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Ideas and Inspiration

Jun 27, 2018


DIY Outdoor Lighting Design for Your Summer Party

Troy Lighting Bostonian Outdoor Hanging Lantern | Capitol Lighting

Barbecues, vacations, flying off rope swings: these are a few of your favorite things. Summer and happiness go hand in hand, making it pretty easy to get excited about the season. Of all the joys summer weather brings, hosting friends on a warm evening ranks near the top. If you want to get the most out of your yard and wow your visitors, a contemporary outdoor lighting design can create the perfect ambiance to keep your party rocking well after the sun has set.

With so many fantastic DIY outdoor lighting design options available, you have the power to make this year’s summer bash the best one you’ve ever thrown. Here are some helpful tips on how to get the perfect setup, as well as some examples of which lights will deliver the best results.

Where Should Your Light Shine?

The fanciest light in the world still needs to be set in the appropriate spot. Placement is important, and these are the areas to target for your outdoor lighting design.

Sonneman Triform Compact Energy Smart Bollard | Capitol Lighting


Quality exterior lighting should always have an element of practicality, and guests will have a lot more fun at your summer shindig if they feel safe walking the grounds near the pathway and driveway. When illuminating pathways, you want outdoor lighting fixtures that accent without overpowering. Focus on the diffuser and lighting texture instead of getting too caught up in how much wattage you can deliver. Walkways do well with inlaid bulbs and subtle fixtures that line the area – it all depends on your taste and landscaping.

Dining Area

After the food comes off the grill, people need a place where they can see what they’re eating. Exterior ceiling light fixtures will brighten a general section of your patio while highlighting a defined space. This option also provides a nice opportunity to use a statement piece, such as an outdoor chandelier. If the headspace above your table could use a makeover, go with a fixture that delivers some aesthetic appeal in addition to useful downlighting.


Installing lights that accentuate your surrounding yard accomplishes a few things. First, you establish a visual perimeter that serves as a landscape lighting guide for partygoers. Second, you can accent parts of your yard deserving of a little dazzle. While your outdoor ceiling lights might need to cover high-traffic areas, an elegant pendant can light the branches in your favorite tree or show the edge of your garden. A little bit of brightness can do a lot to decorate and promote the boundaries of your backyard.

Justice Design | Porcelina Outdoor Wall Light | Capitol Lighting

Which Type of Lighting Gets the Job Done?

Attention to detail turns a fun gathering into a party your friends will be talking about for years to come. For your DIY outdoor lighting to really make a splash, you need to be purposeful with what type of lighting you choose.

General Lighting

When you walk into your house and flip a switch, you’re beckoning some general light to help you move about. Providing widespread lighting poses a bit of a conundrum in an outdoor area, as you only have so much ceiling and wall space to work with. Consider wall sconces near entryways and flush mounts where people tend to congregate. The right outdoor lights can help you establish broad areas in your yard for games, eating, drinking and all the other things your guests will want to partake in.

Task Lighting

If there’s a certain place visitors need to walk or look, task lighting has to be present. Bollard and path lights help people move confidently through your yard, while floodlights offer directional focus that can meet a variety of needs. The right task lights will enhance decks, steps and any other space where safety might be a concern. If you’re planning to host frequent cookouts over the summer, make sure you have lighting fixtures that allow you to do the job right.

Accent Lighting

Any light can help you see, but not every light can improve the area you’re looking at. If that sounds contradictory, you clearly haven’t been to a party with a modern outdoor lighting setup. In addition to chandeliers hanging over dining tables, you can adorn your exterior with pendants, table lamps, subtle floor lighting and so much more. How you accent is the most creative and enjoyable part of lighting your outdoor space, so be original and give your yard some style.

Which Lights Will Do the Trick?

Once you know which areas you want to light, you need to figure out which lights are up to the task.

1. Walkway – Sonneman Triform Compact Energy Smart Bollard

Sonneman Triform Compact Energy Smart Bollard - 7322.74-WL | Capitol Lighting

A task light with lots of accenting appeal. The textured frame looks excellent in a contemporary yard, while the slender build won’t overwhelm your narrow paths. Energy efficiency is always a plus, and this is especially true with walkway lights that get frequent use. The Triform Compact Bollard features cool LED light, delivering great visibility through an efficient, classy structure.

2. Dining Area – Troy Lighting Bostonian Outdoor Hanging Lantern

Troy Lighting Bostonian Outdoor Hanging Lantern - F5097HB | Capitol Lighting

As mentioned previously, it’s a good move to use outdoor hanging lights as statement pieces above your eating stations. The Bostonian Outdoor Hanging Lantern by Troy Lighting has a beautiful frame, an impressive glass shade and just the right amount of lighting coming down from a 60-watt incandescent bulb. The lantern adds visibility and style where you need it most, providing rustic outdoor lighting your guests will appreciate when it’s time to chow down.

3. Perimeter – Justice Design Porcelina Outdoor Wall Light

Justice Design | Porcelina Outdoor Wall Light - PNA-8644W-PLET-DBRZ | Capitol Lighting

For the right amount of lighting around the edges of your yard, a good wall sconce goes a long way. The Porcelina Outdoor Wall Light uses a faux porcelain shade to diffuse a soft LED glow, providing general lighting as it’s needed. The thin frame accents the shade without becoming too bulky, giving the piece some modern appeal to go with its functionality. Improved visibility almost feels like an added bonus after you take in the stylish body of this exterior sconce.

Set Your Visuals and Bring on the Visitors

You know you want to take advantage of your yard before the weather turns, but you need to make sure your setup is ready to go before you start sending out invites. So much can be accomplished with DIY outdoor lighting and there are so many great wall and ceiling light fixtures for you to choose from. Spend some time thinking about the layout of your yard and decide which areas you want to target, then find the lighting options that meet your needs. After the perfect lights have been purchased and placed, the summer gatherings can begin.