Disclosure: this post may contain affiliate links, which means I may make a commission if you decide to make a purchase through one of my links, at no cost to you.

Confession: I have a thing for cafe lights. I know — it’s crazy, since these things are so ugly, they don’t add any ambiance whatsoever, and I’m totally lying. I like them as much as I wish every morning started with a huge pot of coffee and a basketful of puppies. And since I seem to not be the only one in blogland with a fondness for them and I’m planning on doing some major overhauling of the back yard soon, I have found quite a few ideas to ogle on an almost daily basis. Here are some of my favorite ways designers and bloggers have used them in their outdoor spaces.*

*Note: the pin-it button has been turned off on this post for most of these since they have original sources elsewhere; please click through to the individual project if you’d like to pin them!

11 brilliant outdoor lighting ideas

My sister bought me two sets of outdoor cafe lights last Christmas, but I’m pretty certain I’ll be adding to that number once my outdoor space is planned out. Chatfield Court did an excellent job in her tutorial for how to hang several strings of lights together in one space (and without it looking like a tangled mess of wires or extra hardware). Saving this!


Most cafe lights are strung overhead, but my friends Jacque and Matt from The DIY Village changed things up and added some to their deck along the railing. I can imagine this adds a nice little glow at night!


One of the things that I’m taking diligent notes on are how people create the posts that the lights hang from. I took out a bunch of trees last year, so I have fewer spots around the yard that are up high enough. Posts, poles, and hardware are going to play a big role in my own yard transformation (when the time comes, of course). Design, Dining and Diapers used metal poles and added a wooden topper for a little polish, while blue i style covered in extensive detail (my favorite kind of detail) how to plan for them (spacing, type, etc.).


Blue i Style - How-To-Hang-String-Lights

And how cute are these? Alexis from Persia Lou added some sweet little tassels between each light, which in her words “definitely upped the magic factor.” Since these are paper, they won’t last as a permanent addition, but I’m keeping this idea in mind for the first party I throw outside.


Most of the pictures I’ve found for cafe lights are strung underneath a ceiling or pergola, just like this patio makeover from Table and Hearth.

lovely etc ceiling

I am also digging smaller light projects, like this Anthro-inspired hurricane created by Sadie Seasongoods.


Elizabeth Joan Designs only spent $30 on her patio makeover, but the lights are my favorite part. And that pegboard luminary is so clever! I think I’ll have to make a few of those myself.

backdrop on fence elizabethjoandesigns

In my case, I will need to probably do the pole version and figure out an interesting way to blend them into the surroundings. I am simply in awe of Brittany’s transformation to her patio. Her lights are installed with copper pipe… and you all know how partial I am to copper!


Ultimately, I just want to create the kind of charm and cozy feeling that French Country Cottage did with her outdoor setup. Simply lovely… I just want to grab a blanket and a glass of wine and curl up.

FCC fall

Sometimes when I’m finding it difficult to get started on a big project, keeping my mind on some of the accessories I get to add at the end spurs me through the tedious parts. I’m sure I’ll be coming back to look at these ideas over and over until the back yard makeover is complete. Can’t wait to finally see these in my yard!

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Comment Policy: I love comments, especially if they make me laugh. Feel free to let your words of wisdom and humor fly (there's no swear jar on this blog), but if you're overly spammy, rude, or just plain boring, you're just going to have to accept that your comment may not see the light of day. P.S. If you leave an affiliate or monetized link when making a comment on this site, such links might get overwritten by a plugin I have installed that uses my own internal tracking. See terms and disclosure page for more info! Thanks in advance. You rock.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. I love outdoor lighting. I don’t have yet a yard worth decorating, I’ve put the tiny fairy lights (battery run) in decanters inside … love at night!

  2. I sometimes visit home improvement blogs and articles for inspiration and I am continually blown away by the level and depth of knowledge and passion that people have about home renovation / DIY and home remodeling. It sometimes seems to me that a person such as yourself who may not be a professional contractor or someone related to homebuilding or construction has such expertise in these fields (I know this article is about lighting but your site is very inspiring :)