Choosing and installing wall sconces

Sconces – wall lights – are almost a required feature for most indoor and outdoor decorations. They always add to the atmosphere and contribute discretely to the overall lighting. Below a few thoughts on how to use them to structure the space and how to integrate them in the rest of the room.
Wall sconces
Wall lamps by CVL Luminaires

Choosing wall sconces

Most sconces will illuminate a wall. Visually, brighter vertical surfaces contribute more to the perceived brightness of a room, than horizontal surfaces.

The sconces usually provide a diffuse light, that contribute to the overall brightness of the room. This means that sconces will rarely be chosen in isolation of the overall room lighting. The light’s colour and tone are also important parameters: warm colour for a cozy atmosphere, colder for a “technical” atmosphere or style.

Sconces are rarely suitable for the complete lighting of a room. The light they provide is light is too homogeneous, struggles to highlight particular areas of ​​interest, and does fails to highlight volumes. A few exceptions are:

  • Narrow corridors, which often lack areas of interest to highlight;
  • Bathrooms, where sconces are traditionally installed on both sides of the mirror above the basins.

The best visual effect is often obtained by illuminating the wall that supports the sconce, and the backlit models are designed with this intent. Some models also illuminate downwards, drawing a portion of ellipse on the wall, and another on the ground below.

Sconces with light-coloured or transparent shades will benefit from a dimmer (usually installed in place of the existing wall switch). The adjustment of the light intensity, will then allow a softer light, and avoid any glare.

Many models of sconces have transparent glass panes, that leave the bulb directly visible. This is the case of many models of outdoor sconces. We do not recommend compact fluorescent bulbs for these types. A standard eco-halogen or LED bulb and the addition of a dimmer are good choices. A better solution is to use a decorative filament bulb – such as those recommended by the manufacturer TEKNA – sometimes called navigation bulbs – although they have now become quite common everywhere. These bulbs are supplied with a lower tension which turns the filament into a warm glowing shape, for a quite pleasing visual effect without risk of glare.

Sconces are often installed in pairs. Three, four or five identical copies on the same wall can produce a truly successful alignment effect, reinforcing the impression of structure and length, thereby enlarging the room.

The installation

From the point of view of the installation, it is of course necessary to ensure the presence of an electrical inlet at the location provided for each wall. This input is connected to a wall switch – which can often be replaced by a dimmer switch. From this point of view, the installation of sconces is either opportunistic (using the existing connections that are in the right place) or must be carefully planned at the time of the refurbishment. The height at which these electrical connection is important: many sconces are not designed to be seen from below and some electricians tend to set the junction boxes too high…

Finding them on our site

You will find a broad collection of superb sconces on our site, of very different styles:

  • Our contemporary wall-lights, with a large variety of styles but always selected for the quality of their fabrication and for the originality of their design;
  • Our classical wall-lights, in particular by Lucien Gau who for the last 150 years has been reproducing superb bronze models from the Dutch, Louis XII, Louis XIV, Louis XV, Louis XVI, Empire and Directoire, of by Estro in Italy following broader inspiration but with the same impressive quality;
  • And our selection of outdoor sconces,  with manufacturers like Faro, Nautic and Objet Insolite (still more are visible on our French site, with Robers, Aldo Bernardi, FIne Art Lamps, Royal Botania…).

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You can find further guidance in the following page:

You can also find below our advice to choose and install the various types of lighting you can find in our catalogue:

And to finish, if you want to start looking for a lamp, our product category catalogue, with all our lighting ranges. Or you can browse our illustrated catalogue of luxury brands.