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Sure, lanterns and sconces can brighten up your outdoor space, but twinkly backyard string lights have the unique ability to instantly transform your hangout into a cozy (romantic, even) haven; the best summer night becomes that much more enjoyable. If you’ve ever hung a strand above your dining table, you’re on the right track. The ideas, below, however, go far beyond basic mood setting. We’ve rounded up five spaces that reimagine what string lights can do. 

Divide Your Patio

In this Kate Hayes–designed outdoor nook, string lights function as floating partitions. Instead of adding a view-blocking wall, column, or outdoor room divider, simply outline your dining area with a couple of strings of Edison lights to keep the space open.

Use Existing Fixtures as a Blueprint

SkB Architects cofounder Kyle Gaffney’s outdoor lighting solution at friend and client Lisa Picard’s Sonoma Valley house? Mount mini bulbs between the main residence and guesthouse, securing them to the metal canopy’s wall-mounted brackets.

Illuminate a Dark Corner

To warm up a portion of her fence that was heavy with foliage and farthest from the door, Whitney Leigh Morris at Tiny Canal Cottage decked the surface in a swoop of lights. 

Let Your Tree Trunks Do All the Work

You don’t need a post or exterior wall to incorporate string lights into your backyard. To get the look of this Jess Diab–curated firepit area in Los Angeles, simply use your biggest tree as an anchor point.

Highlight Multiple Hot Spots at Once

With their children frequenting the two-story “cubby house,” and the family firing up pies in the pizza oven, this multi-string setup at renovating duo Kyal and Kara Demmirch’s Australian pad spans both structures. The simple arrangement ensures that no precious patio real estate is taken up by messy cords or lamp bases.

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