Outdoor Decor: Elegant Deck Lighting Options

deck lighting bistro lights
Bistro Lighting

For some homeowners, the backyard is a simple space for the kids to get out from underfoot and play with the dog for awhile. Gotta cut back on that screen time and get some sunlight, for goodness sake! Perhaps all the attention it gets is an occasional lawn mowing when you realize you can scarcely see your 5 year old behind the 3 foot tall dandelions. 

If that’s you, we don’t judge. Everyone’s home and yard should meet their needs and function as they see fit. But for some of us, our outdoor space is something we feel passionate about.  Something we enjoy cultivating and beautifying. It’s a labor of love and a place we want to spend time in. 

Your backyard deck is absolutely an extension of both your home and your outdoor landscape. It’s that lovely middle ground where you’re at once outside and still in a room of sorts. It should be a cozy space you can enjoy no matter the season or time of day. 

In fact, the evenings and nighttime can be magical on the back deck, if you have the right decking materials.  This is why we looked into popular deck lighting ideas so we could share some of our favorites. 

Recessed Lighting

When it comes to outdoor lighting, recessed simply means that the light source is “tucked in” in some way. That is, it isn’t hanging overhead or attached to an obvious fixture like a lamp. 

Recessed lighting can be placed beneath railing or stair steps, or even in a simple path along the wall. It’s a great method of blending light into your decor, in a way that enhances both safety and ambience.

recessed deck lighting
Recessed Lights in Wooden Deck
  • These recessed LED deck kits require a bit of handywork, as they are meant to be fully “implanted” into walls and stairwells. If you’re up for the job, their subtle glow is your answer. Once you’ve drilled the holes to place the fixtures, you can enjoy the simple beams of light that blend perfectly into your deck’s overall architecture.    
  • If you aren’t in the mood for a construction project, these recessed lamps provide the same gentle downlighting you would find in a fancy theatre. The small round fixtures are hooded, which points the light downward in a way that offers soft ground lighting for safe footing and an intimate setting.
  • For something truly fancy, high-tech, and thoroughly weather-resistant, you need to check out these WIFI deck lights and all of their features. Not only are they waterproof- and therefore safe for pool decks- you can adjust them with voice control, timers, or by remote control.


Whether they’re hanging from the eave or fixed to a post, lanterns give your deck a more “classic” look. These days, they come in a variety of styles and sizes to accommodate your outdoor decorating motif. 

fence mounted lanterns
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  • These fence post lanterns simply mount to the top of any wall or enclosure, creating a pleasant perimeter of indirect lighting. The LED fixtures can be set to either “warm” or multi-colored lighting, making them a great addition to both holiday-themed and everyday decor. 
  • Post lights provide a traditional lantern-shaped top-off for posts around your deck and garden. These attractive lights fit 4”x4” or 6”x6” posts, making them an attractive accent for outdoor stair rails and decks with exposed vertical posts. 
  • If you don’t mind a bit of handywork, these simple wall-mounted lanterns are both powerful as a light source, yet understated as a fixture. They’re hardwired, so you’ll need to drill holes into the posts or beams you hang them from, and make sure your outdoor wiring is sufficient. 

String Lights

patio string lightsString lighting is an easy favorite for outdoor lighting, both due to its simplicity and its festive appearance. Gone are the days of repurposing Christmas lights, as we now have a diversity of fun and attractive options. 

  • Globe lights, often referred to as “bistro lighting,” have practically become the default for deck and patio lighting. Larger and brighter than the bulbs you’d find on a string of Christmas lights, these strands can be draped along your deck’s ceiling, or simply hung along the posts for a vertical appeal. 
  • Similar to globe lights, curtain lights offer the same twinkling cascade of lights, but designed a bit differently. Their strands are connected in away that allows you to drape them along the outer edges of your deck, literally creating a vertical curtain of lights.   
  • Rope lights are a super-safe and cheerful alternative to exposed bulbs, especially if you’ve got outdoor pets. They are encased in a clear tube, and can be used as ground lighting, overhead lighting, or strung along your deck’s perimeters.   

Final Thoughts

No matter which style you go for, new deck lighting can bring your outdoor space to the next level.

If it’s time for a full makeover and you’ve decided you need to use sturdier, longer lasting material for your deck surface, consider using ipe wood.


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