tibetan paper bag lights
These bags are beautiful, artsy, creative and resemble a bit of Nepal. They’ve got that dragon tail goodness, bright cheerfulness and a jaw-dropping appearance for some fairly simple work.
They’re a fun craft for the family or serve as a great group project for a rainy afternoon. Choose bright colors if you want to go for a “wow” effect; if you’re looking for something more tranquil and want to create a soothing or relaxing effect choose a lighter tone like cream, light gray or blush pink.
Mix and match the bags or go monotone. Either way, we know it will look great.
Unique, rare and playful lighting
12. Badminton lights
This project is unique and would not only make some fun and playful outdoor lighting edition but it would also make a great gift.
All you need for this project is 30 minutes, a sharp tool, a strand of lights and a few badminton shuttlecocks. If you’re a badminton player this original lighting idea gets cooler by the second.
13. The cyclists chandelier
Spice up your outdoor dining area with this cyclists chandelier. Eat under the wheels that have always been under you and invite some friends over for dinner. This is a great conversation starter and will inspire creative conversations all night long.
It may even inspire some of your friends to take up a new hobby or try something of their own. This tire is available for order and is hand made and shipped from Cairo, Egypt.
We’re not saying you have to order it but it’s always an option if you’re not keen on trying out your hand at a fun DIY project.
Classic, chic and elegant lighting
14. Forest of fireflies
String lights are not just for the holidays. They are not just for tree tops and they are not just for decorating the shrubs towards the front of the house.
When wrapped around the bases of trees, especially in groups of 3 or more, they create an illusion of fireflies dancing in the forest at night. On a hot summer night this is enchanting, breathtaking and delightful to be around.
15. Hanging candlelit lanterns
These candlelit lanterns are a modern glance into an ancient world of lighting. Lanterns do more than just light up a space, they invite people to tell stories because they take us back to a time when people would linger by the light of lit candles at night.
They create a gentle glow and emit warmth. Hanging a few of these in a green area of your garden
16. Classy and charming hanging lights
This one is up there with our favorites. Really. If you want to set the mood for a romantic dinner, plan an elegant proposal or simply enjoy a bottle of wine under the stars with these romantic and charming lights, then this is the way to do it.
This is one of the pricier options, of course, because you’ve got a lot of lights working for you, however, we think it’s worth it and you can enjoy it for more than just a few months. It’s a great year round set up.
17. Classy wooden outdoor lights fire
Can’t technically have a fire within the city limits? Want to create a nice vibe and a special feel for you, your significant other and your guests?
This is a tranquil and low maintenance way to sit around a fireplace and enjoy each others company. Fire places are mostly good for gathering people into a common space and for creating space to share stories anyways.
Who needs fire when you have eternal flames of lights?
18. Hanging Japanese battery powered lanterns
These lanterns are a classic and fun way of lighting up your outdoor space. We think they look the best in groups of 3 or more and when they’re staggered at different levels.
Grab an extension cord and hang them high up the trees for some incredible aesthetics or keep them eye level for practical lighting purposes. Either way these lanterns will create a nice environment for you to sit back and relax in.
Quirky, trendy and fabulous
19. DIY Succulent Chandelier
This is a great outdoor lighting accent but we don’t think it should stand alone. String some lights above it or utilize those mason jars ideas but don’t leave this one hanging (solo). Succulents are a great addition to an outdoor living space because they are very low maintenance.
They require water once week to every other week and can live off of air. It doesn’t get much easier than that. Throw some tealights into a mason jar, set it all on a shelf and voila! A simple but beautiful aesthetic is yours for the having.
20. Funky fabric lamps
Fabric lamps are brilliant creations to reduce, reuse and recycle old clothing, fabric scraps or your favorite thrift store prints. These lamps look best with a variety of different fabric colors and textures.
Be bold with this one and mix and match the funkiest prints. You’ll be surprised at how well they go together! It’s a fairly simple DIY project and the list of what you’ll need to accomplish the project is quite straightforward.
21. Lucky tiki torches
This artist used Lucky Buddha beer bottles for her project but you can really use any old (or new) bottle that you have sitting around the house. This is a modern day edition of the old school oil lamps.
All you will need is some tiki torch fuel, a few bottles, replacement wicks and some copper coupling. When a DIY project is that easy and looks that cool how can you say no?
Light Up Your Backyard or Garden Today!
There are endless ways to create a beautiful environment with some fun outdoor lighting. Whether you’re looking for something classy, quirky or colorful, you’ve got options and we’ve given you all of the best options out there.
Perhaps you’re not ready to tackle any DYI outdoor lighting projects. That’s okay! We know we’ve given you a lot of options and that you’re quite busy.
Creating a unique and inviting outdoor space with one or two original lighting ideas is a great place to begin. And you can always buy the first bit of decor and dive into more details later.