You are here

Create Outdoor Magic with String Lights

There’s something about the glow of string lights that makes even the most ordinary backyard feel magical. Transforming your outdoor space is simply a matter of some basic supplies plus a little decorating know-how. Talk about bright ideas!

Plan Your Pattern

The first step in creating a flawless string light design: Measure your space carefully. When it's time to buy, you’ll want to add between 2 and 6 extra feet to your calculations to account for the dip in the string. As for design inspiration, Pinterest is a good place to start. Also think public squares or your favorite restaurant, which have likely had a professional touch. Alex Bowman, lead trend forecaster for Wayfair.com, suggests securing lights in a basic V shape, a versatile design that works with almost any outdoor space. Other tried-and-true patterns include zigzags, squares and grids.

Shop Smart

  • Basic is good. Clear white Edison or globe lights rule the roost for a reason: They provide reliably bright neutral light.
  • Go eco-friendly. Solar-powered bulbs are desirable because they eliminate the need for a nearby power source—just be aware that they don't glow as consistently bright. Bottom line: Plan to use more—about 30% more, according to Bowman.
  • Add color sparingly. If you want to venture beyond white, James Wheeler of J. Wheeler Designs in Atlanta suggests a single-colored strand that matches your home's exterior—as in, if your house is yellow, incorporate one strand in that hue as an accent.
  • Make sure to buy lights labeled for outside use. They’ll fare better against the elements and last longer.

How to Hang

Once you’ve picked a design, brainstorm how many anchor points you’ll need and how to attach the strings. Two popular ways to hang lights are from a home’s exterior wall and looped around a tree. If your yard lacks natural anchors, try wrapping lights around a deck railing or draping over bushes. You can make your own pole using Bowman’s DIY method: Fill a 5-gallon bucket with gravel and stick in a tall wooden post. Bowman’s personal fave combo: a rustic-looking bucket with a bamboo pole.

Photos: (from top) Kim Hudson/Getty Images, Bob Stefko, Brie Williams, Ray Kachatorian.

 

Instagram Inspo

@kelleynan

@whitneyleighmorris

@thegrovebyronbay

@nicholnaranjo