Sometimes, particular home decor items catch our eye, and we can’t seem to get enough of them! For us, that particular item this year has been lanterns. Whether they’re Moroccan hanging lanterns or nautically inspired lanterns with rope detailing, lanterns are a great way to add some interesting visual detail to your home decor.
History of the lantern
Lanterns are an ancient form of home lighting. First mentioned in texts from ancient Greece, lanterns were also used in societies in Egypt and China. Lanterns are believed to be the oldest source of light that humans used, after open fires. Originally, They were made of clay, which then evolved into wood lanterns, paper lanterns, and silk lanterns. When the use of glass became common, glass lanterns of varying shapes and sizes were created. By tinting or etching the glass, lantern artisans were able to create some truly stunning creations.
Lantern light sources
The simplest lanterns (and many of those we have in our homes) use a candle as the light source. The glass will have cutouts or an opening on the top so the flame can get oxygen. Other times, lanterns use liquid fuel like paraffin or kerosene. A wick is inserted into the fuel, which is then lit. The height of the flame is controlled with a knob that feeds more (or less) of the wick into the bowl. Since many people are uncomfortable with open flames in their homes (or with having them around children or pets), many modern lanterns use light bulbs. These lanterns can be made from any material and are often dimmable to create the same warm effect as lanterns that use fire.
In home decor, there are neverending options for accessories to personalize your space. From artwork to plants, to sculptures, it can be hard to decide which piece will bring the most to your home. When it comes to adding a little something to your space, we love lanterns for their multi-faceted appeal. Lit lanterns add a cozy ambient light that is hard to beat. In winter, lanterns can bring warmth and comfort to space (even if they’re not acting as an actual heat source). Danes are well aware of this, which is why lanterns and candles feature prominently in their homes to promote a sense of hygge, a sense of comfort and self-contentment created by a house that is cozy, warm, and softly lit. Think of it like the feeling you get when you’re snuggled up under a blanket on the couch on a chilly, storming day with a cup of tea at arm’s length and a pet curled up at your feet.
Lanterns can also instantly create an atmosphere in your home that other accessories fail to do with the same aplomb. A cluster of hanging, Turkish lanterns will immediately give a room a feeling of Bohemian ease, while two large, rough-hewn lanterns with glass panels and thick rope handles will provide a room with a sense of nautical style and remind you of wind-swept beaches.
Lanterns can instantly make a room feel homier and more relaxing. The flickering candlelight casting shapes on the walls is not only pretty, but it’s also scientifically proven that candles are a calming light source that can help us relax. Lanterns are also incredibly useful in practical situations, like camping or in off-grid homes. Read more about how lanterns can work as a stable light source in these situations and are much easier to use than simple flashlights.
Where to use lanterns in your home
There are almost as many types of lanterns as there are ways to use them. Here are a few of our favorite ways to use lanterns inside and outside your home.
We adore Turkish lanterns for their magical colors and patterns. These gorgeous lanterns are created with hundreds of small pieces of multi-colored glass that form patterns and cast shapes on your walls when they’re lit. Originally lit with fuel or candles, many Turkish lanterns now use lightbulbs as their light source. This makes them perfect to hang from the ceiling in your home without worry! Cluster a few of them together to create a Bohemian-inspired focal point.
Line the stairs
This is an excellent option for an event. Whether outdoors or indoors, lining the stairs that guests will be coming up with small, lit lanterns will create a romantic, magical path that will set the tone for the evening. If you are using the lanterns outside, make sure they’re weatherproof and that the candles inside are securely contained in case one tips.
Accent your non-functioning fireplace
If you’re lucky enough to have the architectural detail of a fireplace in your home, then lanterns are a great way to get the feel of a fireplace even if your fireplace is non-functioning. We like to pair lanterns with candles in this instance (preferably LED candles for safety), stacking them on blocks to create different levels of light.
Use them near a water accent
The sight of flickering lights on the water is something that can make any summer night feel like magic. Recreate this feeling by lining a pond or swimming pool with large, outdoor lanterns to light up your night.
Line your paths
Walking in the moonlight on a lantern-lined path is a perfect way to make your backyard or front yard homier and more welcoming. For this purpose, we like solar lanterns that turn on automatically at dusk. They require no looking after and are just as pretty as some “real” lanterns.
Light up your garden
To bring some light to your garden in the evening without worrying about jacking up your power bill, consider hanging solar or battery-powered lanterns from the branches of trees or inserting them in flower beds to create pools of light.
Romanticize your bathroom
Even if your bathroom leaves something to be the desired size-wise, lanterns can still add a romantic, luxurious feel to a bathroom. A few on shelves dotted around the room lit while you take a bath can take the experience from perfunctory to lavish.