For last year’s Fourth of July party, overlooking the pool I hung Chinese paper lanterns over the pergola. It was a precarious job as I teetered on a ladder and tied the fishing line at various lengths. Although it can be a bit of work, creating overhead mood lighting for evening entertaining sets the tone. After securing lots of mosquito repellent, one of the most important aspects to entertaining outdoors during summer is to get the lighting just right. With the exception of a few strategically placed Tiki torches, many of us overlook outdoor lighting even though we know how important it is for our interior design. I recently came upon a few creative ideas to implement mood lighting for outdoor dining.
I like to add mood lighting at eye level and often use a long row of outdoor lanterns on the table with flickering candles inside. The overhead lighting can be a bit trickier, and it helps to have them on dimmer switches, but if you are in need of some extra sparkle I have a few ideas. After attending a picnic lunch sponsored by Kravet fabric, I became enamored with the creative lighting they chose. It was an inside event, but could easily work for an outdoor party. The picnic luncheon was served on black and white striped blankets and mint green pails filled with silverware. The flowers were white peonies in tall black matte vases. The black-and-white motif with splashes of color was made complete with an overhead umbrella wrapped with sparkling lights. The lights looked to be good old-fashioned Christmas lights and the result was shimmery lighting that illuminated the table. Other outdoor lanterns hung overhead and on the table, but the wrapped lights took center stage.
Another interesting idea is to create your very own light-up table to dine upon, just like those art tables we used to trace on in grade school. Can you imagine an entire table lit up under all that delicious food, pretty plates and glasses and of course the flower arrangements? At a recent designer show house I came upon interesting counter tops in the laundry room lit from the inside. The material was made from Corian, which has mostly gone out of style in today’s kitchens because of the surging popularity of marble and stone counter tops. The Corian repurposed as a lit-up counter felt decidedly modern. This gave me a great idea for an evening under the stars – a lit table made of Corian with twinkling Christmas lights overhead wrapped around the umbrella, and all on a moonlit night in July. My new summer project is to find an ambitious craftsman willing to make me a table lit from within and just in time for summer.