Make a Patio Look Bigger with Outdoor Lighting

No one likes a boring concrete patio. They’re small, they’re cramped, and worst of all they come standard with almost every apartment out there.

Many homes today are also built with very small front porches or patios to add a little curb appeal for minimal cost. Homes in rapidly growing neighborhoods just don’t have the option to include a beautiful sprawling patio to gather with friends and family.

Luckily there are many clever ways to use outdoor lighting aside from outdoor fire pits to make a small front patio look spacious, chic, and reflective of your home’s overall style. Here are a few clever ways to use outdoor lighting to turn your small patio into a fun, attractive night-time hangout spot.

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Assess Your Space

Before hanging or installing any lights, you should determine how much porch space you have to work with and your goals. How will you be using your patio? Relaxing by yourself with a good book in the evenings? Entertaining friends and family? Take stock of each of your porch’s nooks and crannies, think about where you want to sit, and which parts of your patio will look best with a little illumination.

Most homes have a simple rectangular porch, but if it is adjacent to an important room in your home such as the living room or the kitchen, think about what guests will see when they look outside. This is also a good opportunity to light up this particular section of your porch to tie these spaces together.

Solar Power

Solar powered lighting is a great outdoor option for small patios and can be purchased cheaply at many home improvement stores. These lights are also perfect for placing at the edges of a patio, the tops of posts, or on fences to shed light without hogging valuable patio space or batteries.

Use a row of solar powered lights to light up a patio walkway and help welcome guests to your home. You can also place a collection of lights at one corner of your patio to draw your eye outward and make a patio appear a little longer than it is.

Portable Lights

Outdoor lights that can be easily moved around are a versatile way to add lighting to your patio. Consider the many options including orb, standing lights, and lanterns. Hang some soft outdoor orbs that you can easily move around, depending on the situation.

Another way to draw your eye out and away from the concrete is to use rope lighting. String it up in branches during fall and winter, or line a small garden or the outside of your patio with it. Best of all, if you get tired of it or want to try a new configuration, you can just pick it up and re-arrange it to suit your tastes.

Overhead Lighting

Shine a light from above down onto potted plants and flowers. This will help create the illusion of height. If you have an overhang over your patio, install a row of lights that softly shine out and away into your backyard instead of straight down. This will extend the light and draw your eye out into the darkness, making your patio appear bigger.
You can also replace the bulbs in an antique chandelier with solar light bulbs and hang it from a trellis or a tree branch. This will add a touch of sophistication, while at the same time using lighting to create the illusion of more height.

Tabletop Lights and Candles

Entertaining guests? Invest in some outdoor tabletop lighting to create beautiful tablescapes without taking up a lot of room. You can find a selection of gorgeous outdoor tabletop lights at many home improvement or home décor stores in many shapes, sizes, and colors to match your style.

If you have a small patio table, strategically placed outdoor citronella candles or oil lamps are inexpensive. Candles can really perk up your patio as well as provide protection from mosquitoes.

Glow in the Dark Paint

If all else fails and you’re stumped about how to incorporate outdoor lighting on your small patio, why not give glow in the dark paint a whirl? Some innovative ways to use outdoor glow in the dark paint are to coat outdoor planters or a few tiles. You can even paint flat stones to line your garden or the grass around your patio. The soft glow can stretch out into the night, giving your tiny patio the illusion of more space.

Even if you have a small porch or patio, you don’t need to despair. You still have plenty to work with, and using a few of these outdoor lighting tips, you’ll be sure to have an outdoor space that’s just as stylish as your home’s interiors.

Anna Daugherty is the marketing manager for Wicker Central, an Elkhart, IN, based e-commerce company specializing in outdoor wicker furniture and wicker patio furniture accessories. Email her at [email protected].


Erin Emanuel


  1. This is a great picture of this backyard. I would love to adorn my back deck like this. Perhaps I will go purchase some lights tonight. I feel that my deck would be much more inviting this way. What sort of lights are these?

  2. Great article. Many useful pointers listed here. I especially like: “Access Your Space”. Taking the time to properly plan will save you a great deal of time and money. Be sure to follow this excellent piece of advice. Thanks for the fantastic resource!

  3. This is some great information, and I appreciate your point that portable lights are a flexible way to light your patio. My husband and I have been wanting to improve our landscape, and we’ve been discussing building a patio. We’ll definitely look into getting some good portable lighting to improve it even more once we’ve completed the project. Thanks for the great post!

  4. I’ve been putting together a patio for my home lately, but I haven’t been sure what to do with it. I didn’t know that you could use lighting to make your patio look bigger! I’ll make sure I take advantage of that. Not to mention you can use solar lighting, which I love! Thanks for sharing!

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