10 Ideas on Decorating Indoor Spaces with Lanterns

September 23, 2022

Kouboo collection of rattan lanterns


With its rich color palette, long shadowy light and rapidly shortening days, it’s no wonder autumn is often considered the coziest season of the year. And if the calendar is quickly making you want to curl up in cashmere with a hot cup of pumpkin-spiced anything, we’re right there with you. That’s why we’re taking our design game inside this month, with plenty of ideas for indoor decorating with lanterns.

Before you shift into candle-burning mode, please keep in mind that wicker rattan is flammable, and any lit lanterns should not be left unattended. For carefree decorating, we recommend flameless, battery-powered candles, like these from Amazon.

With that safety disclaimer in mind, we have 10 ways to use versatile and cost-effective indoor lanterns to create the ultimate fall atmosphere in your home. 

Indoor Lanterns on the Mantel

Lanterns framing artwork on either end of a mantel

Photo: Stone Gable Blog

There’s just something about a mantel – particularly during the colder seasons of the year. When the days grow short and the air turns crisp, the fireplace becomes a natural gathering place, and anything you place on the mantel becomes an instant focal point.

Placing lanterns of varying sizes on either end of a mantel is the perfect way to frame artwork, a television or any décor above the fireplace. As a rule, you’ll want to place the tallest objects at the outside ends of your mantel if there is artwork or a television hanging above it. When placed on a mantel, lanterns don’t just provide decorative interest; they add a warm glow with or without a fire below.

Lanterns as Foyer Lighting

Brass lantern on entryway table

Think of your entryway as your home’s welcoming committee, responsible for your guests’ first impressions. With the sun setting earlier in the autumn months, even the brightest entryways can feel dim – that’s where indoor lanterns can serve as both a functional and beautiful design element.

For longer entryways, we love to use indoor lanterns to line either side of the walls and naturally lead the eye (and your guests) into the heart of your home. For smaller entryways, a cluster of lanterns on either side of the door can serve as a welcoming hello or warm goodbye to anyone entering and exiting your home.

Photo: Citrine Living 

Lanterns as Centerpieces

Brass lantern on wooden tray with accessories on coffee table

Photo: Driven by Decor

Around here, we love to update our tablescapes with the seasons, and indoor lanterns are the perfect way to do it. A large indoor lantern serves as an effortless centerpiece on dining room and coffee tables, particularly when combined with seasonal elements like autumn flowers and foliage.

Keep in mind that lanterns don’t need to be used functionally, either. A rattan hurricane easily doubles as a vase for an autumn bouquet or an assortment of seasonal gourds.

Lanterns as Cozy Living Room Accessories

Variety of lanterns in cozy urban living room

Photo: Digs Digs

There’s just something magical about candlelight, particularly during the fall months. And adding indoor lanterns to your living room design is the perfect way to cozy up the space for the season ahead. Smaller lanterns can add an ambient glow on a sofa table, while larger lanterns can anchor the room when set in a corner or at the foot of a chair or side table.

When using lanterns on side tables, sofa tables and coffee tables, be mindful of the lantern’s height. A lantern (or any decorative element) that obstructs your view is too tall for the space.

Lanterns as Eye-catching Décor

Large lanterns on living room floor


There’s no shame in pure aesthetics. Even if you’re not looking for a lighting solution, indoor lanterns can serve as an interesting and eye-catching design element in your home. This is particularly true of extra-large or oversized lanterns, which are perfect in the corners of a room, nestled to the side of a fireplace or placed next to a bathroom vanity.

Of course, ambient lighting is always just a wick away, so we recommend throwing in a flameless or traditional candle for anytime that cozy mood strikes.

Lanterns as Ambient Lighting

Bohemian lantern in eclectic living room

Photo: Bees N Burlap

Using indoor lanterns exactly as intended might not be an outside-the-box idea, but you might not realize how easily and affordably you can alter your home’s lighting design. Using indoor lanterns in rooms with overhead lighting is the perfect way to give the space an entirely new mood.

Use lanterns on side tables or coffee tables in living rooms, hang pendant lanterns in hallways or above nightstands or illuminate the corners of any room with glowing warmth. Experimenting with the size and number of indoor lanterns within your space allows you to easily customize your home’s lighting design.

Lanterns on Windowsills

Lanterns glowing on windowsill with snowy view

Photo: Elle Décor

Candlelight often evokes a feeling of hearth and home – and has done so for centuries. During colonial times, a burning candle in a window was a welcoming beacon to friends, family and even strangers. And while you’re likely not looking to send an open invitation to strangers, a lantern on a windowsill will still give your home a warm, welcoming glow.

An indoor lantern on a windowsill – particularly those that face the street – instantly offers your home a welcoming vibe, particularly on a crisp fall evening.

Indoor Lanterns as Bedside Lamps

Beachy lantern on nightstand of contemporary bedroom

Photo: Living Spaces Blog

Cozying up with a good book is just one of life’s simple luxuries; cozying up with a good book in bed is the epitome of autumn relaxation. If your bedroom could use a warm glow, an indoor lantern on your bedside table can do just the trick.

Replace a bedside lamp with a larger lantern or supplement your existing lighting with a smaller version. In fact, a small flameless candle set in an indoor lantern works perfectly as a nightlight for every member of the family.

Lanterns to Illuminate a Staircase

Large lanterns and scattered white pumpkins on staircase

Photo: Home Bunch

Whether your home features a grand spiral staircase or a modest version tucked into the back of your home, it’s never a bad idea to make sure those steps are illuminated. Indoor lanterns are a stylish way to add a soft glow to staircases all season long. Play around with larger hurricanes on either side of a wide first step, or a smaller lantern midway up.

Hanging Indoor Lanterns

Hanging lanterns on either side of dining room sideboard

Photo: Worthing Court 

An instant throwback to a bygone era, there’s something classic about hanging candlelight. Whether you opt for wall sconces or pendant-style, indoor lanterns can serve as both a décor element and a lighting enhancement.

Best of all, since it only requires a candle, you can hang an indoor lantern without consulting an electrician. This gives you the flexibility of adding a lighting element without committing to the permanence and cost of an electrical pendant or sconce.

With so many ways to add an artistic and ambient touch to your décor, indoor lanterns are your go-to for fall. Whether you use them in the traditional sense or fill them with autumn foliage, miniature gourds or seasonal bouquets, indoor lanterns serve up the eye-catching décor and seasonal glow that’s fully fall approved.