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Design Guide: Barn Lighting Ideas from Decorative to Task Based

The Basics of Barn Lighting

Let’s first go over a few basic essential lights that are needed in a barn. Then we’ll go over more elaborate barn lighting ideas and designs, which include such things as uplights, string lights and skylights.

Inside

When it comes to the interior of the barn, you’ll need to be looking for lighting that brings light down from the ceiling. Pendant lights/hanging lights are the ideal light fixtures in doing this. There are a number of styles and fixtures that can be used for this, which we go over later. We also go over more decorative and tasked based barn lighting options.

Outside

The exterior of barn is also an important area to light for security, and safety – as it allows people to easily walk up to the barn at night. Ideas for the exterior of the barn include:

  • Path lighting up to the barn such as solar stake lights.

barn path lighting

  • For security measures, a motion sensor light can be fitted above the barn door that will go on when anything nearby moves.  
  • Wall lights are another idea for adding outdoor barn lighting: hanging lanterns, gooseneck lights, and wall sconces are a few light fixture types to consider.

Power Type

If you are starting from scratch, or are looking to do a lot of remodeling, then you’ll be able to choose the type of power your lights will be powered by. There are three choices here: low voltage lighting, high voltage, or solar powered.

Low voltage lighting is the most common type of outdoor lighting. Low voltage lighting is safer for outdoor lighting, it is cheaper to run, and the lights will be slightly dimmer as you can see with most people’s backyard lighting. This is done by connecting a transformer to the house’s main power supply, which lowers the voltage for the lights in and outside of the barn.

For a quick guide on low voltage lighting have a look at our post here: How To Install Low Voltage Outdoor Lighting In No Time

High voltage lighting is taking the electricity directly from the house’s main source and using it outdoors. If you are using the barn a lot and need proper lighting as you would in a house, then high voltage is ideal. You would want the barn to be completely weather proof just like a home. If you are using the barn to store things, and use it every now and again at night, then low voltage lighting would be best or even solar lighting.

Most people won’t have too many light fixtures in a barn (a few hanging lights, wall lights, etc.), so a few solar panels installed on the roof of the barn, or to the side of the barn will be able to power all of the lighting. It could even power other things in the barn (power outlets for tools, etc.).

Barn Lighting Ideas

Ambient Lighting

Here are some general barn lighting ideas:

  • A lot of barn designs are completely closed off, making them dark inside even during the day. If this is the case, then you can make great use of natural lighting. A few ways to do this include: installing windows, a skylight or solar tubes (a tube that goes from the top of the roof outside, to the inside of the barn bringing light in)
solar tube

A solar tube

natural barn lighting

A barn making great use of natural lighting during the day with large windows

  • Gooseneck lights are ideal as they stick out from the wall shining light across a larger area.
Gooseneck barn lights

Gooseneck barn lights from barnlightelectric.com

  • The poles of the barn can make great bases for light fixtures. Wall lanterns or sconces can be attached to them.

Decorative Lighting Ideas

For more decorative barn house lighting ideas try:

  • string lights String lights can be used for decorative lighting in a barn, wrapped around poles or overhead beams. They come in the standard small sized (like the common Christmas lights) light bulb (use white or yellow), or there are a range of decorative and elaborative versions like globe string lights.
barn lights

String lights wrapped around the poles and beams, branch lights, and ceiling uplights decoratively lighting up this barn

  • barn uplights Other decorative ideas include a grand wrought iron or rustic chandelier that can hang down and be a focal point within the barn. Uplights, pointed onto the walls and poles are common in decorating barn weddings, and can be used for everyday barn lighting. These same uplights can be placed overhead on the beams pointing onto the ceiling, adding more ambient lighting in the barn.
  • 2 simple decorative barn lighting options include using paper lanterns, and lighted twigs. Paper lanterns are inexpensive, and are lightweight so they are easy to install. They are popular in decorating barn weddings. Branch lights are branches stuck into a pot of sand or soil and wrapped in string lights.

Task Lighting

If you do any mechanical work in the barn or keep livestock, then you would want to have some specific task lighting within these areas. Low hanging florescent light strips are a popular choice as they cover a wide area, and are suitable in cold climates. Because of the white light they give off, they show true colors, allowing you to see the real color of paint, animal skin, etc.

A good thing to have around is a battery or solar powered lamp that you can carry around in the barn.

Resources: Styles and Barn Lighting Fixtures To Search For

Here are some styles and light fixture terms to keep in mind when searching for your barn lights:

  1. Bullet wall sconces
  2. CGU pendant lights
  3. Shallow bowl pendant lights
  4. Rustic lights
  5. Nautical styled lights work well in barns

A great place to buy barn lights is Barn Light Electric, or Amazon has a range of inexpensive light fixtures.

One Thing to Remember

The key to great lighting design is to layer the light, meaning, using different light fixtures to create different lighting effects. If you were to only use overhead florescent lights in the barn, you would create a monotone and dull look. Whereas if you were to use florescent light strips above the work areas, a few wall lanterns attached to the poles guiding people down the barn, 2-3 pendant lights to break up the space, and 2-3 uplights on walls/poles to add some accent lighting, you would create a more comfortable and well lit space, than the monotone barn with just the florescent lights.

image credits: Lauren, Sebastian

 

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Creative & Cool Candles: From Projectors to Votive Candle Holders

Here are a range of cool candles and unique votive candle holders.

The Bravit Molecular Candle

The Bravit is designed by Christoph van Bommel. The wax base is relatively thin and the one wick spreads out to form molecular structures allowing the candle to burn with 5 flames at a time. Is it chaos, beauty, or both?

From his site:

“The soul of the candle appears: the wick, hidden and charmless – stands out and draws attention: Will it burn? What path will it take? What will be left?”

The Bravit Candle

The Bravit Candle

DIY Coffee Can Candles

This DIY lantern tutorial by Maggie Makes uses coffee cans, a hammer, a nail, a stencil design and candles to make unique and decorative votive candle holders.

Coffee Can Votive Lantern

A coffee can votive lantern

Coffee Can Votive Lantern

Creative Candles: Hand Gestures

L’atelier WM, a design group in Paris, has designed a range of hand gesture candles.  Because of their fine detailing, these unique shaped candles look absolutely life like – source.

Hand Gesture Candle

Hand Gesture Candle

Rocking Votives

Pigeon Toe Ceramics have create these simple yet beautiful colored votive candle holders. The exterior has a nice egg like texture, while the inside is smooth and glazed with a choice of 15 different colors. They can be bought here for $36 each.

Colored votive holders

Colored egg votive candle holders

Colored votive holders

Colored egg votive candle holders

Luminology

The Luminology range of unique candles has a similar style as the Rocking Votives above. Made by Pigeon Toe Ceramics these are “porcelain vessels” that take their inspiration from backyard fire pits. The unique wick gives the candle a modern styling. These beautiful candles can be bought here with prices starting from $18. You can even mix and match the glazing color and the fragrance.

Luminology Candles

Beautiful candles by Pigeon Toe Ceramics

Luminology Candles

A Luminology Candle

Kerr Lanterns

The Kerr Votive Lantern is another candle design by Pigeon Toe Ceramics. They are miniature mason jars made from porcelain which glow softly when a votive candle is lit inside. These hanging votive candle holders are available here for $36.

Hanging candle holders

The Kerr votive candle holders

Hanging candle holders

The Kerr votive candle holders

Lumen Shadow Projectors

In our post 3 Designer Lighting Profiles: Shadow Projectors we highlighted the Lumen Shadow Projectors by Adam Frank. They are not technically candles as they are fueled by oil, but they are unique and creative pieces. They are available here for $48.

Lumen Shadow Projector

Lumen Shadow Projector

 

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Decorating A Space With Lighted Twigs

Most mood lights consist of shiny, minimalist orbs that can change color to your liking. But decorative lights such as lighted twigs can easily change the feel of a room. These are lights that are shaped like branches and twigs, so even when they are not on, they add a decorative element to a room. When they are on, they provide decorative indoor lighting – much more sophisticated than the overused string lights.

lighted twigs Lighted twig branches are versatile light fixtures. They can be attached to a wall creating a sprawling wooded light feature, or they can be placed into a vase or pot. Here is where you can tailor these light fixtures to the décor style of the space you are putting them in. You have a range of choices on the type of base to use – from Japanese to metal style pots or vases to place the lights in. Or you can go with glass, see through vases and fill them with colored rocks and the branches.

branch lights decorations If you want to create an intimate setting in say a bedroom or living room, then it would be best to go with a dark ceramic vase. Glass vases would work well with modern, minimalist décor styles filled with chrome or glass décor pieces. These lighted twigs also work well as restaurant lighting fixtures or even as easy wedding lighting decorations.

Grape Lights: A Decorative Restaurant Lighting Idea

When it comes to lighting a mid range restaurant, you will want to include a number of decorative light fixtures. For Greek, Italian or Wine bars, one such decorative light fixture are grape lights. These are fake grapes that have a light, usually an LED within each grape. There are a range of different versions to suit different décor styles and needs.

outdoor grape lighting

Decorating a Room With Grape Lighting

They come in a range of natural colors such as green, red or yellow. You can find large pendant grape lights, or they come as string lights. Grape vine lights are great because they have decorative leafs that tie clusters of grapes together. Even though they are fake leafs, they add greenery to a room – which coordinates well with decor that has a number of real life plants. Have a look here to see pictures on how the grape string lights work well to frame a window – they can also be used to frame doorways.

 

Used with a glass bowl, grape lights work as table lighting

Different Versions of Lights

Smaller versions can be used as table lighting, or there are pendant versions that work as ceiling lights. There are also waterproof versions, which act as outdoor string lights that can be used for outdoor restaurant lighting fixtures. Glass grape lights tend to be less realistic and a bit more abstract looking lighting decorations.

The cost varies between $20-50 depending on the version, length and quality. The higher the quality you buy, the more realistic the grapes will look.

Available from:

1000Bulbs

Battery Operated Candles

Wine Enthusiast

Amazon

6 Simple Artistic and Decorative Outdoor Lighting Ideas

Along with functional exterior lights such as driveway lighting, wall lights, deck and stair lights, there is a more decorative side to outdoor lighting. By adding a mixture of functional and decorative light fixtures an outdoor space will be filled with a variety of lighting effects making it more visually appealing. Below are 6 decorative outdoor lighting ideas. Ranging from wind powered lights to Sun Jars – these are simple ideas that can be used in any garden.

String Lights: String lights are one of the most common ways to use lighting to decorate a garden. They are more known as the green and red Christmas variety, but other colors are available. White and yellow colored outdoor string lights can provide soft year round decorative lighting. You can find versions which have glass globes or Japanese style lanterns attached to them. If you want to make it even easier to use these in your backyard, then take a look at solar powered versions – this will eliminate the need for a power source.

Floating Lights: If you have any water features outdoors, such as a swimming pool, pond or fountain, then floating solar light fixtures will work well. At night these fixtures will wash the calm moving water with glow of lighting. Some will even change color – creating outdoor mood lighting. There are upside down floating lights, that allow you to see the fishes in a pond at night. Some are shaped like water lilies.

The Firewinder is an artistic eco lighting fixture. Unlike the solar powered garden lights common today, the Firewinder is powered by wind. At night you can see the lights spinning around, synchronized with the speed of the wind. It can be hung on a tree, a wall or a post. $59.99 available from ThinkGeek.

LED Glowing Garden Pots combine the normal flower pot with lighting. These are light weight pots that come in a range of colors and have a light installed within them. One company that makes them is Rotoluxe. They have a range of different shapes and sizes with prices ranging from $150 to $200. Take a look here for our Modern Exterior Lighting Guide on Rotoluxe’s glowing pots.

Sun Jars are elegant Mason jars that are fitted with an LED light and solar cells. At night they softly glow much like, as the name suggests, a little sun. As they are waterproof, they are ideal for the outdoors, but can be placed on a windowsill indoors. A number of these spread around the garden will create a magical space. $24-28 from ThinkGeek.

Accent Lighting: The last of our outdoor lighting ideas is to use a décor piece and place lights to highlight it. For example a wall sculpture, a bird bath or a mini statue can have a light fixture directed towards it to showcase it at night. Or exterior lighting can be used to illuminate a tree or a flower bush. This helps create focal points in a garden.

 

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Using Outdoor String Lights For Your Garden

Many people think landscape lighting is expensive and complicated, but is not. One way of lighting your garden is to use decorative outdoor string lights, and using solar powered lights will make it even easier.

Outdoor string lights are a number of light bulbs connected together. The lights can range from colorful to warm or white outdoor sting lights, and come in styles such as large lanterns, circular, rustic, modern, or small festive lights. They are great because they can be used for exterior lighting all year round. String lights should not be mistaken with rope lights, which are LED lights in-cased within a clear tube to form a rope.

From paper DIY paper origami shades to wine bottle lamps, have a look at our post here for a range of outdoor string lighting ideas

Decorative outdoor string lights are used for ambient lighting: to outline driveways, walkways or steps, they look great for deck lighting, patios and porches. String lights cast a soft glow but when used with other forms of landscape lighting will enhance the look of any garden.

Depending on the quality and length of the decorative outdoor string lights, the prices can range from $15 to $150. The lights can come in lengths of 10 to 40+ feet, and some string lights are able to connect together.

Decorative Outdoor String Lights
The kind of decorative string lights to buy will be based on how you want your garden to look. If you are decorating for the festive season then red and green or other colorful string lights will turn the garden into a festive wonderland. If you are looking for a natural, year round design, one that is calm and relaxing like a European café, then white outdoor garden lights or off white will be the best choice.

Standard Outdoor String Lights: These are the most common outdoor string lights. You can get them in many different styles, colors, and lengths. There are many choices, from mini lanterns to colored blown glass.

Victorian String Light

Victorian String Lights

Lantern String Lights

Lantern String Lights

Glass Globes String Lights

Glass Globes String Lights

LED Outdoor String Lights: An energy efficient option is to use LED outdoor string lights. They are versatile and can be used to light trees, plants or other parts of the garden. More commonly seen as Christmas decorations, they now come in white and off white colors, which can be used all year round.

Japanese lanterns: A creative option for outdoors string lighting is to use Japanese lanterns. These are usually made of paper and can be fitted with an electric cord to attach light bulbs.

Going Solar
Using solar outdoor string lights will make it much easier to install and place the lights where you want. There is also no need to have timers or to switch the lights on and off, as they will automatically come on at night. They are becoming cheaper to buy and they don’t cost anything to run. More and more styles, shapes and colors are being made available as more people turn to solar powered lights.

Using decorative outdoor string lights is a great way of adding ambient lighting to your garden. It can easily turn an area into a festive, colorful place or make an area relaxing and elegant. Adding any kind of lighting to a garden will make it an enjoyable place to experience during night.

photo by photojenni

Outdoor String Lights

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