What is a Wall Sconce?

A living room with couch and wall sconces

Clean, contemporary sconces can add dramatic light to any room. Consider pairing them on either side of a couch or bed.

Vintage two bulb wall sconce

This traditional wall sconce resembles two candles.

A wall sconce is a light fixture that is attached to a way that it only requires the wall for support. Wall sconces serve both aesthetic and utilitarian purposes. They are used very widely, and hallways, bathrooms, living rooms, and patios are among the countless places to add a wall sconce. There are various options to choose from when deciding to use a wall sconce. Some wall sconces have candles, while some are bulb based. Some are plugged into an outlet, while some are are battery operated.

There are, of course, pros and cons for each different kind of wall sconce. Some look like lamps, with an arm coming out from the wall and an attractive shade. They are very traditional and suit most applications. Lamp style sconces work well with pull chains and switches. They use bulbs with shades that can project the light evenly throughout the room, especially if there are a lot of them set up in the room’s perimeter. Other, fancier wall sconces might have replaceable covers. Some people may want to be able to replace the design of the sconce without touching any of the circuitry or the light sources. Some sconces resemble torches or candles, providing a more natural feel. Homes and restaurants with patios and outdoor areas compliment the outdoor aspect of a torch-like sconce. Some sconces lie flat against the wall, with light seeping out around the edges, while others direct light up with a bowl shape.

Ceramic wall sconce in a ribbon shape

This ribbon wall sconce is made from ceramic and has a classic look.

Sconces suit many different environments, including but not limited to offices, hallways, and indoor environments. Most sconces are wired to a switch, but there are some benefits to having battery-powered sconces. Unlike sconces that are hooked into your home’s wiring, battery-powered wall sconces can be more portable and may save energy. Also, a battery-operated sconce is much easier to install! Keeping a sconce separate from the room’s other light sources can be useful and stylish. It’s nice to be able to have light in just one area of the room as needed.

When buying sconce lights, it is important to have an aesthetic goal in mind. Sconce size can impact the mood of the room, and have practical considerations as well. A two-bulb wall sconce could illuminate a room in less space than two separate one-bulb sconces. This can save space in a small room and avoid cluttering the walls.

Wall sconces can be made of many different kinds of materials: Ceramic, plastic, glass, wood, and even metal. Choosing the right material for your situation is incredibly important to a room’s lighting. A blue ceramic sconce, for example, would highlight cool tones in a room, and a clear glass sconce could allow the warm light of the bulb inside to dominate the color emitted. Metal sconces offer defined, clear-cut shadows and focus light towards a certain area, while ceramic sconces dampen shadows and illuminate more spherically.

Most designers combine overhead lighting, lamps, and wall lighting to create a rich atmosphere throughout a room. For help choosing sconces, call our design consultants at 1-888-320-0630.

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