How To Decorate With Sconces

Wall sconces have been around for a long time, dating back to when candelabras fastened to walls and gas was used to light them. According to Britannica, wall sconces were the first type of light fixture used for domestic needs and still are today. These antique light fixtures continue to make a home for themselves in today's interior design, although the use, form, and placement may be more modern.

Lighting your home the right way can lift the mood and change the atmosphere. Placing fixtures that cast ambient lighting will make a room feel more like home. The natural glow of a wall sconce cascades throughout the hallways, over a gallery wall, or along a bedside to provide the soft illumination you want to light up your dwelling. Wall sconces are a versatile decorative item that will elevate any interior decor scheme. So how exactly does one incorporate wall sconces into their home decor? By drawing inspiration from your home and your needs, of course! Continue reading for designer-inspired ways to decorate with wall sconces in your home.

Display identical sconces around wall art

A popular way to incorporate wall sconces into home decor is by pairing identical pieces on either side of a frame or canvas wall art. Imagine a brass, black metal, or gold-painted pair of sconces casting a warm glow around a favorite piece. The combination of light makes the artwork a focal point on your wall. This statement setup can anchor a look in a bedroom, hallway, or living room area.

Carefully plan what the wall decor will look like before installing any hardware. Before hanging up art or sconces, you can arrange the pieces together on the floor. "This will help you visualize the final result and provides an easy way to measure when you start hanging," says designer Adrienne Robideaux to The Spruce. The priority is achieving a desirable layout that leaves enough space for the art and the fixtures to exist cohesively. To ensure enough room for your wall sconces, measure your art and wall sconces accurately to avoid errors. The scale and proportion of the items should be connected.

Hang around a gallery wall

If you have an existing framed gallery display on a wall in your home or plan to incorporate one into the decor, consider complementing the design with wall sconces above frames. Wall sconces are an attractive decorative accent to hang above a grid-style gallery wall. They will help you create the perfect gallery wall. The glow from the light fixture illuminates framed art or photos and "invites you to stand close for a look," said lighting designer Doug Russell to Architectural Digest. If there is room above the display for lighting, find your perfect fixture to light up the space.

The number of wall sconces you use to adorn your walls will depend on your gallery wall style. Centering each fixture will typically be the most visually appealing. The central placement creates cohesion and aligns the elements. For example, if you have three columns of frames and two rows, you most likely want to purchase at least one wall sconce for each column — three in total. The fixtures will alter the gallery wall layout, so place them to ensure an accurate fit for all the pieces.

Use for bedside lighting

If you want to maximize space on your bedside tables but still need lighting, turn your decorating efforts toward unique ways of incorporating light. You can install wall sconces along the bedsides, eliminating the need for a table lamp. According to Apartment Therapy, unlike traditional nightstand lamps that take up tabletop space, wall sconces provide sufficient light without covering surfaces. This approach is an alternative to the lamp, corner light fixture, or bright overhead bulbs typically found in a room. This solution is ideal for those who still need a dim task light but want to free up flat spaces for other items like alarm clocks, candles, and books.

This decorative approach is highly customizable, and you can choose from a range of wall sconces to adorn your bedsides. For maximum functionality, consider decorating with a set of swing-arm style wall sconces. This specific light fixture style boosts usefulness and is portable. You can literally swing the light in any direction. A pretty cool feature to have at your fingertips to avoid stumbling in the dark.

Focus on the direction of light

Which direction do you want the light to face, up or down? The answer will determine which light fixture style you shop for to produce the desired mood in your space. Not all wall sconce fixtures emit light that faces the same direction. It can be outward, upward, downward, or a combination. When decorating a bookcase or wall shelves with wall sconces in the above space, it's ideal to have the direction of the light aim downward to illuminate objects underneath. As per, downlights cascade toward the floor to create the ultimate cozy atmosphere. The soft glow trickles down the wall introducing warmth into the area and illuminating hanging wall decor.

If you are not illuminating any object on the wall or using the lighting for tasks, consider shopping for wall sconces with an upward or downward light direction or one that shines bright in both directions. The upward-facing light is perfect for smaller spaces that need more illumination. The light points up, illuminating the room and casting unique shadows as it reflects off the ceiling. Choose the direction of light based on your space as not all wall sconces will illuminate it the same.

Combine sconces with a mirror

You hang a mirror, but the design on the wall still needs something. A wall sconce, to be specific. You can pair a set of wall sconces or a single one above a mirror for the right amount of light to check yourself before heading out the door. Wall sconces are an ideal way to decorate a mirror. Before finalizing a fixture for the wall, consider "the amount of light from other sources, including natural light, and work how much light you'll need your wall sconces to provide," says light experts at Pooky to Homes & Gardens. Following this lighting tip will ensure your next mirror selfie is extra luminescent.

Consider the wattage of the bulb and the bulb brightxness. These are different elements to consider, as there are three classifications of bulbs — CFL, incandescent, and LED (via Bob Vila). LED lightbulbs are energy efficient and have less impact on the environment than other types, making them ideal for wall sconces around a home.

Add brightness behind a sofa

If you decorate with multiple wall sconces around your home, note that the lighting should differ depending on placement. That means the hallway lighting differs from lighting in the bedroom or living room areas. If decorating with wall fixtures in the living room, determine how bright you need the light to be. Will this be the only light source in the room? Where is the source of natural light? These questions are vital to contemplate when planning on mounting wall sconces in the living room area, particularly behind a sofa. Bright light can negatively impact a room, so it's essential to achieve the right brightness level when decorating with wall sconces.

As per SFGate, when decorating with a wall sconce behind a sofa, the wattage of the bulb should accommodate the space and be no more than 100 watts. Maintain the brightness and wattage in the area. A living room should be cozy and relaxing, and an overly luminous light will cast an unwanted glare on the television, disturbing the peace and zen you really want. To ensure your lighting does not affect the atmosphere for you and your guests, start with low light and go brighter as your needs dictate.

Incorporate them into a hallway

Hallways can be dim places in a home, and it's often challenging to incorporate low lighting here. Decorating with a wall sconce in a hallway gives the narrow walkway an illuminated path. Choosing this light fixture style brings an "intriguing, soft smudge of light that brings symmetrical balance and just enough illumination to create a curious and captivating dark space," says designer Allison Knizek to The Spruce. Who would not want to capture this essence in their home?

Before choosing a wall sconce for every wall in the hall, consider the other elements going on the walls in the area. Will there be a console table, a mirror, pictures, or art? Do these features need illuminating, or will there be a blend of light fixtures in the space, such as a table lamp? After considering all items, place the wall sconces down the hallway walls in a pleasing pattern at equal heights. Try to use the wall sconces to create directionality in the hall and guide guests to bedrooms, bathrooms, and closets.

Light up the space above the bathroom vanity

Wall sconces produce just the right amount of brightness above a vanity in the bathroom. Bathrooms are often an extension of a bedroom and should evoke the same amount of intimacy and serenity. Aim to create a cohesive aesthetic with wall sconces that nod to your decorative preferences. Your wall sconce style should complement existing design elements. Whether your decor style is vintage, Art Deco, contemporary, or western, the light fixtures should mimic the distinct ornamentation.

Once you settle on the perfect piece to light up the bathroom, it's time to choose the placement. This installation step is essential, especially in a smaller room. The light from the fixture needs to illuminate the space so that you can use the bathroom area. The primary purpose of light is to let you see your reflection and get ready for the day. According to Coddington Design, wall sconces in the bathroom should be mounted about 70 inches from the floor and emit outward, rather than directly upward or downward. If you have more than one mirror, position a wall sconce above each one. If there is not enough space above the mirror, try alternative areas such as in the middle of two mirrors or on the side walls.

Place them around a fireplace

Look around your home and find a wall spot in your house where the light fixture can be the focal item and provide additional lighting. According to MyDomaine, rather than pair sconces with other decorative wall items like pictures, art, or mirrors, you can choose to let the fixtures be a statement piece on their own. The bigger the light, the more space it will cover and the more dramatic it will appear on the flat surface. Extra-large wall sconces with geometric forms, multiple finishes, and different shade shapes, as seen on Wayfair, will introduce texture and dimension into the room.

If you have a fireplace in your living room, this may be the place to decorate with a pair of oversized wall sconces. Fasten wall sconces on either side of the fireplace mantel for a pleasing symmetrical display. The dual placement of the fixtures on either side will create structure around the fireplace hearth and provide light when a fire is not crackling.

Install above a framed picture

A classic picture light instantly makes a space look and feel more regal. The light pouring down over the picture and illuminating the image naturally draws the eye. The right wall sconce for a picture frame has a specific shape. This sconce fixture is typically vertically elongated and narrow, often aligning with the edges of a picture frame. The parallel lines created between both wall elements manifest a pleasing design, and there are a variety of colors and widths to choose from, as seen on The Home Depot.

Finding the wall sconce that fits your desired art is crucial for the final design to be cohesive. The goal is to have a wall sconce roughly the same size as the frame you are using or slightly under. Stay away from pairing large lights with smaller frame sizes, as the difference in scale will imbalance the design. Whichever element comes first in your planning will be contingent on the other.

Implement sconces for task lighting

Do you have a dark space in your house that needs some light? Wall sconces are not just for showing off art or mirrors. These wall elements are practical decorative objects necessary for any home with shadowy areas. Wall sconces are ideal task lights since they do not take up any additional sofa or table space to illuminate a wall or corner of a room. "This type of fixture can provide more direct lighting closer to something you're doing, like reading, without needing the entire room to be illuminated," says designer Becky Sturniolo to New York Magazine.

Wall sconces are highly functional and fit just about any wall space in your home. Decorate with a wall sconce next to an accent chair, in a reading nook, or alongside an armchair. Low ambient lighting from wall sconces in these areas is just the right amount of shine and glow one needs to get things done. Like other moveable light fixtures, they enhance a space without any renovation required.

Layer the fixtures

There are no style boundaries for decorating with different wall sconce styles in your home. You can always add a wall sconce into any room regardless of what other light fixtures are there. "Layered lighting always creates many moods for a space," says designer Melissa Wagner to New York Magazine. Layering the lighting in a room allows the decorator to create visual contrast. A combination of colors and textures can emphasize accent pieces and structural elements.

However, this does not mean you can add any light you want with any finish. You still want a cohesive mingling of fixtures in a single area. Opt to keep the finishes the same or blend a mixture of brass, gold, black, nickel, chrome, bronze, and aluminum. You can even combine wall sconces and floor lamps with different lampshade shapes, from round to cone. Blending these light fixture features will accentuate the decorative appeal.

Set the mood

Mood is a feeling, and light is what sparks it. Having a light on or off is one aspect to consider, along with the brightness level. "Light is a powerful thing," shares Theo Richardson, the director of development at Rich Brilliant Willing, to The New York Times. "The right light lifts the mood, inspires productivity, and motivates us." You want to set the mood in your home by choosing wall sconces that light up each space to match how you want to feel. If the environment is calm, keep the brilliance toned down. On the other hand, if it's a space that requires more radiance, turn up the luminosity. Use your judgment but avoid introducing too much light to places where little is needed.

Lighting is essential in a home as it directly affects one's emotions. Richardson said, "Light enlivens the little things," like moments we spend with friends and family. If you are decorating with wall sconces in common areas like living and dining rooms where multiple people gather, decorate with shaded light fixtures for a warm glow. A soft hue is pleasing to the eye and soft on the gaze.

Find balance between light and dark spots

Most rooms have a mixture of lighting fixtures, so it is a top priority to determine which spots to brighten up and which ones to cast in shadow. Before placing wall sconces in any room, inventory the artificial and natural fixtures supplying light. These sources ultimately determine the overall balance of hues in a room. "It's the subtle interplay between light and dark that creates appeal," said Nathan Orsman to The New York Times. This yin and yang effect is crucial in a home since these balanced forces are where elements really shine.

As with most things in abundance, too much light will be overwhelming and wash out any decorative elements. The amount of light facing the right direction will change the room's appearance and contents. Light touches every surface, casting shadows and beams across everything. Wall sconces are a light source a decorator can use to illuminate their space and create the right atmosphere in their home.