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The Best Ambient Lighting to Add Some Oomph to Your Space

Star string lights, a light shaped like boba tea, and a neon sign.
Twinkle Light Store/Smoko/Decanit

When people get bored with their living space, they might switch things up with some new wall art or bedding. While those will both do the trick, there’s one element people often forget about that can make a huge change: lighting.

Ambient lighting, in particular, can immediately change the mood of your home. It can create a warm, cozy feeling, add a dash of whimsy, or any vibe you can think of. Forget redecorating—these ambient lighting options will give you the extra oomph you’re looking for, with far less effort.

Strip Lights

Differently colored lights surround a room.
DayBetter

The ambient lighting option that has the most impact is peel-and-stick strip lighting. These can be placed along baseboards, used to accent a high ceiling, add light behind televisions or monitors, or even add some fun color under furniture. Basically, you can completely customize how you want your space lit.

Also, since they’re peel-and-stick, installation is a breeze. They’re also LEDs, so you won’t have to worry about overheating. You can even cut the strips (they come in packs of two, 50-foot rolls) to adjust the length for the area in which you want to place them. They even bend to fit in corners.

However, keep in mind that once you cut and remove a section, it will no longer be operational so do so carefully. Once you have your strips in place, just plug them in, and enjoy your new room.

DAYBETTER Led Strip Lights

Customize any space with these strip lights.

A Galaxy Projector

A projector lights up walls with stars.
BlissLights

If you’ve been on Twitch or any other social media platform lately, there’s a good chance you’ve already seen galaxy lights.

Thanks to an adjustable base, this option from BlissLights is actually a projector that covers walls or ceilings in swirling stars. It features a red, blue, and green background, but you can also purchase a more classic colorway of gray, blue, and green.

The projector can be controlled through an app on your phone that allows you to remotely adjust brightness and lighting effects, or start and stop rotating effects. With over 45,000 reviews and nearly a full five-star rating, it’s clearly an internet favorite for a reason.

BlissLights Sky Lite 2.0

Bring the night sky indoors.

Neon Signs

A neon sign reads, "Good Vibes."
Decanit

Neon signs are classic for a reason, and there are more options than ever available online. This “Good Vibes” sign is the perfect example of nostalgia-meets-cool. Thanks to two predrilled holes in the back, you can easily mount it on your wall. The sign also has a clear, sturdy back that allows it to be propped up on desks or dresses if you don’t feel like mounting it or can’t because you live in an apartment.

The sign features a 70-foot cord, so it’s got plenty of stretch from wherever its dedicated outlet is. It has a USB cord that can be plugged into an outlet with an adapter or charger, or you can plug it into a computer. You can also get neon stand-alone desk lamps shaped like cacti, moons, and rainbows.

Good Vibes Neon Sign

Give your space a retro, yet modern. feel.

Desk Lights

A light is shaped like a boba tea.
Smoko

Whether you’re at work early in the morning, study late at night, or work on a hobby in the evenings, a desk lamp is a fun way to add some extra light and décor. This adorable boba tea lamp will light up your space, while also looking adorable.

It’s powered via USB, so you can plug it into an adapter and use a traditional outlet, or use your computer as its power source. Prefer batteries? It takes three AAAs, and then you can place it anywhere you want.

Curtain Lights

Curtain string lights hang from a window
Bright Town Store

Curtain lights are a simple way to add a cozy ambiance to your home. Sure, we might be a bit biased since we covered this set previously, but it’s still one of our fave purchases.

The lights come on a string that’s nearly 10 feet, and every two inches or so, a strand unfurls to form a vertical line of lights. The result is a curtain of warm LEDs that look gorgeous behind sheers, around a bed, or against a plain wall (which is how we use them).

Not only are these cozy and warm, but they also have a remote control that allows you to choose between multiple flashing rhythms, as well as adjust the brightness. Plus, they’re corded, so you don’t have to deal with replacing batteries.

Bright Town Store Hanging Window Curtain Lights

There's a reason these were our favorite purchase this year.

Colored Bulbs

A colored lightbulb illuminates a room in purple and blue.
Govee

Arguably, one of the easiest ways to add some bold color to your space is with some colored light bulbs. Like the curtain lights above, we’ve sung their praises before, as well.

Simply screw these into any lamp, and they work instantly. If you download the brand’s app and sync your bulbs, you can play around with the On/Off timer and music syncing, There are also Sunrise/Sunset modes, which allow you to adjust the brightness based on when you wake up and fall asleep. And yes, you can do all of this with a single bulb.

Govee LED Light Bulb

So many features in one tiny package.

String Lights

String lights are shaped like stars
Twinkle Star store

If you want just the basics with a twist, novelty string lights are for you. These aren’t your traditional fairy lights, though. They come in all sorts of shapes and colors for a unique take on a classic look.

This set is beautifully shaped like stars and can be used both indoors and out. Whether you’re looking to switch up the look of your patio or bring a little whimsy into the bedroom, these will do it. Like the curtain lights, they also feature multiple flash settings and have warm bulbs for a cozier feel.

Twinkle Star 100 LED Star String Lights

Add some whimsy to your life.


If switching out your wall art or changing up paint colors is just too much work, time, or cash, ambient lighting might be the answer. Choose the option that’s best for your space for an immediate, but dramatic, change.

Shea Simmons Shea Simmons
Shea Simmons is an Atlanta-based writer who has written about everything from whether Crisco is a good moisturizer to how to KonMari your space. Her work has appeared in Bustle, My First Apartment, and Make It Grateful. Read Full Bio »

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