No matter the size of outdoor space you’re decorating, start with a plan that lets you play with layers of lighting and take advantage of the beautiful string lights now available. They put sparkle into holiday settings and continue to light up entertaining spots any time of the year. Here’s how a small balcony becomes a magical wonderland by layering on the lights.
Start with the main show -- hang parallel strings of lights on the largest surfaces, such as a wall or overhead structure. The effect is of a shimmering curtain or waterfall that sets the stage for specialized and detailed lighting to fill out the space. It’s also a beautiful setting for summer or fall nighttime get-togethers on the deck or patio. The lights at the top here are attached to the beams with zip-ties.
The cascading effect of the string lights on this balcony is achieved by letting them fall freely in parallel lines. For other areas such as gutters, eaves and porch columns, fasten them onto the surface with outdoor light clips and removable outdoor hooks. LED string lights have a real benefit over incandescent: More strings can be attached together per outlet, because the bulbs don’t emit heat and use little energy.
Add dimension by filling in open spaces. The lighted spiral Christmas trees brighten the area in front of an unlighted wall. Behind them, small battery-powered LEDs twinkle softly in potted arborvitae and spiral blue spruce for a blending effect.
Look for secondary spots for added dazzle. They can be whimsical, like a garden trellis or a window box. This bicycle lets lights take on an unexpected shape; the trick is to run them around the wheels and handlebars so the bicycle shape is evident.
For a tabletop accent, wind battery-operated LED string lights inside small frosted-glass pendant light shades and arrange them in a tray. Add oversize shatterproof ornaments and tuck in live greens. Battery-operated string lights are an easy, portable way to decorate all around your outdoor space.
Round out the lighting scheme with accents. They’re as easy as adding an LED candle and a nest of battery-operated string lights to lanterns. And don’t limit this decor to Christmas -- wind battery-operated string lights through trellises or around gazing balls for a fairyland effect all summer and fall.