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Reinvent your fairy lights

Earlier this year, in the aftermath of Christmas, I wrote about the joy of fairy lights and string garlands all year round – and shared some ideas on how to get creative with them – for my column in the Independent on Sunday. 

I've been meaning to post up the extended version here for a while – then, yesterday, I saw this beautiful picture on Canadian blog, Poppytalk, and it spurred me into action...

images: Pony Rider via Poppytalk
Looks good, don't you think? I did a similar thing in my hallway, which has limited powerpoints and not great overhead lighting; I trailed a garland just like this (see below for where to find these giant fairy light strings) up near the ceiling, the length of one of the walls. It looked amazing, until all the bulbs started popping and I realised there was something wrong with the REALLY old bulb-holders. When I get a new one I will post up pictures because it really gave the hall a totally new atmosphere and was really welcoming for anyone coming in the front door.

Another idea is to pimp some regular sized fairy lights. Via the medium of Google Translate (and looking hard at the pictures in case of confusion), you can make like Swedish blogger Rebecca and create some really sweet decoupage “lampshades” (see above) for your fairy light bulbs, out of plastic cups and some old scraps of nice fabric. Read her how-to here. Personally I'd go for non-florals and go as un-girlie as possible to avoid it looking twee (or new-age fun with a vintage feel).

You could do the same with all sorts of things – cupcake holders, paper cups, even Quality Street wrappers (the coloured bits), which my friend Holly has done (see above): she arranged her newly multicoloured lights on the wall in a heart-shape above her bed (mould some wire, then just wind your lights around it – see more detail in the post I wrote on it here).

If you have any giant jam jars lying around (the sort you get pickled vegetables in from Lidl), stuff your fairy lights inside and put the jar on a shelf or in a corner that could do with a glow.

Alternatively, if – like me – you have a box of old-school light bulbs you haven’t quite got around to recycling… chuck them in something fruit bowl-sized (glass, ideally), put it in a fireplace or somewhere prominent, and bury your fairies underneath. The effect when you turn them on is beautiful – and that’s because I nicked this one from a friend who’s a lighting designer.

This is what I first attempted to do with my giant fairy lights – known as a festoon lights (about £30, Amazon): hang them from a single hook on a clean, white wall (this idea is from the lovely Norwegian blog, Brigg). If you try it, be warned that you get one massive blast of light, so choose your bulbs carefully, as well as the position on your wall.

I also love the really simple ways my stylish neighbours Emma and Sarah (whose flat I will be featuring in full very soon) have used red fairly lights, above. I get a glimpse of these through their window whenever I leave the house after dark and the twinkly glow they cast always makes me want to go back indoors and stay warm.

The same neighbours also did this, above, to their old-school luggage rack saucepan holder over the sink. The sturdy enclosed type of lights they've used means they can withstand quite a bit of bashing around and the odd splash of water. Again, after dark these make for a very cosy kitchen table.


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  3. Great article and great advice, a great website to get some great fairy lights from is they not only have fairy lights but cotton ball string lights which look great!