Leviton Home Solutions

HouzzBecky Harris, Houzz
Houzz is the leading platform for home remodeling and design, providing people with everything they need to improve their homes from start to finish.

When I had my first apartment, the friend I shared it with and I each hung a strand of white string lights around our bedroom windows for the holidays. “The lights around my window just make me happy,” she said at the time, and it’s always stuck with me. We both wound up leaving them up for the rest of the year, and I think of this happy discovery whenever I pull out a set of string lights. Here are 10 ways to use them to up the happiness around your home.

Add to curb appeal

Sarah Phipps Design, original photo on Houzz
Sarah Phipps Design, original photo on Houzz

An overhang provides a great chance to add a welcoming glow from above. Other outdoor architectural elements like pergolas, trellises and arbors also provide good opportunities to display string lights.

Be safe: Make sure your lights are approved for outdoor use.

Wrap loft infrastructure

The exposed pipes in a loft provide a great armature for wrapping string lights. Rather than the usual straight line, go back and forth and hang the lights at different heights to create a clustered effect over a sitting area.

Be safe: Arrange your string lights so that you can plug them directly into an outlet. If you think you’ll want them around for a long time, it’s worth the investment to add an outlet where you’ll need one.

Add under an outdoor umbrella

At night this will create a magical effect and lend a wonderful ambience to an alfresco party.

Be safe: Secure any cords on the ground so that no one trips over them. Setting up your table close to an outlet where you won’t have to deal with this is optimal. Also, while the ones shown here are simple outdoor string lights, many manufacturers now make outdoor umbrellas with LED lights built in.

Light up a bottle tree

Amy Birdsong, original photo on Houzz
Amy Birdsong, original photo on Houzz

This idea for lighting up the bar is brilliant. String lights illuminate a wrought iron bottle tree full of clear glasses and bottles. This brings attention to the bar and beckons to guests, encouraging them to feel free to mix themselves a drink.

Be safe: Carefully inspect any string lights you had stashed away for the holidays. It’s probably a good time to upgrade to cooler-temperature LED lights. And always unplug them before you go to bed.

Create a smoke-free “fire pit.”

These homeowners used orange string lights in a bowl full of driftwood sticks. Holes drilled in the bottom of the bowl and table keep the cord tucked out of sight.

Light up a wondrous over-the-bed sculpture

Jen Talbot Design, original photo on Houzz
Jen Talbot Design, original photo on Houzz

This “tree” crafted of branches extends up the wall and over a teen’s bed. Delicate lights and feathers complete the dreamy scene.

If you really love them, commit

Kimberley Bryan, original photo on Houzz
Kimberley Bryan, original photo on Houzz

These lights run from room to room in this home. The homeowners loved them so much that they had them hardwired into the electrical system. Now the lights can be switched on and off easily with a light switch.

Light up a centerpiece

Winding a string of delicate twinkle lights around leaves, hurricanes and other centerpiece accents makes for a beautiful table.

Be safe: Look for battery-powered string lights like these so you won’t have cords dragging across the room, which can be a tripping hazard. They are worth the investment. You can enjoy the lights on a mantel or shelf when you’re not hosting a dinner.

Keep the monsters out

If you have a child who dreads lights-out time because of a fear of the dark, string lights are a great solution. They will provide a comforting glow that’s not too bright for sleeping.

Britse & Company AB, original photo on Houzz
Britse & Company AB, original photo on Houzz

Here’s a more grown-up version. The way the dark cord swags against the white wall is artistic and sculptural.

Be safe: Make the extra trip to the hardware store and use insulated nails or hooks when affixing string lights to a wall.

Upgrade from using candles on the porch

Our Town Plans, original photo on Houzz
Our Town Plans, original photo on Houzz

As someone who hoards hundred-packs of Ikea tea lights for my screened-in porch, I love this idea. A similar quality of light can be achieved with string lights. No more taking up a whole kitchen drawer with tea lights, no more fruitless searches for that long lighter, no more having to toss them after one night of use and put a whole new set out.

Be safe: Even though a porch is covered, be sure to use lights approved for outdoor use.

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