These 9 string lights for dorms will give your small space a glow-up it deserves — from $6

My RA hates candles, but string lights for dorms aren't banned

String lights on bookshelf
(Image credit: Target)

It’s official: string lights for dorms are a game-changer. Aside from offering that extra bit of brightness when you’re pulling an all-nighter on an overdue essay, they’re an easy way to add warmth and coziness. Yep, having survived college life myself, I can confirm a humble set of string lights made the chaos that much easier to manage.

Indeed, it’s about romanticizing the short bursts of me-time you do get. Amidst all the sorority and frat parties — not to mention lectures — keeping yourself in check can fall by the wayside. So, rather than burning the candle at both ends, invest some time (and very little money) into bringing a sense of ambiance on a budget.

Of course, when it comes to dorm room lighting ideas, you want to keep it chic, so opt for something that’s either classic or a little quirky. We’ve got your back when it comes to sourcing best dorm string lights out there.

9 best string lights for dorms

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Whether you’re looking for something a little bit extra, a little bit funky, or pared-back and simple, our hot pick of string lights will have any dire dorm looking light and airy once again. From starry bulbs to flamingo-shaped filaments, these small bedroom lighting ideas are your answer to a brighter semester.

Pricing is accurate at the time of publishing.

Highly-rated string lights for dorms

Things to consider when buying string lights for dorms

Keen to start shopping? Hold your horses for the moment. While we’re glad you’re eager, it’s worth cross-checking some of the key factors to account for when purchasing string lights for dorms to avoid disappointment. Luckily, we’ve done the hard work for you.

Size: First things first, you need to ensure the lights are aligned in size to what is most likely a pretty dinky little dorm. Here, bigger ain’t always better. Yep, you’ll want something in the range of six to 35 feet, ensuring there’s enough to wrap and adorn your new home, but not so much you’re struggling to find room for all the wiring.

Input: Next, you’ll want to weigh up how you intend to power it. If you’re only going to be using your lights on occasion, then battery-powered is best. However, if you’re expecting daily use, lean into the plug-in designs. 

Color: This comes with two sub-factors. Not only do you need to think about what color the lights emit (i.e. blue, yellow, white, or any hue in the rainbow) but also the color of the wires. For low-key rooms, a classic white light does the trick, as does a white or clear wire. As for bolder tastes, don’t be afraid to up the color ante. 

Design details: Again, it sounds obvious, but think about how the peculiarities and nuances of your lights’ design affect the mood of the room. For something girly, beaded designs work a treat, but for edgier tastes, it might be something a little bolder. Flamingoes, anyone?


How do you hang string lights in a dorm?

Good question. On one hand, you can simply wrap and drape them across the desk, shelf, or bed space you intend to illuminate, but on the other hand, you can employ some nifty techniques. Interior designer and founder of Meble Furniture, Raf Michalowski, suggests using adhesive hooks or small nails to hand them, for example. “The key is to make sure they are secure and won't damage the walls,” he explains. “Command strips can also work well if you're looking for a removable option.” Of course, it goes without saying: don’t overload the hooks or clips, otherwise, your lights won’t stay up long.

Can string lights light up a room?

This sounds like a silly question, but it isn't. Why? Well, some string lights aren’t designed to brighten a room but simply add a nightlight-style hue. However, certainly, there are plenty of designs out there that can manage the job of lighting a room — such as the ones picked above. Indeed, Raf Michalowski, interior designer and founder of Meble Furniture, confirms this: “String lights are also an affordable option for lighting up your space without having to invest in expensive light fixtures.” Win-win! “Also, they come in various colors and styles, giving you the opportunity to personalize your space.” Well, we’re sold.

Raf Michaelowski, Interior designer and founder of Meble Furniture
Raf Michalowski

Raf Michalowski is an interior designer. He is also the founder of Meble Furniture, which is one of the largest leading furniture retailers within North America.

Where to shop for string lights for dorms

If you’ve not yet found your perfect match, don’t sweat it. We’ve listed our go-to retailers below.

How we chose these string lights for dorms

We spend hours searching online for only the best products, ensuring each and every pick listed not only improves users’ lives but also earns healthy compliments and star ratings of at least four. While we haven’t been able to personally trial all the products shown just yet, you can rest assured that reviewer testimonials, which we use to guide our choices, are always brutally honest.

Looking for lighting picks that make a bolder statement? Our round-up of the best Urban Outfitters lamps is perfect when the big light starts to give you the "ick"

Joseph Bobowicz
Freelance Contributor

Working across digital and print publications, Joseph Bobowicz is a London-born writer obsessed with books, culture, and all things new. When he's not writing about fashion for i-D and the Independent, he's out sourcing the best homewares to incorporate into any humble abode, fixer-upper, or first-time buy alike.