What is a Sconce?

A sconce is a lamp that mounts to a wall. In addition to lightening up a room, sconces can change the look and feel of the surrounding area. Some people use sconces to add brightness to otherwise dark areas of the room. Others use sconces primarily as decorative pieces. Sconces come in a range of styles, finishes and designs. Therefore, consider the room’s size and decor when planning to get a sconce. The seven standard sconces are half-moon, wallchieres, lantern wall, candle, swing arm, picture and sign.


Brightness is a key factor in choosing a sconce. At west elm, our lighting collection helps narrow down the many options. Sign and picture sconces feature a bright bulb and a design that makes them cover a broad area with light. Picture lights have a long, slender look. Their name derives from their popularity in art galleries, where they shed light on artwork without detracting from the art’s attention. Sign light and picture lights feature a contemporary and modern finish but other sconces have a more rustic and vintage appeal.


When deciding on all lighting, consider whether the goal is for a sconce to serve mostly as a light or serve as an attractive decorative wall piece. Decorative lights are typically heavier and more visually intriguing than wall lights designed primarily for function. One type of decorative sconce is the wall lantern. Homeowners often put lantern wall sconces on outside walls and in entrance ways. Lantern sconces are bright enough to provide safe outdoor lighting and complement the facade of older homes. Some use lantern wall sconces indoors too. This look especially suits dining rooms, hallways and living rooms in rustic homes.


Additionally, our lighting collections feature several wall sconces and decorative lights. Purchasing several sconces from the same collection creates a nice uniform look in a home’s interior. Collections include stylish and handcrafted lighting, such as glass and crystal. Getting several matching sconces creates consistency and balance in a room. This technique works best if the lighting plan calls for adding a series of sconces along a wall, such as putting a line of three lights across a wall. Lighting collections contain assorted lights, so it’s possible to find other complementary lights too like chandeliers and floor lamps.


Pairing plain, functional sconces with chandeliers makes a room bright and appealing. The half-moon sconce, which is among the most common types of sconces, features a tight and compact design. These sconces take up little space, and they usually end up in corners. Half-moon sconces shed light on the surrounding area, but they require additional accompanying light for maximum visibility. Chandeliers, which hang from the ceiling, work in conjunction with wall sconces to distribute light evenly throughout the room. Chandeliers also complement the accent-style design of many half-moon sconces.


Another option for brightening a room with a sconce are floor lamps. Floor lamps, in contrast to chandeliers, provide primarily functional lighting. Standing in corners, they add visibility to otherwise dark places. Floor lamps have direct and powerful light that illuminates a portion of the surrounding area but doesn’t cover much distance. They commonly stand next to desks and dressers too. With a floor lamp providing supporting light, decorative sconces on the wall become the main focal point of the room.


In addition to size and style, the type of bulb that a sconce has changes its illumination powers. Our hardware and bulbs selection contains a range of bulbs in various colors and watts. This selection also includes wires and other hardware necessary to mount sconces to the wall. To shine brightly, sconces require proper care. At the same time that you change a bulb, wipe the inside and exterior of the sconce off to help it shine at its maximum brightness. This is particularly important for sconces located outdoors that get dirty easily. For a long-lasting light, consider an LED bulb, which burns brightly and has a longer lifespan than traditional bulbs. Bright halogen bulbs do especially well outside.

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