How to Choose a Wall Sconce + Why You Need One

With the addition of our DIY banquette, the way we use Tree House has changed drastically for the better. Like, it’s almost unbelievable! Our old folding table and rusty patio chairs have been a thorn in our side for 2 years(!), and it was the happiest day to store them away. And when we added the custom dining table – well, forget it. It was like a whole new house, and we already have amnesia of table’s past. (By the way, we plan on sharing the story of our custom table very soon!)

The big thing our main living space was still lacking, however, was lighting. Lighting is integral to the way we live and interact in our home. I can’t stress this enough; lighting is so, so important in home design. Until recently, we had only our overhead light (on a dimmer, of course – we love and use these!), but as a general rule, any given room should have at least 2, if not 3, sources of light. Your evenings will be so much happier for it!

How to Choose a Wall Sconce + Why You Need One // Plus a round-up of sconces for your own home! // via Yellow Brick Home
corner banquette | navy pillow | sconce | wall planter

So not only did our dining nook see a drastic change with the table and banquette, but the entire room received a big (nay, massive!) upgrade when we added 2 wall sconces – one in the corner by the table, and the other above our sofa:

How to Choose a Wall Sconce + Why You Need One // Plus a round-up of sconces for your own home! // via Yellow Brick Home
How to Choose a Wall Sconce + Why You Need One // Plus a round-up of sconces for your own home! // via Yellow Brick Home
sconce | sofa | bed frame | slim couch console DIY

We love a good wall sconce, because you can essentially add them anywhere there’s outlet nearby. They provide a warm glow for a reading nook or conversation area, or they’re a great option to line a dark hallway, light up a small entryway or keep your bedside cozy. In our case, these extra light sources help to create soft mood lighting during a quiet Tree House evening, whether we’re playing games at the table or diving into a good book while curled up on the sofa. We have a bit of a route: As the sun sets, we flip on the sconces, and we dim the kitchen window light, too. We light a candle, we tune into a soothing playlist, and we just… chill.

So, how do you choose the right wall sconce for your space?

Check for Outlets

This may seem like a no-brainer, but the location of your outlets will be a determining factor in which kind of wall sconce you choose. For example, if you’re okay with an exposed cord, a more inexpensive option would be to choose a plug-in sconce. But if you’d prefer a hard-wired fixture where there is currently no junction box, you’ll likely need to consult with an electrician. However, you may be surprised to learn that adding a j-box near an outlet where there is none may be more affordable than you’d think! In our dining nook, our electrician tapped off a nearby switch for our now-hard-wired sconce, whereas we opted for a plug-in above the sofa. This leads me to…

How to Choose a Wall Sconce + Why You Need One // Plus a round-up of sconces for your own home! // via Yellow Brick Home
sconce | rug | basket | pouf

How Do You Want to Operate Your Sconce?

We liked the idea of a plug-in sconce above the sofa for a more casual feel, but we also liked the idea of having switch directly on the fixture for ease of use. Most plug-in sconces have a switch built into the cord, and depending on where you purchase the fixture (i.e., an Etsy seller), you may be able to specify how far down you’d like it to go. In our case, we fell hard for the Nehalem sconce for the level of customization (we chose aged brass with a clear ash wood accent), but we especially loved the rotary switch directly on the canopy.

How to Choose a Wall Sconce + Why You Need One // Plus a round-up of sconces for your own home! // via Yellow Brick Home

If you’ll be installing your sconce on a j-box, you will still want to consider whether you want to be able to operate your sconce from the fixture itself (either on the canopy or with a pull chain), or if you would prefer a wall switch. All of these things need to be taken into consideration when narrowing down your search on the perfect sconce. Try filtering your online searches by specifying plug-in vs. hardwired and going from there.

On a side note, you may be wondering what we did with the cord of our plug-in sconce, since it was installed above our slim console. We drilled a tiny hole into it!

How to Choose a Wall Sconce + Why You Need One // Plus a round-up of sconces for your own home! // via Yellow Brick Home

And we did the same on the opposite end of the console and added one of these external outlets with USB! We have two outlets on the wall underneath the console, and both items are plugged in, out of sight. We were sure to drill the holes in the same spot on each side, and the result looks intentional and pretty cute, we think!

How to Choose a Wall Sconce + Why You Need One // Plus a round-up of sconces for your own home! // via Yellow Brick Home
slim couch console DIY | extension outlet w/ USB

Consider Other Light Fixtures In the Same Room

What other light fixtures do you have in the same room? Is there an overhead light? A floor lamp? A table lamp? Consider the style of these light sources – everything from the metal finish to the shape – and use that as your guide when choosing a wall sconce. For example, just because the other fixtures in the room are brass, that doesn’t mean your wall sconce needs to be brass, too. You could still keep things cohesive by, say, choosing a sconce with a globe shade if that’s also the shape of your overhead light. We talk about this more in this post, which also dives into lighting pairs for an open concept home. The same general rules would apply!

The Right Shade Is Important

Are you a bare bulb fan? Or do you prefer more diffused light, such as that with milk glass or a fabric shade? There’s no wrong answer here, but I’m a thousand percent in the latter! I have sensitive eyes, so much so, that you won’t find a clear glass shade or bare bulb in any room of our house. When choosing the right wall sconce for you, you’ll want to be mindful of this.

What Else?

  • If you fall in love with a plug-in sconce but need something hard-wired (or if the opposite happens), that’s okay! Generally speaking, most light fixtures can be converted one way or another. Here’s an example of how we hard-wired a plug-in fixture, and this is our favorite place to purchase plug-in lighting kits.
  • Don’t be afraid to mix metals with different light sources in the same room. Mixing metals is our favorite way to add instant charm.
  • Don’t forget about the finishing touch – the light bulb! We prefer the look of an LED 2700k bulb, which provides warmer light. For a wall sconce, we also choose the lowest equivalent watt we can find, which is typically 40 watts.
How to Choose a Wall Sconce + Why You Need One // Plus a round-up of sconces for your own home! // via Yellow Brick Home
corner banquette | navy pillow | sconce | wall planter

Is there anything else we can help to answer, or is there anything you’d like to add? We’re also bursting to share more about our custom dining table (made from a tree from our own backyard, eek!) soon!

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  • Kathleen8.5.19 - 7:25 AM

    But how do you thread the cords through the tiny holes? Did you disconnect the wiring from the lamp and the external outlet? Could you give a tutorial in that? Thanks!ReplyCancel

    • Kim8.5.19 - 7:51 AM

      Yes, that’s exactly what we did! Each plug was a little different, but they come off pretty easily and go back together just as well.ReplyCancel

      • Brena8.5.19 - 6:52 PM

        Yes, please do a tutorial on that fine trick.  :)ReplyCancel

      • Katy12.5.19 - 7:30 PM

        How on earth do you get the plug off??  I’m sitting here with my lamp cord right now tugging at it and that thing is NOT moving.  Are you cutting it and then replacing it with a new one?  Is there some secret maneuver?  Did you film a tutorial for this on instagram stories that I missed?  HALP! (thanks in advance xoxo!!)ReplyCancel

        • Kim12.5.19 - 8:56 PM

          Hi Katy! We used a vintage style plug like this. We removed the old plug and put this kind back on once the cord went through the hole. Hope this helps!ReplyCancel

  • Kim8.5.19 - 7:31 AM

    This may seem like a silly question, but how did you get the plug through the tiny hole you drilled in the console table? It seems like both ends of the cord would be too big. ????ReplyCancel

    • Kim8.5.19 - 7:52 AM

      Great question! We removed the plug and then put it back on once we threaded the cable through. Removing a plug from a cloth cord is relatively simple. :)ReplyCancel

  • lak8.5.19 - 7:59 AM

    Since I started following your blog I have added a couple of sconces to my guest room and love them.  After family saw my refreshed guest room, they are also adding sconces.  They free up a lot of room on the nightstand and look great!ReplyCancel

  • at home with Ashley8.5.19 - 9:50 AM

    Thanks for sharing this. I love seeing the details of how you made your sconce look so good up close! Lighting is so important, especially at night/in the winter. ReplyCancel

  • Paige Cassandra Flamm8.5.19 - 9:57 AM

    I love the look of wall sconces and have been wanting to add one to our home for ages! This post is perfect timing!


  • Laura C8.5.19 - 12:48 PM

    Small typo – I think you mean “nay” (“neigh” is what a horse does).   :)ReplyCancel

    • Kim8.5.19 - 1:16 PM

      Hahaha, I officially have read too many children’s books with animal sounds to Lucy!ReplyCancel

  • Lenie8.5.19 - 7:44 PM

    How do you know if the bulb and shade should shine up or down?  I want sconces next to my bed but don’t want to feel like I have a spotlight on me.  I can’t decide what to get!   ReplyCancel

    • Kim8.6.19 - 8:55 AM

      Next to a bed is a little trickier – I understand not wanting to feel like there’s a spotlight on you, but if it shines ‘up,’ then it would illuminate much of the room and could be a hinderance if someone else is trying to sleep! I would suggest a light that shines down, but put in the lowest watt bulb you can find, and/or install a sconce with a dimmer.ReplyCancel

  • Halle8.5.19 - 9:19 PM

    This is perfect timing! My husband and I are searching for wall sconces for our bedroom right now. Do you have a standard height they should be hung? We have a pretty average/tall headboard, and we’re trying to figure out if there is a guideline to get us started. Do you have a roundup of favorite sconces? Or are they included in that big coordinated lighting post?ReplyCancel

    • Kim8.6.19 - 8:59 AM

      Hi Halle! Check out the ‘open concept’ lighting post for a ton of sconce options. As for a standard height by the bed, ours are at about 4.5′, but I think it’s more about your own comfort. Once you have a sconce, get in bed and have your husband play with the height of the sconce, and see what feels right for you. Make sure you can reach the switch easily!ReplyCancel

  • Heather8.6.19 - 2:26 AM

    Super lame question… but are toggle light switches “out”? Trying to decide what to put in our new build, and I’m seeing rocker switches everywhere on IG. I’ve had toggles all my life… maybe it’s time to switch?? 
    P.S. We’ll be building a banquette in the new house and my husband excitedly scoured your post for alllll the details. The shiplap and two-tone features are a dream! So amazing!!!ReplyCancel

    • Kim8.6.19 - 8:46 AM

      I think it’s just personal preference! Rocker panels are a little more modern, I think, and we just like the look. But we also know people who prefer a more traditional toggle switch, and that’s fine, too. Best of luck on the build, and three cheers for banquettes!ReplyCancel

  • Catherine8.6.19 - 8:44 AM

    Related and not. The image in the post with the light turning on/off reminded me of “A Night In” posts. I love those! I think one in the Treehouse is due :)ReplyCancel

    • Kim8.6.19 - 9:00 AM

      We’re so overdue for ‘A Night In’! Thanks for the suggestion, would love to do another one soon. :)ReplyCancel

  • Patty8.18.19 - 8:55 PM

    What paint color is that? The science just pops! So beautiful. ReplyCancel

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