Copper lanterns are timeless and add a little historic charm to any home, whether old or new. An investment you’ll love for many years to come, learn why copper lanterns might be the right fit for your home and personal style.

Copper outdoor lanterns are functional and beautiful elements in an outdoor space. Their warm metallic luster adds ambience and soft light wherever they are used.

Learn where and how to use copper lanterns, where to shop, and even how to care for them.

An entryway to a white brick home with copper lanterns on either side of the wooden Dutch door.
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It’s no secret that outdoor lighting greatly contributes to the atmosphere of an evening outside. You can choose string lights, candles, a campfire, or lanterns to turn your outdoor space into an inviting wonderland.

Lighting makes outdoor family dinners and hangouts extra memorable. Guests attending a celebration will feel like guests of honor when you turn on the outdoor mood lighting.

The right exterior lighting can change your home for the better. Just like choosing lighting for the interior, you can add your own touches to your home’s street appeal and help set it apart from others!

Lanterns are the prettiest, most charming way to add a little historical pizzazz to the exterior of your home. The warm tones of copper lanterns and brass lanterns, especially, feel cozy and inviting.

A copper lantern attached to white siding of a home.

Copper Lanterns

First, a quick look at our exterior before we upgraded.

A house with two garages and a driveway, featuring copper lanterns lining the outdoor walls.

When we first moved into our St. Louis home, I knew immediately that our tudor style house would benefit from copper lighting on the exterior. There’s just something so warm and timeless about it.

A copper lantern adorning the side of a house.

So, when we took the plunge and painted the exterior in my favorite Tudor Paint Colors, we knew it was time to update the lighting, too. Copper lanterns for the win!

We’ve since upgraded to copper guttering as well, and we are thrilled with the look!

An entryway to a white brick home with copper lanterns on either side of the wooden Dutch door.

Why Lanterns?

Lanterns have been used for centuries to illuminate and decorate the world. They basically began as a humble way to provide light while allowing candles to be protected from the wind.

A candle was placed inside a metal container with glass sides, leaving holes in the top for oxygen to keep the flame going.

Lanterns can be made with all sorts of materials – metal, wood, even paper! Copper is ideal for lanterns in all environments because it withstands the elements without corroding.

Initially candles were used for light. Candles for light were replaced by oil to burn, then gas, and eventually electricity. While the ease of electricity ended the need for lanterns to light the way, they are still a popular choice for decorative outdoor lighting.

The beauty and tradition of lanterns continues today, whether powered with electricity or glowing with candles. And copper lanterns are still providing authentic beauty to landscapes and homes everywhere.

A copper lantern on the white painted exterior of a home.

Why You’ll Love Copper Lanterns

  • Warm and Authentic Finish
  • This Metal Last for Decades
  • Only Look Better with Time
  • Set Your Home Apart from Neighbors

Copper lanterns are beautiful and timeless. As they age, their rustic, elegant patina adds character and charm. Above all, they create an atmosphere that’s cozy and welcoming for everyone who visits your space.

Part of the charm of copper is the natural antiquing that occurs. Copper lanterns will not remain pristine on the exterior of your home, and they’re not supposed to.

Embrace the beauty of a weathered lantern and the patina that shows just how useful it’s been through its lifetime.

Copper lanterns on the white painted exterior of a home.

Shopping Tips

  • First, search for your style – Coastal, Traditional, Farmhouse, Modern, and more to find a copper lantern to suit your design preferences.
  • Next, determine how you’ll be using your lanterns. Lanterns can hang from overhead areas like covered decks or porches. Copper outdoor wall lights are also a popular look, like the ones we have throughout our home’s exterior!
  • Price is another factor. Everyone has a budget they’d like to stay within! If you’re shopping on a tighter budget, consider lanterns with a copper finish to get the look you desire. Authentic copper lanterns are not inexpensive, so this is something to consider.
  • Finally, you’ll also need to consider the size you’re looking for. Do you need a large lantern for “street effect” with a big impact? Or maybe something smaller, more intimate and subtle?
A copper lantern on the white painted exterior of a home.

Wall Lights Vs Hanging Lanterns

Next to traditional hanging lanterns, wall lights and sconces are a common style. Copper outdoor wall lights look stunning on the outside of a house. Common places for a copper wall light are surrounding the garage, near the front and back door, and on lamp posts.

Copper outdoor wall lights can be wired as permanent fixtures to be turned on with the flip of a switch. If you’re looking to update existing lighting, it’s really easy to change an old light to a cozy and charming copper lantern.

Of course, if you’re not experienced with wiring, electricians are always available to get the job done correctly and safely.

I love using candelabra light bulbs for a truly authentic and warm look that invites a feeling of calm as the light dances off the copper.

A three car garage on a home painted in a soft white color, with copper lanterns and a bike decorated for the 4th of july

How to Care for Copper Lanterns

Copper lanterns are very durable and won’t rust with the weather. However, they do have a natural aging process that changes the look.

New copper is bright and shiny, while aged copper gets a patina – or verdigris – that darkens it or produces a blue-green coating, like you’ve seen occurring on pennies.

Copper should always be cleaned with a soft cloth, nothing abrasive. Here are a few methods for cleaning your copper outdoor lanterns (turn off electricity and remove lightbulbs when cleaning electric lanterns):

An entryway to a white brick home with copper lanterns on either side of the wooden Dutch door.
  1. Water and Soft Cloth – For normal cleaning, just wipe with a damp cloth.
  2. Lemon and Salt – Wet the lantern and sprinkle with salt. Cut a lemon in half and rub the cut edge of the lemon gently over the copper, removing the tarnish.
  3. Vinegar and Salt – Make a solution with vinegar and salt. Then rub solution onto copper gently with a soft cloth.
  4. Product – Use a product made especially for cleaning copper and follow manufacturers instructions.
A copper lantern on the white painted exterior of a home.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I mix copper lanterns with other metal finishes?

Yes! Mixing metallic finishes is a resounding yes. Consider having a main metal, and then mixing in one or two more finishes. Adding a warm metal like copper or brass can really even out a space with mostly cooler metals like steel and nickel.

Can I use a copper lantern anywhere?

If you’re using lanterns that have a place for a candle, then you can use them anywhere. They look beautiful on decks, in gardens, lining a walkway, at special occasions.

If you want a lantern attached to a home and electricity, then you’ll need to use existing wiring or have a professional electrician do some new wiring for you.

An entryway to a white brick home with copper lanterns on either side of the wooden Dutch door.

Shop This Post

You’ll find a variety of of price points for copper outdoor wall lights and copper outdoor lantern links below. Enjoy!

A three car garage on a home painted in a soft white color, with copper lanterns.

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  1. Thank you for this great post. You have such beautiful taste. I’m wondering if you would share the brighter copper lanterns you used? They seem a little different (simpler in the best way) than the linked options. Thank you!

    1. Hi Erin,
      Our lanterns (by our garage doors and front door) are linked in the “shop this post” section towards the bottom. They are shown right after we got them, as well as after oxidation, so perhaps that’s why they look a little different?
      We special ordered the ones by the garage for a “chimney” style insert inside, as we noted with the link.
      I hope that helps! Thanks so much for your kind words – enjoy!

  2. Some fixtures have a copper patina finish but are not real copper tho quite pricey. Why would I consider such other than less pricey? Does the color hold up better? What about the best flickering bulbs to look like gas light? And would you recommend size and style if I sent a picture of my house ? Thank you!