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How to Transform an Outdoor Metal Lantern in 3 Super Easy Steps

Do you have an old outdoor metal lantern? Let’s give it a makeover and use it for something new. Just follow my 3 easy steps!

I’ve got a super easy DIY project for you today.

You’ll probably be able to get it done in under an hour.

And you’re going to love the final outcome of this simple idea.

Do you have an old lantern laying around somewhere?

Maybe tucked away in a closet or on a shelf in the garage?

If you do then you’re ready to get started.

But if you don’t that’s okay too, just keep a look out when thrift shopping to snag one.

And save this post to Pinterest so you remember it later.

Or if you’d prefer you can always buy a new lantern and skip a step in my makeover that I’m sharing below.

Some of the items used in this post include affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no added cost to you. You can read our full affiliate disclosure policy here.

Where Can You Use Metal Lanterns

fall front porch before adding halloween decor

You can style your home inside and out with all different styles of candle lanterns.

My favorite place to use these large black metal and glass farmhouse-style lanterns is outdoors on my small front porch.

There are so many things you can fill lanterns with each season because the glass will contain whatever you add to them.

How fun would it be to fill them with mini pumpkins, pinecones, acorns, or leaves in the fall?

This photo was taken before I actually bought little pumpkins to fill them with.

woman and dog standing in door way of front door with porch decorated for christmas

Ornaments, greenery, or candles look pretty tucked inside lanterns for the holidays and winter season.

Mom Tip: Only use candles in a lantern with glass in the cooler winter months.

Don’t leave candles (even faux) in lanterns on your front porch in the spring or summer because they could melt!

Ask me how I know this…yup even the faux candles got ruined!

Anne displayed candles in a variety of lanterns of all different sizes and styles on her Christmas front porch.

And because it was colder she didn’t have any issues with her faux candles.

Why Should You Give Porch Lanterns a Makeover

front porch with bench to one side and hanging basket on door

A few years ago one of my lanterns got knocked over by the wind during a storm and the glass broke.

Uh oh!

No worries, I had a simple solution.

I carefully removed the broken glass and turned that side to the back so it wasn’t obvious the glass was missing.

Problem solved right?

Well…nope not for long…because the other lantern got knocked over a few weeks later.

And this time two of the glass panels broke.

Ugh!

How to Transform a Large Metal Lantern

before photo of lantern faded from sun

After more of the glass panels broke, I removed the shattered glass and set the lanterns in my garage.

And they sat there for a year.

I thought about moving the intact glass to one of them and tossing the one without glass so I’d at least have one good lantern.

But then I had an idea to give these baby’s a makeover!

The first step was to remove all the glass from both outdoor metal lanterns.

Luckily, they had little metal tabs around the frame that I was able to bend back to easily but carefully get all the glass out.

rustoleum spray paint can in front of metal lantern on cardboard in grass

Since I had used these lanterns outside for a while, they had really faded from the sun and had seen better days.

The next step in transforming these lanterns was to give them a little refresh with my favorite spray paint.

Rustoleum Paint & Primer In One has great coverage and generally only needs one coat.

I liked the black color so I stuck with that but I wanted the lanterns to have a bit of a sheen so I used a satin finish.

blogger using spray paint to paint outdoor metal lantern

I set the lanterns on a piece of cardboard in the front yard and got to work spray painting them.

When using spray paint be sure to use short quick passes as you cover your piece to avoid overspraying and getting drips.

open door on metal lantern being painted by blogger with spray paint

Leave the door open so you can cover all the edges and you don’t wind up painting your door shut.

Without the glass it was super fast to paint both of the lanterns.

spray paint being applied porch lantern

The fresh coat of black paint was already starting to transform these old lanterns.

The only thing you have to worry about when painting outside is keeping the bugs off your project so they don’t get stuck in the wet paint.

black metal lantern after it was painted black

Wow…looks brand new!

Ok, well maybe not brand new because the glass is gone but they look pretty darn good if I do say so myself.

Now are you ready to get to step three in this lantern transformation?

How to Upcycle an Old Broken Metal Outdoor Lantern

large mum in tall front porch container with lantern and smaller mum inside on rug in front of door on porch

Ta da!!!

I used my old lanterns as flower planters for my front porch.

Do you love it?

small front porch decorated with mums, heirloom pumpkins with a bench to one side and wreath on door

Taking something that was going to get tossed out with the trash and turning it into something not only useful but beautiful.

I may not be able to fill the lanterns up with small items that the glass would contain but now I can add live flowers and plants to the shell of the lantern.

Since I transformed the lanterns I’ve added colorful yellow mums in the fall.

front porch decorated for Christmas holidays with DIY lantern planters

Last Christmas I placed little faux trees in each lantern on my front steps to welcome our guests.

I’m already trying to come up with something different to add this year.

Do you have any ideas?

affordable small front porch ideas for summer

I styled my small front porch this summer with affordable items like my DIY wood planters and a few simple flowers and plants.

The two pots filled with my favorite white sunpatien flowers look just perfect nestled inside the large porch lanterns.

I’m so glad I decided to transform these rather than throw them away.

Now I get to use them all year round without worrying about them falling over and breaking…again.

If you have any questions or suggestions, contact me or leave a comment!

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Rachel

Tuesday 16th of August 2022

I love using lanterns and thanks for the inspiration.

AnnMarie

Tuesday 16th of August 2022

Thanks, Rachel it's such a fun way to reuse a broken piece.

liane

Tuesday 16th of August 2022

how about making or finding (at the dollar store)some small square wood boxes.... maybe 5 or six inches high and stain them to match your wood planter box, for a cohesive look. Then you can add the small flowers or small pumpkins or mini trees in the box

AnnMarie

Tuesday 16th of August 2022

Hi Liane - Thanks so much for reading the blog and taking the time to comment. I love the idea of making wood lanterns to match my wood planters...I may have to try that. Thanks for sharing.

Mike Williamson

Tuesday 16th of August 2022

Nice! Great transformation. BTW--I like your new lanterns.

AnnMarie

Tuesday 16th of August 2022

Thanks so much, Mike. I was so glad that I was able to reuse the lanterns and now I don't have to worry about the glass outside. We appreciate you reading our blog post and taking the time to comment. We love to hear from our subscribers.