Hanging Gas Light Lantern

Finding the right lantern to meet your needs can seem overwhelming. Lanterns come in countless shapes, sizes, finishes, and styles. There are a number of customizations that can be made and accessories that can be chosen. They can be placed in many places both indoors and out. But fear not, your friendly team at French Market Lanterns has put together these guides to help you to narrow down your selection. 

Where is the Lantern Going to be Located?

“Where is the lantern going to be located?” is actually a fairly loaded question. At the most macro level, the geographical location must be a factor in your selection. Mountain populations deal with altitude and wide temperature swings between summer and winter, while those near the ocean have salty sea air that leaves a film on surfaces. The wind is a factor in the central plains to the Midwest, and on the East coast where hurricanes are frequent. Perhaps it rains quite often where you are, or maybe it’s arid and fires can be easily sparked. Your location dictates the type of material, window casing, and mount type for your lantern to ensure it can stand up to Mother Nature’s elements.

Underwriters Laboratories (UL) ratings indicate at which conditions each lighting fixture should be used. Lanterns for wet and damp areas are manufactured with seals and gaskets to prevent water from accumulating on electrical parts. Here are the three rating types:

  • Wet-rated: For areas that are fully exposed to the elements like rain, snow, and heavy fog or salt air. 
  • Damp-rated: For areas that are protected from water and excessive moisture (such as salt air).
  • Dry-rated: Should not be used outdoors. 

Next, where is the light being placed in relation to the building? Is it indoors or out? Is it being used to welcome guests to a front door, to safely guide people down a hall or walkway, or to illuminate a patio? Is it affixed to a wall as a sconce, hanging as a pendant, or on top of a post? This more specific location not only affects the necessary UL rating and mount type, but also determines the purpose of the lighting. This brings us to our next consideration…

What is the Purpose of the Lantern?

There are four types of lighting: general lighting, task lighting, accent lighting, and decorative lighting. When layered together properly, it allows for the opportunity to select and adjust the lighting for each activity, and adds to the design of a space. 

  • General lighting: Provides uniform lighting to an entire area so a person can perceive the shape and size of a space and travel safely through it. General lighting fixtures are often recessed into the ceiling, and establish the mood and overall illumination level of a room.
  • Task lighting: A more direct form of lighting, task lights allow the user to see the critical details of an activity. This can be done through pendants, portable fixtures, recessed lighting and more. 
  • Accent lighting: Accent lighting is used to bring attention to an element or object. Considering the surrounding lighting and angle is important to create the contrast required to properly highlight and cast interesting shadows.
  • Decorative lighting: Decorative lighting creates an ornamental focal point. These can include chandeliers, sconces, neon tubes, holiday lights and more. The light in these fixtures should not be too bright so that they can be comfortably admired.

Lanterns typically fall into the categories of task lighting and decorative lighting, but can be considered a general or accent light in certain applications such as over a door on a porch. 

Knowing the purpose of your lantern helps you to decide where it should be located in relation to the area or object that requires illumination, through which placement method, and how much light should be emitted. 

What is the Right Size for My Lantern?

So you’ve narrowed it down by location, purpose, and size – but there are still a number of beautiful options. How should you decide what style is right for your purposes? Worry not, this is the fun part!

First, you will want to consider the home or building where the lantern is being placed. Notice the architectural details: Are there any unique qualities? Are your doors, windows, and roofline curved or geometric? What about the accents? Your lantern should reflect some these details. Coordinating outdoor lanterns to your home’s trim will also ensure balance, even if it doesn’t match the other fixtures. 

Now to choose the overall style. French Market Lanterns’ website has an option to filter by this category right from the start, making it a great place to begin your search. 

  • Colonial: These lanterns have simple design elements. They are proportional and symmetrical and tend to go into spaces that are designed similarly. However, when added to a modern home, they can bring much-needed warmth. 
  • Traditional: The Traditional style harkens to the 18th- and 19th-century European decor. These designs often feature detailed millwork.
  • French: French lanterns combine the old with the new. While they have a rustic touch, they are also chic, bold, and extravagant. 
  • Mediterranean: The Mediterranean style has simple and romantic aesthetics that originated in the Southern European countries. Natural materials and warm tones are used to create a look that is both uncomplicated and bold. 
  • Modern: Modern designs will have clean lines, be composed of a simple color palette, and use materials like metal, glass, and steel. It is sleek and clutter-free.

Finally, you will need to choose your lantern’s finish. Solid copper is often the base of some of the best outdoor lights, and develops a charming patina over time. The copper can be sprayed or plated over to change the look to be black, nickel, or oil-rubbed bronze. Having trouble deciding? Take note of your current fixtures and accessories like doorknobs and faucets. Adding light fixtures with a similar finish will make your space more cohesive.