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Make garden parties last longer with our guide to the best outdoor lighting

We reveal the best outdoor lights for everywhere, from your garden to your front door, and what to know before you buy

exterior lighting
John Cullen

Garden party season is going to be bigger than ever this year. And nobody wants the long-awaited celebrations to end when the sun goes down. To keep the fun lasting long into the evening, you need the perfect outdoor lighting solutions.

Whether you are looking to create a subtle, atmospheric glow or add task lighting for everywhere from a barbecue area to the front door and porch, we have selected the brands that can help. Plus, we answer all the important questions to help you make the right choice…

What should I consider when choosing outdoor lights?

Think about the direction, volume and intensity of light. ‘It’s important to consider both the function and the aesthetic of your lighting,’ says James Bassant, design director at Astro Lighting.

‘A light by the front door is there for illumination – so that you can find your keys easily, and for security reasons– but it is also a great opportunity to create visual drama at night.

Think of your garden as another room and apply as much creativity as you would to any other space in your home by getting the balance right between darkness and layers of light.’

What effects can different garden lights create?

Set the scene with a decorative wall light that suits the style of your home, or select a more architectural look with a wall-mounted uplight or downlight. ‘If choosing a decorative lantern with a visible light source, ensure it has a filament bulb that can be dimmed. Otherwise, it will become a glaring eyesore,’ says Sally Storey, creative director of John Cullen Lighting. ‘If there is no room for wall lights, use up lights on either side of the door to frame your entrance.’

Think of your garden as another room and apply as much creativity as you would to any other space

Which lights are best for illuminating steps, a wall or a path?

‘A wash of light on to the façade creates a softer look,’ continues Storey. ‘Choose low-level floor washer lights recessed into the walls or steps to create a gentle glow across a path. Alternatively, for a more dramatic look, use uplights tucked into the corner of a step to skim light across it.’

What do I need to think about before installation?

Check products have the correct IP44 rating for use outdoors and hire a qualified electrician to install them. ‘Electrical fittings will quickly fail outdoors unless they are properly channelled and insulated,’ says Peter Legg, lead designer at Där Lighting.

‘You will need to run cables to the location where you want to position your lights. It’s good to determine this first, as getting power to your perfect spot will form part of your project costs.’

7 of the best outdoor lights

We introduce the garden lighting brands to know and our top pick from each expert

Best for reproduction antique lights

This Pimlico-based company specialises in antique-style decorative lighting, with more than 100 lanterns in various finishes, including brass, bronze and the antiqued verdigris effect. jamb.co.uk

exterior lighting
‘Boswell’ wall light, Jamb
John Hammond

Best for the architectural look
Martinelli Luce

The go-to brand for architectural lighting for both inside and out. This Italian brand offers forward-thinking designs in cutting-edge materials. martinelliluce.com

exterior lighting
‘Frog’ spotlight, approx £307, Martinelli Luce
Martinelli Luce

Best for big-name lighting designers
Holloways of Ludlow

As well as stocking more than 70 major brands, such as Davey Lighting and Flos, this retailer’s own ‘Old School Electric’ range features industrial-style designs. hollowaysofludlow.com

exterior lighting
‘Borders’ light, £82.50, Holloways of Ludlow
Joseph Summerfield-Brookes

Best for LED lights
John Cullen Lighting

Choose from spotlights, uplights, downlights, step lights, hanging and wall-mounted exterior lights – all using durable, low-maintenance LEDs– at this lighting design brand, which also offers a bespoke service. johncullenlighting.com

exterior lighting
‘Mesh’ wall light, £215, John Cullen Lighting
John Cullen

Best for contemporary designs
Astro Lighting

A British lighting designer and manufacturer with a large collection of exterior lights, ranging from brass wall lights to modern, minimalist styles. Stockists include John Lewis & Partners and The Conran Shop. astrolighting.com

exterior lighting
‘Jura Spike Spot’, £200, Astro Lighting
Astro Lighting

Best for wall-mounted outdoor lights
Där Lighting

The range of wall lights at this supplier are a combination of in-house designs and world wide sourcing. darlighting.co.uk

exterior lighting
‘Notary’ rectangle wall bracket light in stainless steel, £132, Där Lighting
Dar Lighting

Best for outdoor versions of design classics
The Conran Shop

Offering a brilliant selection of design classics, portable and wall-mounted lighting options. This store also stocks many exterior versions of beloved interior lights. conranshop.co.uk

exterior lighting
‘Bellhop’ wall light by Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby for Flos, £385, The Conran Shop
Michele Branca Piero Fasanotto

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