Well chosen and subtly positioned outdoor lights can make or break your outside space and patio area. You don’t want spotlights shining in your face like you’re being interrogated – but equally you want to be able to see what’s cooking on your BBQ. There’s also a huge range of styles to choose from – so which ones are still trendy and which ones aren’t?
Outdoor wall lights are definitely still fashionable. They come in such a broad variety of styles, colors and build materials that they never really go out of fashion. Choose a style you like that fits the design vocabulary of your outside space and you can’t go wrong.
Join me as we look at some of the most common styles of outdoor lights available – and discover whether they’re in or out of fashion at the moment (or never stopped being popular).
Are Outdoor Wall Lights Old Fashioned?
For those of us who love dining outdoors, outdoor lights are a must. They let us extend our al fresco meals into the evening, as well as making winter outdoor life possible. We love our outdoor lighting, and would be lost without it.
Once upon a time, the main way to light up your patio or porch was by wiring fixed lights into your walls. These days, our stores are full of string lights, solar-powered lanterns, chandeliers for gazebos… Has the simple wall light become old-fashioned?
We’d definitely disagree. Wall lights are an excellent way of creating ambient or focused lighting outdoors, and because they are wired in, they provide a reliable source of light. If you love the look of the latest string lights, there’s no reason at all why you can’t have both.
There are also lots of fabulous designs of wall lights. A few years ago, the choice was limited to traditional lantern looks or plain, utilitarian styles. Now, you can choose from a wide selection of stylish designs.
Are Outdoor Wall Sconces Out of Style?
Although often associated with traditional lantern styles, outdoor wall sconces are never out of style. There’s a great choice of modern designs available, made from fashionable materials like stainless steel and copper, as well as vibrant colors. We’ll take a closer look at the latest designs in a moment.
A real classic style is to have a lantern either side of your front door, and this is a look that will never go out of fashion. This works well with a traditional-looking doorway with a portico, and adds tremendous curb appeal to your home (as well as providing a handy outdoor light.
If you have a front porch or veranda, have a row of wall sconces between the windows and door for a real inviting effect. As well as casting a welcoming glow, this means your porch will easily transform into an additional seating area on warm summer evenings.
For a dining patio, again, a row of wall-mounted sconces close to the deck creates a warm, ambient light that’s handy for the outdoor chef as well as the diners.
One of the reasons wall sconces may have fallen out of favor is that they are trickier to install than the latest solar-powered lights. It’s true: unless you already have the wiring in place, fitting an outdoor wall sconce is a job for a professional. If you are replacing an existing light, it’s straightforward; however if you want a fixed outdoor light in a new place, you’ll need to engage an expert.
The benefits? You’ll have a permanent and reliable light at the flick of an indoor switch. Unlike solar-powered lights, it’s a constant source of light and isn’t dependent upon good weather to work.
What Color Outdoor Light Fixtures Are in Style?
As yards become increasingly adopted as an extra “outdoor room”, unsurprisingly, we’re becoming more selective with our outdoor furnishings. Light fixtures are no exception, and the latest wall sconces come in a fabulous array of colors.
Black will always be a fashionable choice for outdoor wall lights, because it’s smart, timeless, and won’t interfere with your other color schemes. Durable black plastic is a good, solid choice for sconces on a budget, or upgrade to a matt-painted, cast-metal lantern.
Metallic shades are always popular. Recently, copper has been a big deal, both indoor and outdoors. Its warm yet industrial feel is ideal against wooden boarding or decking. Bronze has also been coming back into fashion, and looks perfect in a nautical-themed porch.
Silver-colored stainless steel is a great look for a contemporary space, or go minimalist with a white plate and shade against a white painted wall. As a slightly softer version of plain white, try this season’s gentle pale grey.
However, if you like color, go for it. Look out for painted steel shades in colors from fiery red to pastel pink. Blue and green are popular outdoor shades, complementing the colors of the grass, trees and sky. Choose lights that match your window frames and door, or choose an unexpected accent shade to create an eye-catching effect.
What Styles of Exterior Wall Lighting Are Timelessly On Trend?
If you’re going to the effort of having your exterior wall lights installed by a specialist, you don’t want your investment to go out of style straight away. What types of exterior wall lights are timelessly stylish?
The classic coach light style of lantern is always popular. As we mentioned earlier, it looks smart to have a pair of wall sconces to either side of your front door, and the traditional coach lantern is an excellent choice. If your home is modern in style, go for a pared-back design with a slim metal frame and a simple back plate. For an older building, a New Orleans-type lamp will add an elegant finishing touch.
Lanterns can either hang from an arm attached to a plate, like a classic sconce, or stand upright against the plate. You can even get lanterns where the cases sit flush to the wall, with glass doors and a bulb that mimics a candle.
The understated design of the barn light makes it a versatile classic. They’ve been around for years, yet their simple design gives them a real contemporary feel. You can hang them above your country patio or the balcony or your urban apartment: either way, the barn light will look great.
Barn lights come in a great array of colors. We love the painted steel versions which can make a real style statement. Be bold and go for bright red or blue, or go for an industrial look with a brushed steel finish.
This eye-catching variation on the barn light has become fashionable again recently, and it’s such an attractive and practical style that we reckon it’s here to stay.
The beauty of the gooseneck lamp is how widely it casts its light. With its long “neck” reaching out from its plate, it casts a pleasing glow that can illuminate a good-size area. You can also usually adjust the angle to make sure the light goes where you need it to.
As the industrial trend continues, the humble bulkhead light has become a stylish option. It’s no longer just the preserve of communal stairwells or the back doors of stores.
For a retro look, go for the classic oval shape with a cage. Choose from classic black or white, or try a nautical theme with a rust-effect finish. Bulkheads come in a great range of sizes, making sure you have the light levels that you need.
This is hardly a trend, more of a practical security need. However, if you want to have an exterior wall light with a motion sensor, you’ll be pleased to know that they come in a choice of stylish designs.
You can opt to have the classic security light spot (which do have the benefit of being easy to adjust), or go for a more eye-catching option. You get can lanterns and barn lights with motion sensors, giving you an extra bit of security without compromising on your exterior decor.
Outdoor wall lights come in such a broad variety of styles, colors and build materials that you can’t really say they’re ever out of fashion.
Sure – certain designs will become more or less popular over time, but within the broad spectrum of models you’ll always find something you like and that will fit your precise outdoor setup and circumstances.
With matters of taste and style like this, I always think it’s best to go with your gut feeling. If you like it then that’s fine as it’s your home. Who cares what anyone else thinks just so long as you’re happy with your choice. 🙂
Homeowner and property investor Larry Jones founded Take a Yard in 2020 to bring you the very best outdoor living content, based on his years of experience managing outside spaces. Read more >