Strings Attached

Bistro lights, also called string lights, are popping up across the St. Louis area both indoors and out. Local design professionals give their opinion on whether bistro lights are a classic design element or a simple craze.

Lights by BulBrite, available at Metro Lighting. 

Edited by Moe Godat 



Who doesn’t love a little bit of fun in their life? That is what outdoor bistro lighting does for your yard. It transforms the mundane with instant ambience.The soft glow of the lights make you feel as if you have been transported to a quaint little outdoor space from your travels. They remind me of a Pagoda restaurant in Japan where we shared a wonderful meal with the family we were visiting. Instead of bistro lighting, they had paper lantern lights in outdoor sitting areas that were  tucked into the hillside. The lights instantly make you feel special and relaxed at the same time. They have become a classic in my book. CJ Knapp, Yours by Design.

String lights, which were first invented by Thomas Edison, captured the attention and imagination of the public. Bistro lights are just the newest iteration. They can be used in many different applications to create ambience. I would classify them as a classic. Janice Bohn, Anne Marie Design Studio.

Bistro lights, commonly called decorative string lighting, are an easy way to bring life to an indoor or outdoor area. Typically used in bistros or cafés, bistro lights have become a popular choice for homeowners that want to create ambience in outdoor patio areas. I personally love a lighting scheme that transforms a dull area into a lively environment. Bistro lights come in many different options and price points and are a popular choice for weddings, parties, outdoor dining or general outdoor lighting. Bistro lighting has staying power and will remain a classic design element. Barb Collins, Barbara Collins Interior Design.

As long as the installation is done well, bistro lights are here to stay for a while. We sold quite a few of these bistro, also called “string light,” kits over the pandemic, and we continue to even now. Mike Craft, Metro Lighting.

Bistro lighting, sometimes referred to as cafe lighting, is not a fad. It is a design element in both indoor and outdoor lighting applications that is here to stay. The quality of bistro lighting has improved through the years to include the use of LED, solar and programmable functions. They come in many shapes and colors and are applicable for both commercial and residential uses. These so-called strings of lights add fun to any atmosphere. Shelia Hendrickson, Amini's Galleria.


Ubiquitous. What a great word. I don’t get to use it near often enough. So thank you for allowing me the opportunity to say that while bistro lights are ubiquitous, they are not a classic. That’s not to say they aren’t cute; they are. They lend that celebratory vibe that is a hold-over of the Christmas twinkler, from which they originated. Cute, festive, warm and inviting, while they are all these things, classic they are not. Something about them reminds me of the chrome vanity strip with globe lights. Yeah, I see them eventually going the way of the chrome vanity strip. Kim Hany, FORNEY + architecture, LLC.