Friday, June 22, 2012

"String lights"



For these blog posts, inspiration comes in the most haphazard forms. 
Earlier this week, I read an article on “great outdoor bars” in the United States.  It was on the Huffington Post blog, and the winner was The Foundry in Dallas, Texas.  Lord knows, I haven’t been to Dallas in years and couldn’t find The Foundry without a good GPS and some luck.  My sense of direction is… terrible. 
The Foundry in Dallas, TX

Anyway, The Foundry, with its picnic benches, reminded me:  String lights are great!  The ambient light at night is simply delightful.  Why don't more people use them???

Ten years ago, string lights were an absolute chore to find.  After searching, I finally purchased some from Pottery Barn.  At the time, they were $30 for a strand of 8 or 10.  Fortunately, they’ve survived four moving trucks and re-locations.  Some of them are now strewn in the flowering jasmine on my patio, and I still love them.

Today, they are much easier to find and the price point is closer to $10. 

Most people usually associate string lights with outdoor wedding receptions or cocktail parties. 
Backyard cocktail party


But, they can also be used as an art installation. 
String lights AS art.  Probably not the most practical idea if you are going to have guests walking around the room.... but it IS clever. 


Avoiding light bulbs on the floor is not ideal, so use them as they were intended.... to hang from the ceiling. 

String lights in a barn for a cocktail party

String lights hung as a makeshift outdoor chandelier.  THAT looks like a grand little place for a picnic.


Several years ago, I ran across this photo and saved it.  String lights were used as a "canopy" for the entrance of a restaurant.  The idea is simply great... the photo isn't!

Canopy of string lights


In Chicago during the Christmas season, string lights cover many of the areas around the Magnificent Mile and create a beautiful canopy of lights over the streets. 

String lights in Chicago


But, why limit them to Christmas, holidays, and weddings??????  That seems silly.  I leave mine out all year long.  They are fun, festive, and cheap.

Entrance to Freeman's in NYC.  The string lights welcome you to the door at the back of an alley. 


They also look great in industrial spaces, like this restaurant. 

Not a clue where I found that photo.  But, the string lights and turquoise tablecloths spoke to me.  Hello! 


Still, my favorite idea is to use lots of them, outside.  In Denver, CO, string lights are strung across the street on Larimer Square.   The result at night is..... breathtaking!

About a year ago, I was in Denver for a conference.  Tired and grumpy after a day of travel, I glanced out of my hotel window near dusk.  And.... what to my wondering eyes should appear?????  The lights of Larimer Square!   The fatigue vanished and I promptly walked over to see them.  The experience was, sadly, like a moth to a flame.  I have an internal homing beacon for lights and fountains.

They were beautiful.  For the next four nights, I made the two block pilgrimage to see the string lights.  Some nights for dinner, some nights for cocktails, and some nights just for the view. 

Larimer Square in downtown Denver, CO


Perhaps the Larimer Square string lights might be a bit much for the backyard, but they are such a great element to add to a space!  Romantic, quirky, festive, artsy... who cares?  String lights are still one of my absolute favorite things. 


Thanks for the light bulb, Mr. Edison!



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