Wall Lights or Sconces?
Many of us are familiar with the term sconce, but how does it differ from a wall light? For starters, all sconces are wall lights, but not all wall lights are scones. Sconce is a name most commonly used to describe an historical wall fixture featuring illumination that projected upward and outward, but never downward. Candles or oil lamps prior to the invention of electricity fuelled them. There are contemporary lights designed these days to emulate the illumination qualities of a historical sconce and are therefore also referred to as sconces. Most modern and contemporary wall fixtures with direct lighting use glass lenses or diffusers to help manage glare, whereas indirect fixtures project the light away from the observer and onto the wall. Despite these differences, the terms sconce and wall light are being used more and more as synonyms.
Ambient, Accent, and Task Applications
Lighting effectively defines a space. It brightens hidden corners and calls attention to significant design features, while adding functionality to each environment. Lighting has the ability to affect the appearance of an environment as well as the mood of its inhabitants. The art of layering lighting to create balance in a room is not always intrinsic, but it can be learned. Wall lights are often the final touch in a space; the examples below are a quick snapshot of some possible applications.
Hallway and Corridor Lighting – Wall lights can provide general ambient room lighting and are favoured for this use, as they do not need to project light as far into narrow spaces. They are also excellent accent light additions to these environments, providing points of interest that break up long stretches of vertical surface in a passage. Illuminated wall signage can also be used for wayfinding in commercial applications such as hotels and restaurants.
Living room/Dining room Lighting – Wall sconces can function as accent lights for living or dining rooms, bookending a side hutch or credenza. There are even some wall lights - display and picture lights - that are made specifically for illuminating a fine piece of wall art.
Bedroom Lighting – Most bedroom wall lighting is for accent and task applications, as reading lights. The Mantis BS 5 Mini Wall light by DCW éditions is a great example of a task light that will provide you with sweat dreams after aiding a good bedtime read.
Kitchen Lighting – This room is a hub of activity, hence the need for effective task lighting as a complement to ambient and accent lighting fixtures. Wall lighting that offers spot and/or directional lighting is very functional for a kitchen. You can also add wall fixtures to highlight key room features such as open shelves.
Bathroom Lighting – This is another task-driven room. An easy way to incorporate wall luminaires for task purposes is to place them in close proximity to the vanity mirror. Bath and vanity lighting will often have wet or damp rated properties, learn more about that in our blog post about IP ratings.
Outdoor Lighting – Fixtures can also be installed on exterior walls and porches as task or accent lights, as long as they are rated as waterproof. The Ship Indoor/Outdoor Well Double Wall Glass designer light fixture by Original BTC is an outdoor wall light that adds a marine influence to its surroundings.
The placement of a wall light is just as important as selecting the preferred style, finish, and application to complete an interior or exterior look. It’s a challenge to get it right. The guidelines below are tried and true methods.
The height of installation is an important consideration. The general rule of thumb is to install wall fixtures at ¾ of the height of the wall, ensuring that they are effectively illuminating the space without blinding observers with glare.
Hallway and Corridor Lighting – The recommendation for placement width between fixtures in a hall or passageway is equal to their height from the floor. They can be placed along one side, or on alternating sides. These fixtures can also frame doorways. The Tubes 2 Wall light from Nemo is one example of a wall light that could be used for this type of placement. For hospitality settings, it is important to consider using ADA approved wall lighting.
Living room/Dining room Lighting – Stylish wall lights can provide balance and focus along with illumination. Some fixtures are specifically designed to illuminate wall art, or perhaps you want the fixture to be the statement piece in the room? With it’s clean, slick profile, Santa & Cole’s Blanca White R1 Wall upscale lighting fixture will provide the illumination needed to highlight your work of art. It can be mounted to project up or down.
Bedroom Lighting – Wall lights can be mounted in pairs above a double, queen or king-sized headboard or side tables to provide task lighting for reading. Mount the fixture so that the switch can be easily accessed. If you can’t hardwire in a wall light, consider using a more versatile plug-in wall light fixture.
Kitchen Lighting – Where you place your fixtures will depend on those existing in the room. Strategically add wall lights like the Hampton wall light over key work surfaces to increase the functionality of the room.
Bathroom Lighting – Wall luminaires should be installed at about eye level on either side of a vanity mirror to prevent unflattering shadows or glare. A wall fixture can alternately be installed above the mirror to ensure a suitable amount of illumination.
For further reading on designer lighting for walls, check out the post below on our website:
Blog Post: The new Ray Sconce collection from Stickbulb