I’ve Officially Become a Sconce Person, and You Can, Too

published Apr 23, 2019
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Credit: Kimberly Graydon

For the longest time, I was absolutely intimidated by the idea of sconces. Sure, I always thought they looked beautiful, but the ones I loved were always super expensive, and the installation process just seemed too complicated, particularly as a renter.

Within the past year, though, I’ve faced my fears and now have not one but multiple sconces hanging in my home. While the plug-in variety has generally been the best way to go in my current space, I’m learning that with the right help and tools, wiring lighting into the wall isn’t rocket science. Plus, having scoured the web to find affordable options for my own place, I’m now realizing that pretty light fixtures don’t have to cost hundreds of dollars.

“I genuinely like the inclusion of sconces in a space in general,” says Shannon Claire Smith, owner and founder of Shannon Claire Interiors. “They’re a great way to add supplemental or mood lighting to a room, which is so, so important to a fully layered design. I love swing-arm sconces that can be pulled over to your bed or over a chair for reading, but can then be pushed back out of the way when not in use.”

How to Install a Sconce

Renting? Sconces are most likely still a viable option. “You should always check with your landlord or lease first,” Smith says. “In most cases in a rental, it’s totally okay to swap out current sconces, but adding new electrical can be a bit more difficult. However, if you get the go-ahead, this is a great way to make a space look and feel more custom!” Landlord not keen on you drilling into the wall? Fear not, according to Smith. “There is always the option to add plug-in sconces, which require no special electrical work, just a nail for hanging and a plug! I use these all the time in rental projects—there are so many chic sconces that are plug-in nowadays. And embrace the cord. Depending on the style of the sconce, it can be part of the look!”

Keep in mind that depending on your situation, this may be one household project better left to the pros. “With the plug-in options, you can absolutely DIY, as it usually just requires a hammer or a drill and about 20 mites of your time,” Smilth adds. “If you are swapping out current wall sconces with new ones or adding new sconces altogether, always, always consult or hire a licensed electrician.”

Wall type is also important, Smith notes. “If you are hardwiring a sconce, it’s best to have drywall or plaster with wood or metal studs that allow for wiring to be hidden in a wall,” she says. “Exposed brick or concrete is very difficult—and in some cases, impossible—in which to hide any electrical wires. But, all hope is not lost if your walls are made out of these materials! Again, you can always go the plug-in route, or even purchase plastic cord covers on Amazon that can be painted the same color as the wall. It’s a nice way to hide the cords or wires and give it a clean look if the wall can’t be drilled into. In some cases, a seasoned electrician can drill into a concrete or brick wall to bury the wires. It never hurts to ask!”

How to Choose a Sconce

Now for the fun part—shopping for the right piece! If you’re more inclined to purchase a plug-in, I’m a big fan of this Target option (I used to have one in my bedroom, and it provides so much light–here is a similar piece), this mod Urban Outfitters piece (I have it hanging in an upstairs seating area, shown above, and the trendy shape and style always makes me happy), or these smaller (and very, very affordable) gumball sconces, also from Urban.

Amazon Prime also offers an array of sconces that won’t break the bank. We love this two-pack industrial set as well as this globe design, which comes in both gold and black.