Boy have we come a long way in outdoor lighting styles over the past 20+ years that I’ve been covering the industry. Back then, the hottest finish was verdigris (alternate name: verde) and the predominant shape was the classic square lantern with perhaps the occasional onion for variety.

While it is typical for fixture size to change over time – for example, the nationwide popularity of McMansions leading to the demand for lanterns in much larger sizes – I don’t think any factor has affected the aesthetics of exterior fixtures more than the development of LED technology. With LEDs’ small size, suddenly it became possible to design outdoor lighting that didn’t resemble the familiar and traditional silhouettes. Most notably, the prevalence of LEDs has allowed more Contemporary and Modern styles to become available, which has dovetailed nicely with the consumer preference for Transitional and Contemporary interiors.

The growth of outdoor living spaces – even in the most northern states and Canada – has influenced another trend. Where patio and deck furniture used to have a specific seasonal look, the category has more recently evolved to encompass upholstery, real wood and natural materials that are perfectly suitable for living rooms. In fact, many homeowners with young children and pets have discovered the advantages of having hardy, easily cleanable surfaces for their interiors.

Despite the uptick in consumer spending on vacation travel, homeowners still maintain a strong desire to entertain and relax at home in these newly expansive outdoor living spaces. The distributors profiled in our Outward Bound trends story (see page 32) reveal that selling accessory categories such as BBQ grills, pizza ovens, and comprehensive outdoor kitchen appliances has been highly successful for their businesses. If you haven’t considered adding to your outdoor living repertoire before, the continued momentum of this trend is a great opportunity to do so.