22 Actually Chic Ways to Decorate Your Home (and Yard) with String Lights

Lindsey Lanquist
22 Actually Chic Ways to Decorate Your Home (and Yard) with String Lights
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Photo: Today's Gardens.

When I first got to college, string lights were it. They were the thing. We hung them from the ceiling, draped them behind translucent canopies, and strung them over mirrors. Decorating your dorm was child’s play unless you adorned everything in sight with delightfully twinkly string lights.

But then, I graduated. And string lights continued to feel distinctly collegiate. I had some I wanted to hang in my first bona fide adult apartment, but I couldn’t figure out how to without making the space feel tacky, dormy or some combination of the two. I eventually managed to string up one strand of metallic lights I was satisfied with, but I had to adjust the scalloped draping four or five times before it looked intentionally uneven in an appropriately edgy way.

MORE: 23 Ways to Turn Your Garment Rack into Actual Home Decor

Still, I couldn’t help but miss the days where my apartment twinkled from head to toe. Few things feel as magical as flipping off a light switch, only to be surrounded by bunches of tiny, hanging luminaries. It makes you feel like you’re situated in the middle of some celestial place—and not, you know, in the middle of college (or New York City, or wherever it is you actually are).

Surely there was some better compromise to be found—some way to enjoy the best string lights had to offer without abandoning all hope of inhabiting an age-appropriate space.

MORE: A Single Palm Leaf Is the Underrated Decor Piece Your Home Is Missing

My hunch, of course, was correct. There are plenty of sophisticated, interesting and totally not dorm-y ways to hang string lights inside and outside your house. Below, you’ll find our 22 favorite approaches to the home decor trend.

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Have a slanted wall in your home? Use it as an opportunity to drape a shorter strand of string lights, and turn the space into a cozy bedroom loft.

Photo: Instagram/@immyandindi.

Mixing globe lights with greenery is always a good move.

Photo: Fixa Dona.

Instead of hanging string lights all the way across your wall (sometimes they just don't fit, and other times, you just don't want to opt for the most obvious decor choice), drape them into a dramatic scallop and leave one end hanging down.

Photo: Tumblr.

Hang string lights in front of your windows for an ultra-magical starry night situation.

Photo: Pinterest.

Work with your space. Have some exposed beams on your ceiling? Drape them there.

Photo: Pinterest.

String several strands across your ceiling. It'll make you feel like you're staring up at the stars, even in the middle of the day. (This is a particularly good move for covered or screened-in porches, like the one pictured here.)

Photo: Haneens Haven.

The easiest way to make your pool more idyllic: Add string lights.

Photo: Yard Envy.

Section off part of your backyard by framing it with hanging lights.

Photo: Pinterest.

Opting for weirder bulbs can make your strands feel edgier and more adult.

Photo: Festive Lights.

Drape strands over art or other home decor to keep your walls feeling dynamic (and maybe even a little bit kitschy).

Photo: Tamara Gavin.

Light up your porch with outdoor string lights.

Photo: Place of My Taste.

Drape strands at different lengths for a cascading effect.

Photo: DIY Projects.

Pro tip: String lights work particularly well in minimalist spaces with pared-down palettes.

Photo: Pinterest.

Don't they just make the space feel a lot homier?

Photo: PopSugar.

Highlight your bar cart by stringing a shorter strand of lights behind it.

Photo: The Kitchn.

Hang your string lights so they'll add something to your space even when it's bright out.

Photo: Craving Some Creativity.

Great in gazebos, canopies and other similar structures. (Doesn't that look like the dreamiest place to host a dinner party?)

Photo: Pinterest.

Create a cozy outdoor nook by draping a strand or two on your balcony. (Just make sure your pillows and blankets can withstand the elements.)

Photo: Pinterest.

High ceilings mean plenty of opportunities to drape string lights overhead.

Photo: Ellie Koleen.

A simple way to make a rock- and cement-filled space feel more comfortable.

Photo: Arch Daily.

Consider it a hanging centerpiece.

Photo: Design Sponge.

Great for tight backyards or other constrained outdoor spaces.

Photo: Pinterest.

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