Warm Up the Outdoors

BY JULIA HASKINS ON APRIL 29TH, 2016

You may have picture-perfect patio furniture or a gorgeous garden bed, but no outdoor living space is complete without the right lighting and heating accents.

Brightening things up can completely transform your environment. From fire pits to Tiki torches and lanterns to LED lights, there’s no end to the ways that you can bring more warmth and light to your backyard.

Ready to warm up to the latest trends in outdoor lighting and heating fixtures? Follow these tips to light up and bring the heat to your outdoor living space.

 

Gather ‘Round the Fire

There’s nothing like the warmth of a fire to instantly bring people together.

“The reason why people go camping is so that you can sit around a fire and look at other human beings in the eye,” says Paul LaFrance, HGTV star and spokesperson for Trex, a composite decking manufacturer. “You’re creating outdoor conversation rooms. The lighting sets the stage.”

Even when the weather cools down, an outdoor heating fixture ensures that you’ll always have a way to heat things up. Bring the warmth of a cozy hearth to your backyard with an outdoor fireplace or firepit. They make a perfect centerpiece for drinks and conversation, roasting s’mores, or just wrapping up in blankets and basking in the glow.

If you love eating al fresco, consider a fire table to liven up your dining experience. A fire table is an elegant, an all-in-one fixture that can serve as a piece of art in and of itself or as the setting to cook and enjoy a full-course meal. Fire tables look beautiful as is with simple marble, stone or granite surfaces, but can be dressed up with colored glass or stones around the perimeter.

And you don’t need roaring flames to evoke a sense of warmth. Small lanterns or delicate tea lights are perfect for tabletops and give off a soft, pleasant glow.

 

Light the Way

Lighting is all about creating a mood, whether you want your space to be dramatic, intimate or calming. The key to achieving the right ambience lies in the set-up.

“How we light the approach on paths and driveways builds anticipation of the encounter with the building and reinforces the sense of place,” says Robert Sonneman, founder of SONNEMAN – A Way of Light, a lighting design company.

When hosting guests, lighting can be used to signal all of the festivities to come. Set up lanterns near your driveway to usher in partygoers, or illuminate a grassy picnic area with a queue of glowing Tiki torches.

Think of lighting as an extension of the natural elements in your outdoor space. Whatever fixtures you choose should complement the overall scenery.

“The site conditions, foliage and other natural conditions like water and rock formations offer perfect opportunities to set the mood and tone of the experience by the manner in which we light them,” Sonneman says.

If you have a deck or patio, LED lights are the way to go. LaFrance recommends these lights for their low cost, low voltage and functionality. LED lights are also incredibly durable, meaning they can be used year-round.

Use LED rope lighting underneath railings or install individual lights in staircase risers. They’re especially useful for entryways that may become more difficult to navigate as the sun goes down. And if you have little ones running around or are balancing a tray of appetizers while walking down the stairs, a little more illumination is always welcome.

 

Add the Finishing Touch

Want to give your outdoor space a festive touch? Just look up. Lanterns, hanging lights and other fixtures strung from above make any environment more interesting and give you the opportunity to let your creative side shine.

Start with the basics: Simple and versatile, string lights add a charming touch to any outdoor space.

“In years past, all that was available was the type used on Christmas trees and during the holidays. But today the options are unlimited,” says Dina Gibbons, home and design expert for Rubberecycle, Lakewood, New Jersey.

Experiment with different colors and textures and for an eclectic look. Gibbons encourages homeowners to mix and match styles and play with the placement of lights. Drape colored lights from a pergola or wrap fairy lights around tree branches. And don’t be afraid to go bold by stacking lights for a more dramatic effect.

“If you layer the different types of lights that you’re using, your outdoor space almost becomes a room. It just adds to that sort of intimate atmosphere,” says Sacha Nizami, founder of Sacha Nizami Design, Toronto, Ontario.

She notes that you can get a similar impact with layers of paper lanterns, another low-cost option with high impact. Going for a more rustic aesthetic? Use mason jars for miniature lanterns.

Gibbons is a fan of unique fixtures like vintage chandeliers, which can be found at consignment shops and antique stores. Restore old pieces with a fresh coat of outdoor spray paint and replace the bulbs with LED lights. Hang from a gazebo for a modern twist on a classic style.

 

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