If you’ve just overhauled the interior of your house, chances are you’d like to bring your outdoor spaces up to scratch, too. One good place to start is the many new lighting options that add weatherproof style and ambience to entertaining areas.

“The trend towards expanding outdoor living space has been growing for some time now,” says Richard Lentz, president of Lentz Landscape Lighting in Dallas, Texas. “In past years, our goal was focused on lighting the space and showing off the garden. Now we’re concentrating a lot more effort on finding innovative ways to light outdoor spaces so they can be used at night, much like they’re used during the day.”

Backyard decks no longer just have a small light near the door. Lentz says lighting designers are now installing down lights in trees and attaching them to chimneys to shine light down on the space. “We’re also putting in a lot of step lights to make the transition from the upper to lower level easier,” says Lentz, who adds that people no longer have to feel like they’re under a spotlight when they sit outside under the stars.

And when it comes to lighting outdoor kitchens, innovation is key. “We do a lot of task lighting in the outdoor kitchen,” says Lentz. “We’ll utilize the arbors to hang task lighting over the sink, the grill and the table, for example, and put them on dimmers so when the light isn’t needed, it can be turned down.”

Lentz credits the recent innovations offered by various lighting manufacturers for making those projects possible. “Technology sure has come a long way in a short amount of time,” he says.
Joe Rey-Barreau, an education consultant for the American Lighting Association, agrees. “Manufacturers realize there’s a growing market for outdoor fixtures and they have responded by stepping up to the challenge to develop chandeliers, table lamps and sconces that are rated for wet conditions so they can be safely installed outdoors,” he says.