The Stylish DIY That Brings Light & Charm To Your Outdoor Space On Summer Nights

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Deciding on the right lighting ideas that will brighten up your deck or patio al fresco dining table is challenging. Since you're dealing with the outdoors and all the extremes that come with it (wind, rain, snow, hail ...), you need ideas that are as tough as they are aesthetically pleasing. This lighting DIY is easy, but relies on a combination of specific factors to work properly. One, you need to have an open-air patio gazebo or overhanging lightly leafed tree. Two, you have to select light shades that, conversely, let as much light in as possible. Three, you need solar bulbs fitted with sunlight-collecting panels that are durable enough to handle being outdoors in all weather.

Pendant lights in outdoor spaces are trending in 2024. They help continue the enduring open plan living kitchen-dining-lounge combination of your indoor space outside and, frankly, make an often thrown-together area look cohesive, expensive, and, perhaps most importantly, somewhere you want to spend a lot of time in. Since the light is directed pointedly downward, this type of light is best used as task or accent lighting — adding a touch of drama and inviting warmth to a patio dining table, out-of-doors reading nook, or outside kitchen. Here's the best bit, though: You'll never need to work out how to easily clean hard-to-reach outdoor light fixtures ever again. Simply unhook the cords and remove the bulb from the shade when you want to wipe or wash either fixture.

Going shopping: Outdoor solar bulbs and rattan light shades

To craft this brilliant way to provide lighting along your patio, you need bulbs with hooks. Look for 250- to 400-lumen LED bulbs; they're bright enough to see your food without glaring in your eyes. Consider, too, the color temperature. Since cozy intimacy is the vibe, choose warm color temperatures: 2,000K to 3,000K. LED lighting is also the most energy-efficient option. Amazon sells a six-pack of glittery and waterproof solar bulbs for under $25. Get two bulbs with a separate rather than built-in solar panel for just over $20 from Walmart. You'll need to take them down and charge them from time to time. With solar-powered bulbs, there's no need to pay an electrician. In fact, outside of hanging the shade, there are no cords at all.

Size matters when it comes to the light shade itself. Typically, if you're lighting a small outdoor space with compact furniture, large fixtures may prove overwhelming. And vice versa, shades that are too small for a large space will simply get lost. For example, Wayfair sells an oval bamboo pendant shade by Bay Isle Home for about $63. Or get a rotund yet airy light brown rattan dome shade from Bed Bath and Beyond for just over $45. Woven or wicker lamp shades are made from natural fibers, which may shed from the frame over time. At least you won't have to worry about these biodegradable fibers polluting your garden!

It's time to craft your cozy new outdoor dining pendant lights

Thread the bulb, panel and hook facing up, through the ring at the center of your lampshade. The lampshade is designed to fit a bulb, so they should fit together comfortably with the hook sticking up through the ring. Measure how far above your outdoor dining table you want your lights to hang — a design rule of thumb is leaving 30 to 36 inches between the tabletop and the bottom of the shade. Once you have that measurement, measure from there to whatever your pendant will hang from. Cut a length of sturdy rope or twine in a similar color to your light shade, tie it securely to the bulb hook, and hang your new outdoor pendant light.

This method is so simple that you're truly only limited by your imagination when it comes to modifications. Paint the shade using outdoor paint to match your existing patio decor or color scheme. Test out different lampshade materials — metal, polycarbonate, and plastic are all weatherproof, depending on how they're finished. We like the HORRED black metal pendant lamp shade, under $30 at IKEA. Plastic rattan-look shades would undeniably be more weatherproof, if less eco-friendly than their plant-based counterparts. You could also vary the bulb style and color — Wayfair sells a set of four 10-inch-long multicolored solar-powered LED bubble stick lights by Exhart for just over $35 — and switch up the twine for metal chain link or brightly colored plastic-coated wire.