Today’s chic lanterns can dress up your home, yard or brunch table

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Retailers are putting out an array of chic lanterns that can dress up a home or garden.

The soft glow of candle-light twinkling through a glass lantern is quaint and romantic. It harks back to an earlier time, before electricity.

Lanterns are about as ubiquitous today as they were back then, especially where home retailers are concerned. Pottery Barn, West Elm, Restoration Hardware, Arhaus — they all carry variations of them. So do discount retailers and hardware stores like Target, Walmart, Ace Hardware, Lowe’s and Home Depot.

Unlike yesteryear’s lanterns, which often burned oil and came in a handful of styles (most notably those round, enamel-coated ones), today’s come in all shapes and sizes, are made of wood, metal and glass, and range in price from a few dollars (Ikea’s Rotera is $3.99) to a few hundred dollars ($345, Restoration Hardware’s Duomo). They’re coated in colorful enamels (Ikea’s Gottgora is a lacy pink concoction), polished shiny as a mirror (Pottery Barn’s Malta Lanterns) and created with rustic materials (West Elm’s Wood + Rope Lanterns). Some are frilly and Victorian in style, others clean-lined and modern.

They can be displayed inside and out and can be used to light up a path, stairway, porch, backyard deck, dining table, coffee table or mantel. You can hang them from trees branches, pergolas and ceilings in your home.

But lanterns can do a lot more than serve as candle vessels. Louise Meyers, owner of Pryde’s of Westport, lent us a trunk-load of beautiful lanterns — and one lantern-esque bird cage — to play around with.

They’re great for building vignettes around, particularly with items displayed inside. It’s an easy way to add interest, year-round, to dining room and coffee tables, fireplace hearths and mantels, porches and decks. When the season changes, just change the fillers.

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