Tips for Hanging String Lights

One décor trend that I’ve been pretty hooked on for a while is string lights! I love how soft and romantic they look lit up, and how they can either fill up a whole wall as the focus of interest or act as a detail to frame other art and décor. I had a strand hung in my bedroom throughout high school, and now, here in my new college home, I have been going a little crazy using them to accent décor everywhere. That also means that I’ve had a good deal of practice hanging them, and I gotta tell you, it’s way easier than you probably think!

I thought it might be handy to share a few of my tips and methods for hanging these babies. Because let’s face it, twinkling lights obviously make the season more magical.

Safety First, Babe

Sorry that I gotta mom you right off the bat, but before you make a purchase make sure that if your lights will be hung outdoors, you buy them for outdoors. Also, if you’re your lights will be near anything flammable, or resting on a wall while lit for long periods of time unattended, go for LED. No matter how pretty your new string lights are, if they start a fire or short circuit your power, you won’t be enjoying them much.

DIY Lighted Floral Garland here

Get the Right Lights for the Space

Also consider the colors you’re going for, and whether white or green wire will better fade into the background, assuming you prefer that look. Look at your space and see if you want a small accent or a big statement. The color of the light—warm white, slightly-blue LED, or even colored bulbs--can totally change to the look of a space.

And in case all that freaked you out, a warm white LED on white wire is neutral enough for just about anywhere. But oh my goodness, fairy lights are so darling too! (Just a little pricier… yay college.)

 Map It Out

Having a good idea of what you want your lights to look like when hung up is a great place to start with design. For a full wall, first decide if you want scallops, a big swag, or a straight upper border, etc, and how evenly-spaced you want the lights to be. For example, in my current room, I have 2 kinds of lights—one in even scallops and the other in a big swag. However, the same lights in my room before were in a row of scallops decreasing in size to give a completely different effect as I worked around a cabinet hung on the wall.

A great way to get a picture of this is to use a piece of yarn the same length as your light strand and tape to map out the spacing and placement of your lights, especially when using a continuous strand of small lights. When working with large bulbs, you can also be a nerd do this mathematically (like third grade math though) by dividing up the number of bulbs into scallops in your head. The strand on the pink wall above has 24 bulbs, so every sixth bulb was hung on a hook to make it even the easy way.

Mini Cinderella Pumpkins and DIY Metallic Ombre Wall Art

Work with What You Have (AKA embrace the lazy)

A while ago, my sister had loft bed, so she hung lights underneath it in her study space by weaving the strands through the rungs on the underside of the bed. Here in C-Stat, there were already 2 hooks attached under the fireplace when we moved in, so we simply draped a strand of lights over those.

Hang Em’ Right (here’s a few methods I’ve used)

Loops of String
Crown molding at my old home made it difficult to hang lights right near the wall, so I had to improvise a little. Simply tie a loop at each end of a very short piece of sting or fishing line. One loop will connect to your light strand, whether hooked on or tied around it, and the other can go over the point of a clear pushpin. Just stick the pin into the ceiling or wall, and your lights will hang down from that. This was perfect for the particular room it was in, and is also a safer option if you have non-LED lights that will be left on for a really long time—less heat transfer to the wall.

Command hooks
This is the only method of used here at the new house because it really is as simple and easy as following the directions on the package. That said, different strengths of hooks do play a big part in how your lights will hang (and not fall on you while you sleep. I recommend larger hooks, like these medium wire hooks, at the corners of your light strands or any place that will have a lot of weight on it. For small sections of lights and to position cords down the wall, decorating clips or mini hooks work well. Just remember to safe rather than sorry, especially when hanging large glass bulbs over hard floors. I also have found it’s easier to anchor the strand with the bigger hooks in the corners, then position the middle of the strand instead of trying to work horizontally across a wall. (I’m not sponsored, I just know that this is what worked for me!)

Cup hooks
This is ideal for spaces that will get more wear or be more permanent, such as anywhere outdoors. Make sure to size your hooks for the size lights you’re going to use, and plan them out well before hanging, because they will leave holes. Sometimes these guys are little finicky to get screwed in, but I’ve found the screwing in regular screw of about the same size a few turns before trying to put the cup hook makes the process a bit easier. This is definitely the most labor intensive and permanent option for hanging, but for outdoor spaces or discreet locations, it is the sturdiest.

Get Creative

Last but not least, have fun putting lights up in an unconventional area, or hang them in different ways! Vary the type of strands you use, and don’t let the seasonal trends confine you! (Kinda like clothes, am I right?)

This has to be the season for string lights, because outdoor summer lights like these are bound to be on sale soon, and more basic holiday ones are filling shelves! (I’m definitely stockpiling those at the moment.) Plus nothing says winter wonderland to me quite like chilly weather, big sweaters, and oodles of glowing lights!

I hope some of these tips were helpful as you add a little lighted fantasy to your life! I’m not sure if this counts as holiday decorating, but it’s sure reminiscent of the holidays if you ask me! How are you sneaking in your stash of holiday décor?

Oh, and comment with any questions you may have!

Stay lovely,

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