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Light Up Your Life with Lanterns

According to the language of Tarot, the Hermit holds his lantern high in his search for enlightenment and truth-seeking. Throughout the year in China, festivals are bedecked with hundreds of glowing red globes, the red paper lanterns that are the traditional symbol of joy and good fortune. In Mexico for centuries, the humble tin can has been transformed with patterned piercings into a lantern that throws off a magical twinkling of pinpoint lights.

The pairing of beauty and usefulness makes lanterns of great interest to designers and homeowners looking for big impact in almost every room.

Here, in a dining room, designer Ashley Whittaker has used a gilt lantern with a boiserie finish to bring drama to a table setting. As an alternative to chandeliers and swag pendant lights, lanterns have become a very popular choice for over the dining table in the past few years.

The Urban Electric Co. has made its name for creating spectacular lanterns that blend high-end finishes and design that also give a nod to the past. Here in this otherwise traditional kitchen, the lanterns convey an immediate stamp of cutting-edge cool. Their form may recall old-fashioned carriage lamps, but the acid green finish and gold hardware place them firmly in the now.

Similarly, in this entryway, the Urban Electric Co. lantern strikes an edgy balance between traditional elegance and look-at-me glitz.

The gentle forms of timeless Asian paper lanterns can lend a boho calm to living rooms and bedrooms. They radiate a wonderful light and seem to float in air. Paper lanterns can be a very inexpensive lighting solution or a quick fix when you haven’t made a long-term choice yet.

In this Moroccan-themed bedroom, the combination of ethnic textiles, richly detailed rugs, and wicker make a perfect backdrop for these Asian-influenced glass and metal lanterns.

With spring and outdoor leisure on the horizon, now would be the time to try a fun DIY project. Create outdoor lighting by making your own version of the Mexican pierced tin lantern using cleaned empty food cans. Devise a pattern—it can be as elaborate or as simple as you want—and draw the pattern on the can with a marker. Fill cans with water and put in the freezer—a rigid can will make your punching easier and keep the can from denting. Using an awl, metal punch, or household nail, hammer holes into the can using your marked pattern.

Place a candle or no-flame tea light in the base of your can and, voila, you have a charming lantern for your outdoor space.


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  • Interior Design

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