Friday, April 9, 2010 2:16 PM EDT
As Canadians, patio weather often means being able to store our down-filled winter coats until November. Whether you're already shivering in your backyard or waiting for warmer temperatures to bust out, the time will come when you'll want to stay outdoors late into the night and for that you'll need light! Global Lanterns
From left: Reed Hurricanes, $49.95 - $59, Crate and Barrel; Caged outdoor lanterns, $19.99, HomeSense
From Asia to Morocco, North American backyard decor has been influenced by a variety of cultures and motifs. This year, it's all about mixing your accessories for a pan-international look. These lanterns, while a bit old-fashioned because they hold actual candles, are charming and will a add a warmth and exotic feel to your yard that no LED light could.
From left: Armonk 3-Arm Chandelier, $199.00, PotteryBarn; Circuit Wall Candleholder, $149, Crate and Barrel; Olivia Star Pendant, $129, Pottery Barn
Being out of doors doesn't mean it has to feel that way. People spend lots of money on high-end patio furniture and indoor/outdoor fabrics, why not invest in an indoor-worthy light fixture that will add class to your outdoor space? Of course for the chandelier or pendant you'll need to install some wiring but there are lots of online resources with how-to tips if you're into the DIY. Just remember to invest in weather-proof switches and outlets.
Light From A Stone
From left: Patio stone during the day; at night; and underwater light show, Light From A Stone
Speaking of extravagant, Light From A Stone is a new Canadian company with a very new idea for outdoor decor. LED lights and fibre optic cable are embedded into poured concrete for a surprise light show that's totally undetectable by day. Choose from the company's pre-set designs or work with Light From A Stone to create your own. Founder Taras Slawnych's first light-up patio creation was a poured concrete table that glowed with a map of the stars the night his daughter was born.
From left: Solar-Powered Lighted Patio Umbrella, $189, Hammacher Schlemmer; Sunsei® Solar Power Umbrella/Tent Lights, $57.99 (for two), Costco; Umbrella 4 LED Lights, $99, Inside Out
Al Fresco dining at night could be so much more convenient with these handy umbrella lighting options. No need to clutter an already full table with lanterns and candles, when cordless, eco-friendly lighting is built into your umbrella. You can buy an umbrella with embedded solar lights like the one from Hammacher Schlemmer or go the cheaper, more versatile route with lights that attach to any fabric (Sunsei) or directly to your umbrella pole (Inside Out).
Solar That Looks Electric
From left: Solig Solar Lights, hanging lanterns, $19.99; post, $9.99; orb, $9.99, all Ikea
Lots of companies are producing pretty solar lights that match the look and functionality of the real, out-of-fashion electric kind. I like IKEA's in particular. Their hanging lanterns remind me of the paper version I had in my childhood bedroom except these are made with a weather-proof material that just looks like paper. Unlike many other posts I've seen, this one, perfect for lighting a garden path, isn't connected by wires. Each post collects and outputs its own energy. Finally, this glowing orb is just fun and very portable. Take it wherever the patio needs a little extra light.
Just For Fun
I can't imagine that this Glow Dust really gives off much light but when I discovered it on the website for Canadian Tire, I couldn't help but include it here. After leaving the dust in the sun or under a strong light for 20 minutes before guests arrive, sprinkle it over your grass and garden for an other-worldly black light effect without the black light. Probably better suited for kids' alien-themed birthday party than a classy dinner but who am I to judge?
Glow Dust, $7.99, Canadian Tire