9 Ways to Add a Magical Mood with Outdoor Lighting
Check out these ideas to turn your garden or patio into a welcoming, enchanting space after dark
Some of the key principles of good lighting are: using light to lead your eye from one space to another; enhancing the structures and materials of the space around it, and helping to create different moods for different areas and uses. This home incorporates all of these, and has successfully connected the internal and external spaces.
The lighting was designed to take your eye through to the pool, highlighting the wonderful texture of the wooden cladding and the concrete spiral steps. The low-level lighting under the bench seating and washing across the steps creates an intimate atmosphere, and contrasts with the uplighting beneath the trees.
A key thing to remember with external lighting is that less is often more. To create mood lighting, you don’t want to go for full floodlights.
Here, simple spotlighting of the timber structure works because of the texture of the wooden slatting, and the way the light is reflected off the sail, which gives vertical interest. This is complemented by uplighting the shrubs on either side. The light ‘colour’ is warm and natural.
Be inspired by more outdoor structures like this one.
OK, so this particular setting might be slightly unrealistic, but we can learn something about lighting from it. Notice how the low-level, staggered lights draw your eye out, creating a sense of depth and intrigue.
Back in the UK (and back to reality), this pretty scheme puts the focus on the curving path and, above all, the exuberant foliage.
It works so well because the light sources are concealed, so you can’t quite tell exactly where the light’s coming from. It’s effective and restrained, and creates a slight sense of mystery.
Discover more about concealed lighting
You want lighting leading up to your front door to be warm and welcoming. A great way to achieve this is through layering your external lighting to lead your eye through and pick up the different textures.
Just remember to make sure all connections are completely watertight, and you’ll need to have IP67+ (an ingress protection rating) fittings for outside!
Look at more contemporary front doors like this one to see more lighting ideas.
Linear lighting is a good companion to the strong, geometric lines of a path. Underlighting this walkway makes it appear to ‘float’ at night, and would pick up the contrasting textures of the stones and grasses.
This would need to be planned in advance to make sure there’s enough space between the walkway and gravel, and the drivers are in a secure and accessible position.
See a beginner’s guide to LED lighting for more information on drivers
A great way to add lighting that’s not too in your face is to use the floor. These diodes are embedded into the deck behind a 25mm-deep diffuser to create an interesting effect. The wall-mounted spots provide a bit more practical light for BBQs and dinner parties, plus they highlight the foliage. The scheme as is lots of fun for an evening of entertaining!
Backlighting opaque panels is a great way to get softer and more diffused lighting into your garden. You could even go for different colours if you want to make it really interesting.
There’s an increasing number of brands making ‘decorative’ fittings (table lamps, floor lamps, chandeliers) that can be used outside.
This fun garden has quirky lighting to go with it, much like the Mad Hatter’s tea party. I love the chandelier suspended over the table, and the multiple mirrors will create all sorts of interesting reflections.
Do you have any external lighting in your garden? Share your advice and photos in the Comments below.