Will Your Outdoor Lighting Last a Lifetime?

The days are definitely getting shorter. In fact, most days when the handsome husband gets home around 7, the sun has already set and it’s nearly dark. Time to turn on those post lanterns and porch lighting!

The Welcome Glow of the Home Fires

In my dreams. It would be so nice if he could come home to something like this.


Yeah, well this house would be nice, too. But I mean it would be nice for him to come home to something so bright and light! Lovely lanterns on the porch, spotlights on the house and trees, and I’m sure there is a light on the drive somewhere we can’t see. Man, it looks welcoming, like it wants to fold you into its loving rooms and put you to bed.

This is what it looks like to come home to our house right now.

No wonder we never get any trick or treaters.

Honestly, we may as well “just hang out a banner that says ‘Don’t come back!'” (Conklin, The Bourne Identity film). Luckily, the husband still does most nights. 🙂

Can Outdoor Lighting Last a Lifetime?

Outdoor lighting is one of those projects we keep meaning to get to, but there always seems to be something more pressing. However, every Fall the subject comes up again and we’re full of regret for our lack of wherewithal.

When we moved in, only one of the dinky little lantern sconces around the front door worked.


It blew maybe two days later. We tried replacing the bulbs, but no luck. When we had an electrician look at them, he said the wiring was completely corroded and would all have to be redone. No budget for that.

Then one day I was running an errand in Lowe’s and saw this:

Portfolio 13 Inch Outdoor Wall Light

Yep, this little piece of China chuck-it costs all of $14.98. No wonder it fizzled under our freezing New Hampshire winters and fried the wiring.

As a stay-at-home parent, I do what most probably do during kids’ naps. No, not laundry, silly reader — I surf the web. And way back when, I was on a mission to find quality lighting, attractive lighting, lighting that would withstand all elements and lead my man back home to me come rain, sleet, snow, and storm!

I found Northeast Lantern.

Northeast Lantern: Made in the Granite State

Somehow, I’m always surprised when I find a vendor/artisan with national reach located right here in New Hampshire. I do our state a disservice. So when I read that Northeast Lantern was located up the road in Exeter, well, I had to take a look-see.

Northeast Lantern was founded in 1987 by Skip Heal. As a 15 year old boy scout, he could often be found fooling around the fire station in Hampton Falls, NH, where his father was fire chief. Golden Eagle, a copper weathervane and lighting shop was next door, and he began working afternoons and summers there. That continued after college until, at age 33, he decided to set off on his own, focusing on brass lighting instead of copper so as to not directly compete with his former employer.

Fast forward more than 25 years, and Northeast Lantern has grown into a completely made-to-order and custom lighting company with more than 50 individually-trained craftspeople and 16,000 square feet (and growing) of shop space. It is now co-owned by Skip’s son Chris.

Chris on our tour of Northeast Lantern.

“We’re basically a high school machine shop on steroids,” says Chris.

All fixtures come wuth the customer’s choice of 7 different hand applied finishes that allow the true craftsmanship of each piece to be told — no lacquer, powder coat, or paint is used. They will patina naturally if kept in the same environment with no flaking, peeling or rusting. Glass is mouth blown.

via Boston Magazine, Photos by Pat Piasecki
via Boston Magazine, Photos by Pat Piasecki

Moreover, each of Northeast Lantern’s fixtures come with a lifetime warranty against any defects in workmanship under normal use — including installation near the ocean. You won’t find that anywhere else. “You don’t need a receipt,” Skip says. “We know our lights. Just send it back if something breaks, and we’ll fix it.”

Kinda harkens back to the days when a handshake was all you needed for a guarantee.

via Boston Magazine, Photos by Pat Piasecki

When asked who serves as Northeast Lantern’s principal designer, Skip quips, “Paul Revere!” But he’s not far off. Most of the fixtures wouldn’t look out of place 200 years ago.

However, many fixtures are modern riffs on traditional designs.

Two new chandelier designs in development.
Two new chandelier designs in development.

Thirty percent of Northeast Lantern’s sales are custom orders. “If you can draw it on a napkin, I can probably make it for you,” Chris says.

Chris thumbs through one of many binders detailing past custom work.
An enormous custom chandelier in progress.
Northeast Lantern recreated the door lanterns for this D.C. home, formerly owned by John Kennedy, based upon old photos and using the size of the bricks to judge scale.
Northeast Lantern recreated the door lanterns for this D.C. home, formerly owned by John F. Kennedy, based upon old photos and using the size of the bricks to judge scale. See my reflection in the glass? 🙂

Northeast Lantern is particularly proud of its Onion Lanterns, which they believe to be the best found anywhere — and by far their best seller. These are gorgeous in the optic glass option.

With my penchant for a twist on the traditional, I love the Round Onion Lantern, rather than the usual ovoid.

Round onion post lantern with optic glass.

But it doesn’t stop there by any means.  Every fixture is customizable and most are already available in post, wall, and hanging options. Fixtures aren’t only for outdoors; wall and ceiling options (including flush mounts) look beautiful inside. Lastly, Northeast Lantern has an array of solid brass chandeliers, as well. Here I’ve assembled some of my favorites for your perusing pleasure. Go ahead and surf, because the laundry just may do itself if you wait long enough!


1. / 2. / 3. / 4. / 5. / 6. / 7. / 8. / 9.

Which ones will I choose for our house? Well, if you happen to be an ace accountant, give me a call. A meaty tax return next spring might finally light my poor husband home.

Next week I’ll begin the One Room Challenge as a guest participant through Calling It Home. I am SOOOOO excited (and SOOOOO nervous) to show you a project in progress — my fresh classic foyer. Hope you’ll come back for the journey!


PS I am thrilled to have my library be featured in this month’s New Hampshire Magazine!!!! Head over to the press page to see the article! I’m hoping that, because it is the “beer” issue, it will have lots of readers. What do you think????


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