How to Choose a Sconce

Just like overhead lights and table lamps, there are many types and designs of wall sconces to suit every style and purpose. Most people use sconces in hallways and bathrooms as decorative accents and for additional ambient lighting.

In this sconce buying guide, we look at some of the key factors to consider when looking for the perfect wall sconce for your home.

Why Do You Need Wall Sconces?

Wall sconces, also known as wall lights, provide ambient illumination and ornamental decoration in your hallway, bathroom, bedroom, and even in outdoor spaces.

They serve a wide range of functions such as reading in low but comfortable light, task lighting, and they even enhance general safety at home. As part of your layered lighting system, wall sconces enhance the beauty of your interiors and the utility of your home.

How many sconces do you need?

Placement is an important factor to consider when you want to get the most out of wall sconces. It is recommended to hang the wall lights at an eye-level of around 5.5 to 6 feet depending on the height of your ceiling. Keep in mind to avoid hanging the lights at a height that puts you on an eye-to-eye level with the bulbs.

The number of sconces you need will depend on the length and lighting needs of the space you want them installed. The rule of thumb is to have one fixed after every 8 to 10 feet on a long dark corridor or hallway.

Most people prefer to stagger the lights across the hallway in varying heights for a more natural configuration. Low profile wall lights are recommended for narrow hallways and staircases or rooms with heavy traffic close to the wall.

What is the best sconce style for your house?

The most important thing most people consider is how good the sconces will look on their walls. You definitely need wall lights that fit your home’s style and décor while still serving the purpose it was intended for.

In terms of style, there are different types of sconces including the following:

Contemporary Style

Contemporary sconces come with straight forward style and sleek lines. Most feature geometric shapes and modern glass finishes to give your room a contemporary look.

Metal Round Damp Fabric Off White Wall Sconce
Metal Stainless Steel Drum Cylinder Clear Glass Dry Armed Sconce
Metal Glass Clear Dry Up & Downlight
Metallic Dry Plug In Swing Arm Lamp
Metal Steel Glass Damp Armed Wall Sconce

Rustic Sconce Style

The rustic sconce style is quite popular in quaint or country home designs. It features rustic lighting integrated with organic shapes and textures to give the room a warm relaxed look. Combinations of wood, metal, and glass are your best bets.

Glass Aspen Bronze Dry Rustic Flush Mount
Wood Metal Fossil Stone Damp Rustic Candle Wall Light
Burnished Bronze Stainless Steel Metal Glass Bell Damp Rustic Armed Sconce
Square Rectangle Orange Red Yellow Light Brown Glass Dry Rustic Flush Mount
Glass Metal Stainless Steel Imperial Bronze Damp Rustic Armed Sconce

Retro Sconce Style

Retro sconces are basically traditional fixtures with designs reminiscent of the 1960s and 1970s designs. The style features curved frames, frosted glass, and antiquated bronze finishes. Rustic sconces have a richly ornamental style that calls to mind the vintage European look.

Aluminum Steel Metal Damp Retro Dimmable Oil Rubbed Bronze Armed Sconce
Beige Brown Fabric Dry Flush Mount
Metal Marble Damp Retro Armed Wall Sconce
Brass Matte Black Metal Dry Retro Armed Sconce

Modern Sconces

Modern sconces have a trendy style designed to give your bathroom or hallway a neat sophisticated look. Most have a flush mount that barely protrudes from the wall. They have a minimalistic design for small spaces and are typically made of just one type of material.

Metal Fabric White Dry Modern Armed Sconce
Square Rectangle Glass Damp Modern LED Flush Mount
Black Metal Wet Modern Armed Sconce
Iron Stainless Steel Dry Modern Dimmable Armed Sconce
Stainless Steel Abstract Metal Damp Modern Flush Mount

Art Deco Wall Sconces

Art Deco sconces have a bold design with shiny retro sophistication, perfect for chic and glam interiors . They are usually made of sleek chrome and glass materials and can even be modified for a more modern look.

Glass Clear Etched Metal Damp Art Deco Flush Mount
Clear Glass Metal Dry Art Deco Flush Mount
Brushed Nickel Acrylic Plated Iron White Metal Dry Art Deco Flush Mount
Bronze Glass Clear Metal Dry Art Deco Flush Mount

Transitional Style Sconces

Transitional wall lights are a blend of contemporary and traditional styles. They combine features and materials used in both new and old timeless designs such as elegantly curved frames, decorative ornamentation, and a modern minimalist design.

Opaque Metal Damp Transitional Wall Sconce
Gold Metal Dry Transitional Armed Sconce
Black Steel Adjustable Dry Transitional Spotlight
Metal Steel Drum Cylinder White Fabric Dry Transitional Swing Arm
Glass Clear Round Metal Steel Damp Transitional Armed Sconce

Industrial Wall Sconces

Industrial sconces feature a turn-of-the-century design made to give your rooms and spaces a gritty urban look. They are made from patinated metals and often come with vintage bulbs for a more dramatic lighting effect.

Cone Chrome Metal Silver Industrial LED Armed Sconce
Black Abstract Steel Metal Dry Industrial Armed Sconce
Glass Clear Round Metal Steel Damp Industrial Armed Sconce
Drum Cylinder Brass Black Metal Dry Industrial Armed Sconce
Bowl Iron Metal Dry Industrial Armed Sconce

When choosing the right style for your home, you may need to consider how each type of wall lights matches the rest of your home’s décor. Take time to browse through different types to find one that best suits your needs.

Some of the most popular types of sconces worth looking into include:

  • Uplights which give you a wash of light on a wall for better accent and atmosphere

  • Downlights which add accents to walls while illuminating the ground below for more practical purposes

  • Flush mounts have no protruding arms and are mounted directly on a wall. They are the most unassuming type, so consider them if you need general illumination in your hallway, but do not necessarily want to draw to much attention to the lighting fixtures.

  • Candle style sconces lean towards the rustic and vintage aesthetic and are since they do not procuce bright light, they are often used to create romantic, intiate ambiane in a room. Modern types just mimic the effect of a burning flame, but there still ones that use real candle to be found.

  • Swing arm lights with adjustable components that give you flexibility to direct the light to any place where you need it. They are ideal for nurseries, reading areas, and bedsides.

  • Wallchieres mimic a torchiere lamp and tend to be used on both sides of a mirror, wall art, or fireplace.

  • Vanity lights for a glare-free illumination

  • Picture lights that draw attention to specific items such as your wall hangings and pictures

Steel Metal Glass Frosted White Damp Armed Sconce
Gold Black Metal Dry Plug In Armed Sconce
Metal Polyresin Wet Dimmable White Washed Driftwood Candle Wall Light
Stainless Steel Metal Gold Hued White Fabric Damp Wallchiere
Gray Black Wet Recessed Light

What is the best material for wall sconces?

It is important to remember that the materials your sconces are made of will have an impact on how they look and their overall performance. Most sconces are made of brass, iron, and wood although there are many types today made of glass or even plastic.

What you need to remember is that once the wall light is installed, it will not receive much wear and tear and will last for a long time regardless of the material it is made from.

However, its location may affect its durability. For example, if you plan to install outdoor sconces, make sure they are made of materials that can withstand the elements.

Can you install the sconces by yourself?

One of the key issues faced by most buyers of sconces is installation. You may like the performance and look of a sconce but if the installation is a pain, then it won’t be of much use to you.

If you plan to install it by yourself, make sure it comes with an installation manual with step-by-step instructions on how to set it up. Even if you are hiring someone else to install it for you, make sure the entire installation process is not too complicated or you might end up with a bigger bill than you anticipated.

How much does the sconce unit cost?

Like everything else, the cost of sconces varies depending on the type, aesthetic appeal, size, and functionality. Fortunately, there are affordable models that cost as little as $20.

There are also fancier models with price tags of over $1,000 per set. Depending on the features you are looking for expect to pay between $50 and $150 for a wall sconce within an affordable range.

Keep in mind that there may be extra installation charges if you opt to get a professional electrician to install the sconces.

Useful Tips

  • Most wall sconces have a common design and can easily be mounted but if you are not confident with your abilities to do the job right, let a professional do it for you.

  • If you plan to install outdoor wall sconces, make sure they are made of weather-resistant metals, plastic, and glass materials.

  • Make sure the backplate of the sconce can support the weight of the entire fixture.

  • There are different styles and designs of sconce arms including curved and decorative arms. Make sure the arm is long enough to extend from the wall.

  • A good wall sconce should have a shade designed to diffuse its direct light, especially when installed at eye level.

  • Find a wall sconce that includes a dimmer which is perfect for partially illuminating hallways and outdoor walkways.

Lights are inescapably necessary for every home. With the right wall sconce, you’ll not only have a functional light fixture but improve the general aesthetic appeal of your home.

When searching for the best sconces for your home, take time to consider the factors discussed above to make a more informed purchasing decision.

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