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From hanging votives to faux chandeliers, candles are a creative way to capture the beauty of outdoor space - and they don't come with an electric bill!

Candles help define any outdoor area, says Vicki O'Neal, owner of Form and Function, a Richmond, Va.-based interior and landscape design firm. But be sure to distance them from artificial lighting: "The light output from those sources will be far brighter than candlelight," she says.

"Besides the danger of the candle flame, melted wax can create a big mess and pose a safety hazard as well," O'Neal says. Palm Beach County, Florida-based celebrity design expert Kathy Peterson warns that direct sunlight can fade candles.

1. Lead the way

"Votives along deck rails, pillar candles in glass enclosed lanterns sitting along steps or placed strategically around a deck add a sense of movement visually," O'Neal says.

2. Accessorize and shine

To spice up your candles, experts recommend everything from rhinestones to pebbles. O'Neal loves to use iron pieces with her collections.

3. Give old items new life

"Candle lanterns placed on an old concrete birdbath base make great use of a decorative item that might otherwise be discarded," O'Neal says.

4. Create an odd couple that works

"Use a goblet, old sherbet dish or antiqued champagne glass as a stand for floating candles," Peterson says.

5. Enjoy a secret garden

Peterson likes to surround her votives with greenery, making sure the foliage is a good distance from the flame. To illuminate a garden, hammer a post into the ground to hold a candleholder or weigh a glass candleholder down with sand or pebbles, she says.

6. Focus on the details

For exterior dining, O'Neal uses candles as centerpieces. "Floating candles in a stylish glass or pottery bowl, perhaps with some tiny flowers, is a beautiful centerpiece on a dining table or accent elsewhere," she says. "Intentional placement of a cluster of randomly sized glass pillar lanterns brings the eye wherever you want it by creating an instant focal point."

7. Light up the night

A great option for recapturing natural light from the day is the Sun Jar. A highly efficient solar cell with a rechargeable battery and LED lamp, the Sun Jar needs at least half a day of sunlight to light up your nights outside. Sold at most major retailers, the Sun Jar also comes in a light blue color called the Moon Jar.

"It's also waterproof and works really well on patios or anywhere with direct sunlight," says Tobias Wong, the creator of the Sun Jar.

© CTW Features

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