What is a Lantern?

An enclosure for light that can be carried, hung, or mounted to illuminate indoor or outdoor spaces.


In the context of interior design, a lantern refers to a light covering or enclosure that is both a functional and aesthetic element. Historically, lanterns were made of metal, glass, or paper, and were primarily used for the practical purpose of illuminating spaces before the advent of electric lighting. Today, they serve as versatile decorative pieces that can enhance the ambience of both indoor and outdoor settings.

Lanterns come in a variety of styles, materials, and sizes, making them suitable for a wide range of decor themes. From classic wrought-iron lanterns with intricate filigree work to modern, minimalist designs in glass and metal, there is a lantern to fit almost every interior or garden design aesthetic. They can house candles, oil lamps, or, more commonly in contemporary settings, electric bulbs.

Their versatility is a key characteristic, allowing lanterns to be used in many different ways. They can be hung from ceilings, placed on tables, used to line walkways, or even hung on walls. This flexibility makes them an excellent addition to create a desired mood or atmosphere in a space.


Lanterns are often used in home decor, event planning, and landscape design. They can be placed on dining tables as centerpieces during special occasions or used to light up patios and garden paths in residential settings. In commercial spaces, lanterns are frequently utilized in restaurants and hotels to create warm, inviting atmospheres.


  • What kinds of light sources can lanterns accommodate?

    Lanterns can accommodate a variety of light sources, including candles, oil lamps, and electric bulbs. The choice of light source can greatly affect the lantern's ambiance and functionality.

  • Can lanterns be used outdoors?

    Yes, many lanterns are designed for outdoor use and are made of materials resistant to weather elements, such as rust-resistant metals and waterproof glass.

  • How do I choose the right lantern for my space?

    Consider the design aesthetic of your space, the size of the area you wish to illuminate, and the lantern's material durability, especially for outdoor use. The light source is also a crucial factor depending on the mood you want to create.

Practical Application

When incorporating lanterns into your design, consider their placement to maximize both their functional and decorative potential. For a cozy atmosphere, soft lighting like candles or warm LED bulbs inside lanterns can create a welcoming glow. Layering lights by combining lanterns with other lighting sources, such as floor lamps or wall sconces, can add depth and warmth to a space. Additionally, choosing lanterns that complement the overall design style of your home or garden will enhance cohesion and visual interest.