Over the past year, coziness has become an integral part of my aesthetic. I am, like many people, spending more time at home than ever before. But I didn’t expect a pair of $18 string lights to be just the thing I needed.
While some might turn to oversized throw pillows, a deep and soothing new paint color, or converting their outdoor space into an oasis, I am both a renter and on a budget. This means no paint and no outdoor space—and my husband isn’t crazy about throwing 8,000 throw pillows off the couch in order to sit down.
But I still needed cozy. I needed warmth. I needed to feel like I was in some sort of whimsical spa.
If you’re looking to add a bit of coziness to your space—particularly as fall and winter approach—here’s what to know about my favorite new home feature.
Brighttown Curtain String Lights
These warm, LED lights emit a cozy glow in any room and feature adjustable brightness with a variety of patterns.
When looking for new lights to add to our apartment, there were a few key features we needed. First, we wanted warm lighting. Studies have shown it can help with everything from mood to memory recall (and because I think it looks nicer).
I also wanted LED lights that could be left on for extended periods of time without worrying about using a lot of electricity or generating a lot of heat.
Finally, the lights needed to be electric, not battery powered as I constantly forget to pick up batteries at the store, and swapping rechargeable batteries in and out all the time is kind of a mood killer.
These lights are all these things: warm, LED, and electric. But with the basics out of the way, we found that two of the features we hadn’t really paid much attention to ended up being really great.
- Brightness Control: Not only are the tiny bulbs warm white and LED, but they’re also dimmable. The lights come with a battery-powered remote control (yes, the battery can be replaced) which allows you to choose between four different brightness settings. If you’re watching a movie, you can lower them for just a hint of ambiance. If you want to read, you can turn them up but still keep things cozy.
- Pattern Settings: The brightness isn’t the only adjustable part of the lights. On the remote control, you’ll also find eight different pattern settings. They range from some serious strobe light-esque flashing to a shifting twinkle to steady-on. While I’ve never used some of the more bold patterns, the more subtle options are fun during the evenings.
As shown in the Amazon listing, the lights are often used over a window and in conjunction with a curtain. This means they’re typically hung on a rod. Unfortunately for us, our living room is home to a set of vertical blinds we can’t remove (renters, remember?).
Instead, we decided to create an accent wall with the lights. We can’t nail anything into our walls for hanging purposes so we had to find an alternative.
The solution was Command Hooks. We purchased a pack of clear, damage-free hooks at the same we purchased the lights. When they arrived, we used a small ladder and placed hooks equal distance apart below the crown molding at the top of our living room. After they were installed, we slipped the clear wiring at the top of the curtain lights into the hooks, plugged them in, and voila, let there be light. Altogether, the process only took half an hour.
By this point—and thanks to the headline—you probably already know these lights are coming with a high rating. Not only did they fulfill everything I needed in my new cozy, ambient lighting, but they had features I didn’t know I wanted.
They are easy to install, adjustable dependent on your mood, and easy to control. While we chose to place the lights inside, they are waterproof and can be used outside the home as well.
Whether you want some outdoor ambiance by your hot tub, some indoor ambiance by your couch, or even a super cheap way to add some fun lighting to your teenager’s room or make a magical reading nook for your little ones—or yourself!— the string lights are such a great value it’s easy to recommend them to everyone.
While I found the simple lights to be ideal for my situation, there are a few qualities others might want that are missing.
For those who want string lights capable of changing color, this pair from Amazon has 16 different color options as well as a rainbow setting. Reviews for the product are stellar with it garnering a 4.5-star rating with over 1,000 different reviews.
Obrecis LED Rainbow Curtain Lights
These LED curtain lights features 16 different color options.
Smarthome integration wasn’t a consideration for me, but if you’re a dedicated Amazon Alexa or Google Home user, you can opt for a set that can pair with your device like this one. Unlike other models, this set can be controlled through your phone which means no lost remotes or battery replacements.
Tramsmart WiFi Fairy Lights
Operate these color-changing fairy lights through your phone or via your smart home devices.
If you want to add a bit of coziness to your space and you’re on a budget, curtain lights might be the way to go!