If you’ve ever researched backyard lighting ideas online or flipped through any home décor magazine, you’ve probably noticed a recurring theme: outside lantern lights. They hang on brick walls, sit on coffee tables and stand tall next to walkways. Lanterns are, indeed, a popular choice for illuminating outdoor spaces – and have been for a few centuries, now. Even with so many outdoor lighting options available today, homeowners keep going back to outside lantern lights.
But why? Read the case for picking this style fixture and you might make the switch yourself.
Making a Case for Outside Lantern Lights
There are several unique qualities that make outside lantern lights a tried-and-true choice for your exterior lighting. You might even have a hard time deciding what you love most.
The definition of a lantern is simple: it’s an enclosed container with a light source inside. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the lantern light has been recreated in a number of different forms.
Types of Outside Lantern Lights:
- Lamp posts
- Wall sconces
- Table lanterns
- Hanging lights
Plus, within these different types of lantern lights, you’ll find a variety of shapes and styles. Lighting designers can get really creative using unique materials, adding embellishments, integrating LED light bulbs and so much more. This kind of versatility makes it easy to find fixtures to complement your home’s personality. From polished, art deco-glam to Spanish-inspired Mediterranean, there’s no shortage of style options when it comes to outdoor lantern lights.
Not only are lanterns versatile in their shape and style, but they have several different practical applications. Historically speaking, outside lantern lights have been used to:
Illuminate roads and paths – It may seem like an obvious use for lanterns now, but lighting public spaces wasn’t always a priority. In America, public street lighting wasn’t formally established until the early 18th century. Boston and Philadelphia were early adopters of street lanterns and were among the first to experiment with different types of lighting fuel.
Send signals – During the age of steam locomotives, train conductors and railroad workers would use lanterns to communicate messages during the dark night hours. They would simply swing the lantern in a certain way that would signal to either stop or slow down.
Celebrate life/culture – There are many examples of lanterns being lit to honor lost lives or victims of violence or natural disaster. But they’re also used in celebration. In fact, the Chinese New Year culminates with the Lantern Festival, when people light candles and lanterns as a symbolic gesture.
Lanterns are naturally weather-resistant due to their enclosed structure. As a matter of fact, these fixtures were specifically designed for that reason: to prevent wind and rain from blowing out candle flames. Candles may not be the only light source any more, but the classic lantern style still acts as a protector.
That being said, there are features that can enhance a lantern’s durability in inclement weather. For example, outdoor hanging lanterns with a “Wet” UL rating are fixtures that can withstand direct contact with rain, snow, salty air and heavy fog. These lanterns are so weather-resistant you can use them on uncovered porches, walkways and other exposed areas.
Lanterns are time-tested and resistant to change. These light fixtures have been in use for thousands of years. While it’s unclear where lanterns first originated, there were mentions of them in the ancient worlds of China, Egypt and Greece. Of course, their materials and light sources have evolved to accommodate today’s technology and lifestyle needs. But, the original concept still stands – and it’s as practical and stylish as ever.
8 Outside Lantern Lights You’ll Love
Still not convinced? Worried you don’t have the right space for a lantern? Well, don’t be. You could have a big backyard with room to spare or a postage-stamp patio pad, and the answer would be the same. Outside lantern lights will brighten up your backyard with light and style you’ve never seen before. To help you visualize the impact of lantern lights, here are a few inspiring examples from top-name lighting brands:
The Arcadia Hanging Lantern offers a balanced mix of old and new elements, which form a more transitional design. The aged bronze finish feels a touch rustic, but the straight, lean structure is of modern descent. Of course, if you really want to make this a truly trendy accessory, pair it with an elongated filament bulb. It will keep the light proportional to the fixture, while adding forward-thinking flair.
There’s not much to this hanging lantern or its counterpart, the Rhodes Outdoor Wall Light. Their shapes are tailored and clean, like a fine suit. There is, however, a touch of drama with their seedy glass shades; but it’s more comforting than it is rambunctious. It reminds you of a lazy day, cozied up on the couch, watching rain drops slide down the window pane. You feel at ease, which is why the hanging light is best suited for outdoor living spaces. Center it above your seating area, and then call a few friends over for dinner.
If you want to spark a conversation, the Dana Point Hanging Lantern will do exactly that. The 22-inch tall, three-light fixture hangs with a presence – and not just for its size. In true modern lighting fashion, this lantern mixes metals to create a striking contrast. Like a striped accent wall, two stainless steel bands wrap around a textured black frame, making the lantern appear even larger. Pair this bold piece with sleek modern furniture, so it can complement the lines but still stand out.
Take a page from the history books with the Colonial-inspired Henry Street Wall Light. Like the street lanterns of yore, this design has a rugged iron finish and flirty finial-topped housing. The hook-and-ring accent at the top makes it feel like a portable lantern, but this is one you won’t want to move. It immediately looks like it belongs, thanks to the weathered metal and seeded glass. Mount one on either side of your door or on a stone column to add warmth to your back porch.
Exterior lighting extends far beyond your deck or patio. Think about any walkways you might have or your pool deck. These areas call for the clean and versatile Beacon Hall Outdoor Post Lamp. It comes with a robust shape and several finish options, including Natural Iron and Coastal Bronze. If you prefer your path light blend in, go for the smoky earth tones, like bronze and mahogany. Regardless of the finish, this lamp’s LED light will create a warm, inviting tone at only 2700 Kelvins. So post it up in your flower garden or use a couple to guide guests to your door.
The Trellis Pathway Light has undeniable personality with its decorative metal swirls and petite seeded-glass housing. You can just imagine a friendly fairytale creature living inside, tending to the yard during the day and lighting a walking path at night. This outdoor lighting fixture is so whimsical and bright, you’ll want to use it all throughout the backyard – and you should. The 30-inch Trellis is stronger in numbers.
Square footage is no issue for the Santa Barbara Outdoor Pier Lamp. At only 12 inches tall and 10.5 inches wide, it will fit wherever you need it. Use it as an accent in the center of your patio table, place it on a ledge or let it sit on the ground by your feet. The three candelabra bulbs provide just enough light to set the mood for telling stories or roasting s’mores. In fact, the Sienna finish on this lantern makes it look like this fixture has a few stories of its own. The housing is like a weathered leather, which – ironically – will never get old.
Is your backyard built for entertaining? The Montego Outdoor Pier Lamp will make you the host with the most, thanks to built-in Bluetooth speakers. The farmhouse-inspired design already makes this a stylish accent piece, but the integrated technology takes it to the next level. Enjoy your favorite music, while sipping wine and watching the sun set. You’ll still have plenty of energy-efficient light shining through this crosshatched lantern to keep the party alive all night long.
Let There be Light
Stop wasting precious square footage and start making the most of your outdoor space. There’s no excuse. No matter how big or small, it can always fit a couple outside lantern lights. Once you find the right type of lantern in the style you like, your backyard (or back patio) will go from ignored to illuminated in an instant!