I don’t think we use enough sconces in residential lighting. Sure, most manufacturers present sconces. At the just completed, Lightovations lighting show in Dallas, I saw a few exciting sconces that I would love to see used, but my deep seated fear is that they will be considered by interior designers and ignored by everyone else. That said, this is my plea to keep sconces top of mind.
Here’s an idea I love. Forget the foyer chandelier and use a collection of tall sconces positioned around the perimeter of the space. Of course, the architecture must be compliant. When it is, this can be a great alternative, especially when the foyer is single-story.
Perhaps you are not inclined to forgo the chandelier in a two-story space. Consider this. Use a smaller diameter foyer pendant or narrow and long chandelier and add a few sconces. This will add a layer of light variation that will supply depth and interest to the room.
Sometimes I feel like a one-man band reminding people that the best bathroom lighting is a sconce on each side of the mirror rather than one long piece, over the top. Every expert and almost every book written about lighting tells us this, but the economics of one outlet box vs. two is too powerful. Over mirror lighting is unflattering and is so laden with glare, it is considered the most egregious luminaire for senior eyes in the entire house. So I’ll say one more time with feeling, “Use sconces on each side of the bathroom mirror used for personal grooming. Your eyes and make-up will thank you.”
Most hallways are now illuminated with a string of recessed cans down the center. There is nothing wrong with this, but it is predictable and somewhat boring. To elevate these pedestrian areas, why not consider using sconces instead?
Recessed can lighting, 22’-0” overhead in a two-story Great Room is very close to being useless. The light is so far overhead, the amount of measureable light is minimal. Nonetheless, light is very important in these communal areas. Floor and table lamps are crucial, but sconces can add a layer of light that serves two purposes. The light, closer to the user become functional, unlike the faraway cans. On a massive 20’-0” to 24’-0” wall surface, the space can be humanized and brought into better perspective. The room takes on a more intimate appearance. Forget the light kit on the overheard ceiling fan and the useless recessed cans in a two-story Great Room and replace them with sconces.
Forget the bed lamps. Use a sconce on each side of the bed with an individual control switch. Using a sconce rather than a lamp will save tabletop space and can be very effective in smaller rooms.
As some designers have eliminated upper cabinets in kitchens, the light needed on countertop surfaces must be provided by something other than under cabinet lighting. Sconces are a natural option. They also add an element of design to the now blank walls.
When ceiling heights were typically 8’-0”, 8” to 12” sconces were common. With 9’-0” ceilings now common and 12’-0” readily found, sconces must be taller, lest they appear puny and out of scale with the home. Seek out taller pieces. Forget anything under 18”. In multi-story foyers or great rooms, even taller units should be used.
While many 24”, 36″ and 48” linear sconces are now available, recently, I have seen some exciting “string” products that can be installed like a sconce. Think of a string of pearls. Both ends use a type of canopy to connect to a surface. If one end is installed, say, 3’-0” from the next, a beautiful drape can be created. One end on a ceiling or wall can create a type of sconce that drives down a long wall surface. Some manufacturers are using plain white balls, others crystal baubles. Regardless, this is a wonderful option to create interest on wall surfaces.
Please don’t let me sing this song alone! Sconces are a meaningful way to add light to many spaces in a home. Let’s all do our part to make sconce a more meaningful way to light residences.
2 replies on “Don’t Forget Sconces!”
Yes! This designer hears you! I’m on team Sconces!
We even had custom gold sconces made up in the ’60s fashion with the light facing up and down and pin hole pricks of light to light up each side of our fireplace.
I’d love to use those string lights for a gutsy client, what fun!
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Really, REALLY !!!! loved your article on sconces. Maybe saying a wall sconce is like a nice window letting in light could persuade home owners to use more of them. Thanks for the news.
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