How to
Decorate with Lanterns

Lanterns are a simple but elegant decorative element that can add a lot to the ambience of a room. Whether they’re shedding light on your deck, shining as the center of a tablescape or brightly occupying the spare corner of a console, lanterns can bring a lot of literal and figurative light to your space. While our lanterns look lovely on their own or grouped together without any additional embellishment, these decorative objects can become part of a fun seasonal or festive theme.

After you have your lantern and candles picked out, take things to the next level with some extra decor. You can create summery ocean-themed lantern decor to add a special extra touch to these already-interesting pieces. Using just four elements, Pottery Barn decorator Audrey Gerber transforms a beautiful, stately lantern into a bright celebration of the sea. Even if you might not consider yourself crafty, you’ll be able to recreate this look in a snap. All you need is a lantern, a large pillar candle and coastal decor elements including sand, seashells, starfish and nautical hemp rope.

Start with a large lantern with glass walls and a door. Open up the lantern’s door and add some decorative sand white to the base. You can spread the sand out evenly or let it form little dune-like drifts to create some dimension inside the lantern. Add a few shells around the edges of the lantern’s interior, focusing on the areas you won’t be able to reach easily once you add the candle, and then add a large starfish to the back of the lantern. Place your pillar candle in the center of the arrangement.

After you add the pillar candle, continue adding shells and starfish to the interior until you have an arrangement that you love from all angles. You can aim for symmetry on all sides or go for a more free-form, asymmetrical design that looks different from any viewpoint. Just make sure all of your decorations sit away from the candle’s flame once the lantern door is closed.

When you’re happy with the way your lantern’s interior looks, shut the door and cut a length of the nautical twine or rope. Make sure you select a braided rope that has that raw, nautical look to really enhance the beachy theme. Carefully wrap some of the rope around one of your starfish, focusing on anchoring the center of the star, and tie the rope gently to the top of the lantern. When you’re ready to light the candle, open the door back up and make any last-minute arrangements before igniting the flame, then sit back and enjoy the warm, beachy ambience.

Keep your lantern decor efforts going with a few other ideas. You can use this concept and adapt it for other seasons or looks as you see fit. Try starting with some decorative colored sand for an extra pop of color, or use vase fillers such as pebbles, marbles or mixed tumbled gemstones to create your base. You can substitute just about anything flame-resistant for the interior shells, or you can opt for an LED candle and fill your lantern with dried flowers.

For example, during the winter holiday season, cranberries, tree ornaments and pine branches can help give your lantern a festive look, and you can top it off by tying some fragrant cinnamon sticks to the front of the lantern with a golden bow. You can even do a Halloween-themed lantern with candy corn, faux cobwebs, a spooky green LED candle and a mini pumpkin decoration for the top. If you’d like to make a lantern that can last all year round, use some of our faux plants and flowers to create a colorful arrangement and set a remote-controlled LED candle in the center. Get creative and see what you can bring to life with your lantern; the possibilities are nearly endless.