Lighting can make all the difference when it comes to interior design. It can turn a room into a warm, romantic haven or create a dark, brooding vibe. Outdoor lighting is just as powerful. A few simple do-it-yourself tricks will turn your lawn and garden into an elegant space and regular hangout spot -- just like a dreamy setting from a movie. And don't worry about your bank account. These DIY options are only a fraction of the cost you'd spend buying products from home-goods stores.
Rope lighting is a beautiful way to illuminate your outdoor pathways and patios. You can purchase a spool of rope lighting (LED is recommended because of its energy efficiency) in various colors, clear being the most popular. But before you purchase, make sure to measure the areas you wish to adorn with lights. Any leftover strands can be used for smaller areas, so it's better to purchase more than you think you'll need. Head to Home Depot or Ace Hardware, or order online on Amazon.com.
Once you have the rope lighting, walk along the path you want to light, leaving little to no slack as you lay the strand down. To fasten and secure the strands, simply purchase garden staples and pin them to the ground. Use your judgment to determine how many staples you need and how far apart you should place them. You'll likely need more any rounded areas of the pathway.
If you'd like to string rope lighting along a balcony, patio or deck, you will also want to purchase screw-in clips to hold the rope up. These can be placed under the patio railings. This process will take a little more time, and possibly some experience with a drill, but if you are comfortable taking on the project the results will be breathless. To make things easier, YouTube has some great tutorials. Simply search "how to install rope lighting."
For you wine lovers or friends of wine lovers, there's a clever wine fixture that I'm sure you've never thought of. Save empty wine bottles, rinse them out, peel off the labels, and transform them into lanterns. Fill the bottle halfway with torch fuel, water or oil (olive oil will also work). If you're not sensitive to the smell of insect repellent, you may want to find torch fuel that doubles as a repellent, to help keep the bugs away from your outdoor space. You can also find some unscented brands, but those might be more difficult to come across. Pouring liquid into the bottle is a messy job, so use a funnel to make the job easier.
Once you've filled the bottle halfway, wrap thread seal tape (aka plumber's tape) around copper coupling, which can be purchased at Home Depot or Lowe's. Insert the copper coupling into the bottle. Make a homemade wick using some medical gauze. Cut it into three thin pieces about 6 to 8 inches long, and braid the pieces together. If you're not completely comfortable making your own, you can also purchase Tiki torch wick replacements. They will be durable and dependable. Either way, slide the wick into the bottle, and let it absorb the liquid for at least five minutes before lighting it. When you are finished burning it, cover it with the copper top to preserve the fuel.
A simpler outdoor lighting fix involves candles. You can purchase Mason jars individually or in packs of four, eight or more and make your own candle wax. Again, you can purchase premade candlewicks, but those often come in a precut size. So if you want to make your own you can easily find braided wicks with the wick tab base sold separately. Now for the candle wax. Got five or six old, stubby candles lying around? Perfect. Use 'em up. Heat the candle wax to about 180 degrees. Once the wax is melted, you are free to add scents or drops of essential oils. Once you've added flavor, let the wax cool, but don't let it solidify. While it is cool, but still in liquid form, carefully pour it into your Mason jars, and then drop in the wick with the tab until the tab hits the bottom. The wax will solidify after several hours. Then you've got yourself some homemade candles!
With these clever, simple DIY decorations, there's no reason to skimp out on beautiful fall evenings outdoors.