There’s no time like fall to move the party outside. Cooler temperatures and shorter days beg for a cozy outdoor gathering, as do the comfortable furniture, chic decor and new lighting styles that help you stay outside longer. Amenities like tiled walls, outdoor kitchens and amplified WiFi that used to be luxuries are now seamlessly integrated into outdoor rooms as they evolve into well-equipped extensions of indoor living spaces.
Whether you’ve planned a sunset viewing party or are simply extending an outdoor gathering from day to night, make sure your party is adequately lit. Not only does the right lighting create the perfect warm ambiance, but it also provides much-needed safety at night.
Here are some tips on designing the perfect lighting for any outdoor space.
1. Don’t rely on one overhead light.
Using just one overhead fixture offers little control over the mood of the area. Instead, just as we recommend inside the home, layer the light outside, too. Use multiple sources of light to provide task and general lighting. Choose fixtures that work well together stylistically for a cohesive look and the best visual impact.
New, outdoor-rated pendant lighting styles are one of the trendiest ways to elevate your outdoor room. Install them over dining tables or seating areas, and make sure to put them on a dimmer to easily control light levels as the sun sets.
Botta | Image: Schumacher Homes
2. Use ceiling fans to provide year-round comfort.
Ceiling fans are practically an outdoor room staple. In the summer or warm weather climates, fans provide cooling breezes. And in the winter, simply reverse the fan’s rotation clockwise so that it pulls cool air up, displacing and drawing down the warm air that rises and collects near the ceiling. In addition, many ceiling fans have dimmable lights integrated into their design, offering an additional general light source.
3. Make sure lighting fixtures and fans are rated for outdoor use.
One of the most important things to keep in mind when selecting fixtures for outdoor areas is they must be damp or wet rated. Damp-rated lights are designed to withstand moist environments, specifically where condensation may build up in and around the fixture. Damp rated fixtures are designed to withstand moisture but not direct contact with the elements. Use them in covered areas, such as a porch, or inside the home in bathrooms or other rooms where water may be present.
Wet location-rated light fixtures are designed to be used in places that have direct exposure to water. They do not have to be placed in a covered area. Landscape lighting like path and post lights must be wet rated. Wet rated lighting is also found inside the house, in the shower for example.