6 Interior Sconce Lights That Should Grace Your Home

Closet with sconce lights

stevecoleimages / Getty Images

Ceiling lights are a dismal, ineffective way to illuminate a room, washing light indiscriminately over everything. Yet you can't just rip them out since electrical code NEC 210.70(A)(1) requires that every habitable room have a "switch-controlled lighting outlet."

Aren't there any alternatives? Yes: Sconce lights.

From the Latin absconsa laterna (meaning, to hide the lantern), sconces are fixtures mounted at head-level on the wall. Mostly installed on house exteriors or in bathrooms near the mirror, sconce lights are not commonly found elsewhere in the house interior—though they should be. A front-mounted shade blocks the light so that it doesn't blind you as you walk by, but it does allow light to pass upward or downward.

Here are six sconce lights that demonstrate this under-appreciated fixture's flexibility and wide-ranging style possibilities.

  • 01 of 06

    Sconce Lights Are an Elegant Way to Brighten Your Home's Interior

    Kichler Colerne sconce light

    That's the sconce on the right side, just above the sofa. From Kichler's Colerne Collection, this sconce has the look of "an upcycled" wooden box, according to Kichler's site. Metal brackets stabilize the shelf containing the light's base. Pop in an Edison bulb and it'll look perfect in that hipster oyster-and-artisan-gin bar you've been planning to open. Priced in the $250 to $300 range.

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  • 02 of 06

    Mid-Century Modern "Cone" Sconce Light Casts a Vintage Glow

    Rejuvenation Galaxy sconce light
    Rejuvenation Lighting

    Here's one for all you lovers of mid-century modern (MCM) home style. From Rejuvenation, this is their Galaxy interior sconce. Shown is the Aluminum finish, but they also have the more period-appropriate Bronzetone (yes, that's their term for it), as well as the more modern Black and White Enamels. $205.

    Urban Archaeology has a similar hourglass-shaped mid-century modern sconce, ranging from $460 for Polished Brass to $730 for Nickel, Brown, or Black finishes.

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  • 03 of 06

    Ultra-Modern Sconce Bounces Light off of Colorful Tile

    BlancoWhite C1 sconce light
    Antoni Arola / Santa & Cole

    The BlancoWhite C1 Sconce Light demonstrates two things. First, it shows how sconce lights lend themselves to truly fun and creative designs. From Spanish designer Antoni Arola, the C1 harnesses the dead-simple technique of reflecting light off of a colorful tile to add vitality to a room. Arola works under the Barcelona-based Santa & Cole industrial design group.

    Not shown here is the way the C1 can tilt upward or downward, much like a laptop screen.

    The other thing that the C1 shows is just how expensive sconces can be, this one coming in at $1,130, minus the backplate. The cost of the backplate is about $100.

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  • 04 of 06

    A True Rarity: Affordable Art Deco Sconce Light

    Art deco sconce light
    Forte Lighting

    Sconce lights seem like they belong in a 1920s movie theater—one of those old flicker palaces with a grandiose name like The Egyptian. Here is a modern, inexpensive sconce (about $68) that would look right at home in such a place.

    Measuring 8 3/4" high, this antique bronze finished fixture has a glass shade with a linen texture. The other cost-saving aspect of this light is that it takes just a single 100w bulb, not a pricey LED or halogen one.

    Forte Lighting, based in Fontana, CA, quietly puts out cheap, stylish lighting fixtures. I would link to them, but they are wholesale only. Lamps Beautiful (link below) has a good selection of Forte sconces.

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  • 05 of 06

    Another Rarity: Craftsman-Style Sconce Light That Works In Interiors

    Kichler craftsman style sconce light

    It's rare to find an interior Craftsman-style sconce light—most are for porches. Perhaps the chunky, ponderous shape is better suited to the great outdoors?

    Even this Umber Glass Sconce from Kichler Lighting will not satisfy the Craftsman purist, as it has few perpendiculars or squares that give Craftsman that unique blocky look. Still, with its rough bronze finish and exposed screws, it looks like something practitioners of the Arts & Crafts Movement might have hammered out.

    Even though Kichler is a wholesaler and you cannot purchase from their site, we are including a link to that site below because it is especially informative.

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  • 06 of 06

    Super Modern Brushed Aluminum Sconce Light

    Modern-style sconce light
    Forq/Modern Forms

    From Modern Forms, this is the Forq light, made of brushed aluminum. This fixture is a full 18" (yes, foot-and-a-half) long, so make sure that your room is big enough to accommodate this size. This fixture uses LED bulbs.

    Found at: YLighting