4 Expert Tips To Choose A Sconce

Sconces are the perfect way to add some instant style and ambient lighting to a space. These are the types of lights that stick out directly from the wall and, hence, are a convenient way to add lighting without taking up floor or table space. Below we'll cover the main types, styles, finishes and power sources so that you can make the right choice for your home.

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1. What Type of Sconce Is For Me?

As far as the types go, this is a pretty straightforward categorization. Your first type to look into is whether the sconce is for indoor use or outdoor use. If you plan to place the sconce outdoors, it needs to be an outdoor model so that it is rated to withstand the elements. For instance, you should make sure the piece is UL listed for wet or damp areas. Indoor models don't have to take the strain of the elements, so they are made for indoor use.

Another major distinction is whether sconces are armed or flush-mounted. The most common type of sconce light is the armed variety, which has a narrow piece - an arm -  holding the light that extends from the wall. A flush-mounted style sits directly against the wall and typically shines upwards, downwards or in both directions. If you have less space or want a more subtle, ambient lighting, choose a flush-mounted style. Armed scones do well if you want a more direct light source.

2. What Styles of Sconce Should I Go For?

Style is an important consideration in sconces, as your home's style will determine which type of light you get. The major style categories include:

  • Regal: This covers anything with a high sheen and sophisticated cut to it, like a crystal style. Any upper-class style can go with this look.

  • Modern: These have stark lines and no ornamentation, making them perfect for modern or minimalistic styles.

  • Industrial: These types of lights look like they are from the industrial age, often with filament bulbs, matte finishes and functional designs. If you're going for an overall industrial look, choose these types.

Modern Industrial Sconce Black Up & Downlight
Industrial 1-Light Armed Sconce in Black
Industrial 1-Light Armed Sconce
Classic Modern Light Sconce in White
Modern Bronze & Warm Brass Armed Sconce
Long Metal Industrial Light Sconce in Black
  • Lantern: A common sconce style is a bulb encased in a classic lantern. Choose these for rustic, classic or country homes, though there are also sleek modern lantern styles available for contemporary-styled interiors.

  • Classic: This covers any light with an ornamented and usually distressed finish. Choose these for any classic style, like Victorian or Colonial.

  • Farmhouse light: These have bulbs hanging down from a functional shade. They are common in barns and farmhouses, hence the name. Choose these for country, classic and rustic styles.

Modern Lantern Style Sconce
Modern Lantern Style Sconce in Antique Black
Barn Light Farmhouse Styled Sconce
Farmhouse Light Dimmable Black Armed Sconce
Farmhouse Candle Wall Light Sconce
  • Shaded sconce: Some styles have a lamp shade around the light. Choose this style if you want a timeless look and soft lighting.

  • Rustic: Some sconces are made to look like they are a rustic variety that was handmade. One example is a mason jar style with fairy lights inside. These go great in rustic chic, artsy, classic and country homes.

Rustic Orange Classic Sconce
Rustic Flush Mount Sconce
Rustic Dimmable Candle Wall Light Sconce
Rustic Eagle Styled Brozne Sconce
Black Sconce for Rustic Styled Light
Rustic Four Light Sconce

3. What Finish Styles are Best in Sconces?

Finishes make up a wide category of metals. However, you'll find several main types on wall sconces. Below are some of the most common finishes and in which styles they tend to work best.

  • Matte black finish: This simply covers any metal design that has a solid black hue to it. This popular style looks great in modern homes.

  • Polished chrome: This high-sheen silver shade looks good in regal designs or modern looks. Sometimes a more traditional lighting design can also make it work in industrial styles. It's also a must for any home with a bright color scheme.

  • Aged/vintage brass: This warm off-golden tone looks great in classic or regal styles. Also, it is a good way to add some color to a space.

  • Satin nickel: This more matte silver tone looks good in any style, so it's especially good in transitional looks.

  • Bronze: This often-muted brown hue works well if you have a space with darker colors or have a classic space.

  • Gold: If you want a way to add some color and a luxury look, choose a gold finish.

  • Antique copper: This aged and distressed style is good for rustic, industrial and classic looks.

Matte Black Finish Metal Sconce
Antique Nickel Dimmable Armed Sconce
Bronze 2-Light Armed Sconce
Gold 2 Light Arm Light Sconce
Gold Age Brass Light Sconce
Chrome Armed Sconce in Silver

4. What Power Sources Do Sconces Have?

Most wall sconces are hardwired. That means you'll have to run electrical wiring into the light itself. The benefits to this are that you can often attach the light to a switch, adjust it to a timer, make it dimmable if the model allows for that and not run out of batteries.

Nevertheless, there are also options that are battery-powered. If you don't want to mess with electrical wires and don't plan to run the light constantly, this can be a good option for an easy ambient lighting solution.

An even easier solution is to get a corded option with a switch. The cord runs down from the sconce and simply plugs into an outlet. So you get an easy installation without running through batteries. However, you should only choose this option if the cord itself will plug into a hidden outlet, like if the outlet is placed behind an end table. A fully exposed plug could look shabby.

If you plan to use the sconce outside, you might look into types that are solar-powered. When energy conservation is a priority and your yard has plenty of sunlight, they will be a great choice  to create a charming ambience outside of your house.

Jessica started out as an interior photographer, but her love of pretty settings took her to the field of interior design, where she can combine two of her greatest passions, creating and then capturing the beauty of homes.