Tuesday, January 26, 2016

DIY Home Decor: String Lights String Art

One day I am checking out all the sofas in the furniture showroom at Macy's and the next I find myself obsessing over not a sofa but the backdrop of one.  It was essentially string art designed onto the wooden wall that gave an artsy feel, yet it was so simple.   The hanging lights in the anterior added to the warm effect of the whole look, and I felt inspired to recreate a similar cozy feel in my apartment.  I wanted a large art piece in my living room that was less than $100 (it was actually difficult to find one that would be personal and go well with my other furniture), so I decided to meld the ideas of nail string art and string lights.
Here is what triggered this DIY, 
and below is what I came up with.
DIY Copper Geometric Reclaimed Wood String Lights String Art Wall Decor Home Decor
Measurement:  48 in. X 34-1/2 in.

            $1.98               Plastic drop cloth  (Optional)
            $1.98 * 7         Wood strips (8 ft.)
            $5.58               Wood screws (1-1/4 in)  (Count: 100, Used: 50)
            $4.77               Wood stain - Minwax Special Walnut
            $9.95               French cleat bracket (Holding 100 lb. minimum)
          $12.70               Copper slating nails (1-1/4 in.)  (Count: 80, Used: 42)
          $33.49               Copper wire LED starry string lights (165 ft.)
             $3.47               Wallboard anchors  (8 sets)
                                        Sanding block
                                        Rag/Sponge brush
                                        Power drill
                                        String/yarn/twine (Optional)

I already found a sponge brush and some sandpaper at home, and used a small cardboard box as my sanding block to lower my costs, so my total after taxes ended up being about $88.65. Now, that might seem like a lot, but the piece you create can be budgeted cheaper depending on what you already have and whether or not you HAVE to have copper nails or 165 feet of copper wired string lights like I had to.  If you have the means to tear apart free wooden pallets, go right ahead.  If you know a better way to hang up heavy objects, then great, and hey, please let me know!  For taking up the sad, empty space above my sofa, I'd say I'm pretty satisfied with the result.

It took about a week to create, since I waited to buy lights the moment after I figured out the length I would use.  However, this project can definitely be completed in a couple days with proper planning and the materials being bought all at once.

Do It Yourself:
Step 1:  Have Lowes cut five of the furring strips in half and two cut in thirds (for free!)

Step 2:  You'll want to lay out a plastic drop cloth if indoors.

Step 3:  Sand the wood and wipe it off.

Step 4:  Practice staining the 1/3 strips using the sponge brush until you find a color you like, but make sure you stir the can first.  Using a rag after helps remove any excess.  I added water and a meager amount of stain for the first strip, a little water and dipped the sponge a quarter of the way for the second, and a very generous amount for the third.  I chose to go for a color between strip #2 and strip #3.  Stain all the wood and let dry for at least 8 hours.  Also, this stuff really smells, so open windows are a must!

Step 5:  Line up the wood strips as preferred.  Flip them over, place five or six of the 1/3 strips vertically as a support, and drill in the wood screws in a zig-zag pattern.  Then, secure in the french cleat bracket at the top.

Step 6:  Flip over, measure out where you want your nails, and hammer them in leaving about 3/4 in. out of the wood.

Step 7:  (Skip if already bought string lights)  Use your string to create a rough draft of the string art and measure the length you will need.

Step 8:  *VERY IMPORTANT* Untangle the string lights before using.  Trust me, it will be worth the time, as it will save you from a lot of otherwise, unnecessary frustration.  I wrapped mine around a book.  Gently wrap the string lights around the outer nails first to create a border.  I don't recommend untwisting and re-twisting them too many times, as that might break the wire.

Step 9:  Once your design is fabulous, test it out by turning the lights on.  If you have drywall, to hang it on the wall, you have to manually screw in the wallboard anchors (drilling them in won't work, I tried!) and then the back of the french cleat bracket.  Use the screws that come with the anchors and not the cleat.

Try to leave a very small gap between the lower wood strips so that you can hide the end of the wire behind the wood.  This helps maintain the clean look of the rectangle border shape.  I'm so pleased with how the art piece turned out and if I were to do it over, there are minor changes I would make.  First off, I would make sure to stain all the 1/3 strips used as the back support and have the stained part facing front (opposite of what I did) in case it is visible through any gaps.  My rough draft looked really cool, so I got overly excited with 165 feet of string lights, but I didn't realize then that it would have a totally different, somewhat cluttered look from afar, once the lights were on.  Using a shorter length and increasing the space between the copper nails might be the way to form a more geometric design with more wood revealed.  If I change my design now, I would have to risk the wires breaking, so my perfectionist self is just going to have to be restrained until my next DIY.

Considering I had never worked with wood before, it was a fairly uncomplicated and not so lengthy project I would recommend to those searching for starry, personalized wall decor.

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