Introduction: Adding String Lights to Our New Lower Deck

About: Around here you'll find we love to: refinish old furniture, re-purpose old pieces, build it from scratch and continue bettering our home one step at a time!

Adding String Lights to our new pea gravel deck and fire pit. Wow did this break my brain… Here was our situation: The tall posts on the upper deck are not evenly spaced for two reasons. One, because of the staircase / gate and Two, because instead of cutting them evenly when I built it I started at the side of the gate and worked my way down the deck with as many full size boards as possible. It makes sense: Less cuts – Less waste. However, now with the lower deck and evenly spaced posts adding string lights connecting them all meant nothing would be even…

We went from adding more tall posts to the deck evenly spaced with the lower deck posts. (Terrible idea that would NOT look right. I am not adding to or dismantling a perfectly good run of railing because I have OCD!) To using the spacing of the posts on the deck to determine where the posts would go on the lower deck UNEVENLY so they match. (Can’t handle it – something HAS to be even!) This situation made my eye twitch. Who knew adding some pretty string lights would break my brain?

So I was just like, “NOPE. We’re putting the four posts up evenly across the lower deck no matter what. Nothing will look right if we don’t at least do that.” Knowing full well I would then end up here trying to make all of this look “right” on top of hanging all of the lights without ever having to double them up across the lower deck and then up on to the top deck. *Forehead finally just cracks down the middle* I was wandering around the lower deck going over and over it in my head one night after work. Lodi and I work really differently. I don’t think aloud. I’ve been accused of jumping into projects with no plan whatsoever because I had never mentioned it out loud before. Lodi is the opposite and he is actually helping me learn to be a little more vocal about things – he needs to at least know a little bit of what’s going on in my head lol!

Step 1:

He threw out a bunch of ideas and I nixed them all. I just COULD NOT hang these string lights unevenly and yet, I was also determined to use all of the tall posts on the upper deck… which were not spaced evenly…

FINALLY it was something Lodi did or said that gave me the answer. WE DON’T NEED TO USE ALL OF THE TALL POSTS ON THE UPPER DECK! The upper deck rail is nearly nine foot tall on its own! OMG Why are some solutions so hard for my brain to get to? It was just so obvious and simple. Hang the lights on the rail evenly swaging them between our new evenly spaced posts. BAM. For one thing it never occurred to me that the deck railing was tall enough that no one would hit their head on the swaging lights (obviously it is) and it just made sense to go from one tall post to another even though it isn’t at all necessary. This totally eliminated my problems and I think it’ll look just as nice even though we’ll be skipping one tall post on the deck. The post will get to keep its shepherds hook for flowers or whatever.

Ok on to hanging the string lights! These are the lights we chose – they’re a very warm and cozy light which is what we both wanted. I spent a lot of time researching lighting actually! This was more complicated than I anticipated. What’s neat about the lights we ordered is that they’re plastic and so called “shatter-proof” Which is a REALLY big deal. Amazon reviews talked of the horror of trying to hang string lights with the bulbs attached and losing half of their lighting in the process… EVERYONE recommended hanging the strings and then putting in the bulbs. We were able to avoid that situation entirely with the lights we chose though we were still EXTREMELY careful! What I planned to get (and really wanted) were solar string lights but they just haven’t come far enough technology-wise for my OCD.

Step 2:

We would have had at least four separate strings and four separate solar panels run around out here. With the lights we chose instead we’re going to be using just one outlet and two strings that plugged together. I also ordered two things from Amazon to hang them. Heavy duty anchors and spring clips that could hold a lot of weight. Now that we had our plan together hanging the string lights was pretty easy! We started at the far end post beside the gate, closest to the outlet. Then we swaged it down to our first lower deck corner post. From there we went to the tall post on the other side of the gate. (I didn’t want anyone bumping their heads on the lights coming down the staircase and I liked the idea of making the entrance to the deck more of a focal point too.) Here is where all of our planning paid off.

We went down to the lower deck’s second post then TO THE RAILING – evenly spaced back to the next post on the lower deck. From there back to the railing one last time, then back to the last post on the lower deck and returning then to the last tall post on the upper deck to swag down along our railing before wrapping around our staircase. We just skipped the one post that was throwing us off and now the string lights swag evenly around the fire pit and to the posts on the lower deck. Going to the tall posts at both the ends and at the beginning (around the gate) I think still looks like it makes sense to the eye. Which is really what its all about. I think this looks even and deliberate even though its certainly not “perfect”. Another factor that was super important was getting the lights AROUND the fire pit. Though we’re not having huge bon fires out here I admit we held our breath a little bit with our first fire after stringing these. The cozy light at night is just romantic! We really love it!