Indoor and Outdoor Lighting

Elevate Your Exterior: Outdoor Nautical Lighting For Seaside Charm

If you’re looking for a way to bring a coastal look and feel to your home, consider using nautical lights to achieve an authentic feel of the sea. Outdoor nautical lighting lends itself to both contemporary and rustic decorating styles.

Types of Outdoor Nautical Lighting

The most common nautical outdoor lighting is reproduction or stylized lighting, but you can find some actual ship lights that have been converted for home use for a truly authentic look. Here are some popular types as well as some ideas for how to use each:

Outdoor Nautical Wall Light
  • Porch Lights – Several types of nautical lights work well on porches. Lantern-style nautical lamps create a nice, even look when they’re placed on either side of your front door. If you boast a large covered porch, a pendant chandelier rated for outdoor use may provide a dramatic touch.
  • Wall Lights – Nautical wall lights can be used on or near a patio, porch, garage or shed. You can find them in a variety of styles from bulkhead lights to lantern style lighting.
  • Path Lights – There are a few styles of path lights that follow a nautical theme. There are nautical lanterns that attach to a post to be used as post lights as well as styles that are more like stakes in the ground. Nautical-style bollard lighting improves the safety of your home and creates a sense of presence and elegance from the street.
  • Garden Lights – Hanging lantern lamps can provide a graceful touch to your garden area or around a brick or concrete patio. Extend your living space by including lighting in outdoor seating areas. Once you’ve installed your nautical lighting outdoors and have had your first family dinner sitting on the patio, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.
  • Solar Lights – Solar outdoor nautical lighting is a great way to go because it’s extremely easy to install and there are no ongoing costs once you’ve purchased the fixtures. There isn’t a huge selection of solar nautical lights on the market, so you may have to search a bit to find a style that matches your nautical décor, but the effort will be well worth it when you see your utility bill each month.

Vintage vs. Reproduction Nautical Lanterns

Nautical Lantern

As you begin investigating nautical lights, you’ll find a wide range of products on the market from inexpensive reproduction light fixtures to antique lanterns that can cost thousands of dollars. There are advantages to each of these choices.

  • Reproduction nautical lights are generally less expensive, and they’re available in a huge assortment of styles and materials. They’re usually available brand new. If you purchase a light that doesn’t work, you can simply exchange it for an identical product. Finding reproduction light fixtures is also significantly easier than locating antique lanterns. You can also find fixtures specifically suited for a particular area of your home. Bathroom nautical lighting may be easier to find in a reproduction, particularly if you’re looking for something specific, like vanity lights. However, make sure reproduction fixtures you select for outdoor use can withstand the elements.
  • Antique or vintage nautical lanterns have their own advantages. First, they’re actual fixtures that have been salvaged from working ships. Most of the available lanterns are from more recent vessels, but if you look hard enough you can find some antique lanterns that are over a hundred years old. Some lanterns are also salvaged from lighthouses, docks and other marine buildings. A hand-held vintage lantern can become the centerpiece of a room, as can dramatic antique nautical chandeliers. When you consider vintage fixtures, ask yourself if you’re looking for just a light source – or if you’re also in the market for adding a slice of history to your home.

Before investing a significant amount of money in an antique fixture, inquire about its condition. Is it wired to work with your home’s power system or is it an oil or candle lantern? What’s the guarantee if you receive it and it doesn’t meet your expectations?

Authentic Nautical Lights Converted For Home Use

You can also find authentic ship lights, like navigational lights, that have been converted and sometimes slightly modified for home use.

Outdoor Nautical Light

Some ship enthusiasts salvage items that are no longer functioning. They’ll rewire authentic nautical light fixtures so they can be safely used with your home’s electrical system. These lights are typically very durable as they’re built for the sea, constructed with cast brass or copper; they’re perfect for outdoor use because they won’t rust or easily succumb to stormy weather.

Many vintage fixtures, like marine navigation lights, were mounted on the exteriors of ships and lighthouses, so they will be more weather resistant. Just be sure to keep in mind where you’ll be using the light fixture, and verify you’re purchasing the right fixture for the right location before you make a large investment.

Tie It Down and Ship It

When you decide to use nautical lighting as part of your overall decorating plan, be sure to consider tying your interior and exterior themes together, or at least make sure they flow from one another. 

While you don’t have to use light fixtures that match exactly, it’s still a good idea to be mindful of how they look and feel together. If you’re using nautical lanterns on your porch, for example, you might carry the theme inside with pendant-style nautical chandeliers. In the kitchen and bathroom, you may need to rely more on stylized lights rather than authentic nautical lighting, but creating a coherent whole will pay off in the long run.

Whether you desire a rustic feel or more of a contemporary panache with a seaside theme, outdoor nautical lighting provides a great way to give your home distinction — a way to bring a coastal décor into your home.