Friday, February 27, 2009
String Lights: An Old Idea Made New
Low cost strings of lights have been around for a long time. They are everywhere during the holidays. And, they illuminate open-air venues, like tent parties and restaurant patios. When we considered the lighting for our Taylor Road house, strings of lights came to mind for the large screened porch. They are a good fit with the informal, industrial style of the house. We had used low voltage cable lights inside the house, but these are not suitable for outdoors, and besides, they cost ten times as much.
String lights are simple to install: In the wiring stage, three outlets were placed high on the wall at evenly spaced intervals across the room. The outlets were wired to a switch, so the lights could be turned on easily. At finishing stage, eye screws were screwed into the walls. At one end, the eye screw was next to an outlet, so that the light string could be plugged in. Three strands of medium gage wire were attached to the eye screws and pulled tight across the room.
We first tried a package of little mini lights on one of the wires, but did not like the twisted green electric wire that came with lights. It was too noticeable. So we took those back and got three boxes of medium bulb Christmas lights. These came with simpler electric wire and larger bulbs. They were called C-7’s. You can get C-9’s if you want bigger bulbs. There are lots of bulb shapes and sizes to choose from, all the way up to regular sized bulbs.
Each bulb has a little clip so that it can be hung on the wire. We spaced them out, and then pulled the strand tight. Fortunately, the light strand could be cut off, so there was not excess at the end. When the strand is cut, you will need some black electrician’s tape to seal the end.
When the light strings were turned on we had a nice surprise. The lighting was beautifully diffused throughout the room. It was so soft and diffused that it seemed like moonlight. Strings of small lights have a special ambience – they remind us of parties and festive times. It was fun to re-interpret this familiar lighting style for everyday use.
Postscript: Apartment Therapy has a great post on string lights with info on where to get them: http://austintexasrealestateblog.blogspot.com/2009/02/string-lights-old-idea-made-new.html
Austin Texas Real Estate