Recently, a guy from work invited me to his house and his living room was mostly lit with sconces. I didn’t make any remarks but what would I have said? Are wall sconces in the living room a good idea? And how should they be used?
For this article, I reached out to my followers (I made a poll asking for your opinion) and I also share my own opinion on this topic.
Let’s find out the results!
In general, sconces in the living room are not the best choice. Whether using sconces in the living room is a good idea depends on the size and design of your living room, the specific lighting needs, and of course your personal preference. However, sconces are more suited for hallways, staircases, and bedside tables when there is limited space. There are better lighting options for living rooms than sconces, such as torchiere lamps and cove lighting.
Keep reading to find out my detailed opinion and my subscribers’ opinion!
Purpose of sconces in the living room
To answer this question properly, we must first go back to layering. Layering is the use of different types of fixtures to achieve balanced lighting.
And by balanced lighting, we mean the lighting design that covers all corners of the room, provides sufficient ambient and task light, and at the same time is decorative, attractive, and dramatic.
So where do sconces fit in? Sconces in general act as a source of ambient and/or task light. In the living room, they will act as an ambient light source if they are lined up on an empty wall at eye level and point light upwards, but they will act as a task light source if they are over a table or surface and point the light downwards.
The reason I’m not so crazy about sconces in the living room is that I prefer cove lighting or recessed can lights for ambient light and floor or table lamps for task light. If a wall is empty, I prefer installing wall art with a picture light or even wall light art. If I want to accentuate the wall itself, I prefer wall washers or grazers instead of sconces.
So this is my reasoning. Of course, it completely depends on the individual space, as wall sconces can look extremely good in certain living rooms or even be necessary.
What do I mean by necessary?
We saw that wall sconces can act as either ambient or task light, depending on their type and placement. Well, if for whatever reason your ambient lumen requirements are not met by other fixtures, then maybe you need the extra light provided by sconces.
Or if for example, the table by your armchair is small and therefore has no space for a table lamp, maybe an overhead sconce is necessary, just like the one in the picture.
In short, sconces should be used when there is not much room for other types of fixtures.
I created a poll which I sent out to my subscribers, asking if they think wall sconces in the living room are a good choice. The answers to the poll were:
- Depends on the rest of the lights – 52%
- Depends on the style of the living room – 27%
- Not so much – 9%
- Absolutely – 7%
- Only if the wall is empty – 5%
So it seems like you also agree that sconces should be used only if the rest of the lights are insufficient or require complementary fixtures for some reason.
The majority of comments I received were saying that sconces are a good way to layer in the light, especially if you have no space for floor lamps or table lamps.
Some of you believe that sconces should only be used in traditional homes, with the majority agreeing that they can be a bit outdated in more contemporary living rooms. Although I agree with the sentiment, I have to say that there are some amazing wall sconces out there for modern and contemporary architectures!
The rest of the answers were divided between yes, no, and only if a wall is empty.
I was very glad to see that our opinions mostly lined up and I was very excited to talk to some of you and hear what you had to say!
Now that this is all said and done, let’s look at some tips for those of you who decide to install wall sconces in the living room.
Tips To Keep In Mind
If you decide to use wall sconces in the living room, here are some tips for you:
1. Decide if they will be used for ambient or task lighting
This is the first step. You must know the purpose of your sconces beforehand so that you can select the right type and the right bulb. I advise against seeing a sconce design that you like and trying to fit it into your living room.
As a second part of this, calculate your lumens and choose a color temperature of about 3000 K for ambient light or 3500 K for task light. Scandinavian styles or living rooms with bright white walls and furniture can be a bit higher.
2. Figure out the right height
For ambient light, install them at around eye level. For task lighting, it depends on where you want to install it. You can read this guide for more information.
3. ALWAYS use the same sconces (if using more than one)
This is pretty self-explanatory but do not use different sconces in the same room, especially not next to each other.
The only instance where it is okay to use different sconces is if one of them is a swing-arm sconce used for practical reasons or as a focal point.
4. Try to match the colors and aesthetic of your living room
Sconces in the living room are not the best way to go all extravaganza with your lighting. Instead, save your over-the-top ideas for accent lighting!
Although sconces in the living room might not always be ideal, there are several instances where they are necessary to achieve that sweet spot of ambiance and practicability.
Follow the tips above if you decide to install them, while always keeping in mind their purpose and functionality (layering!).
Also, send me an email with pictures of your living room sconces and tell me if you love them and why. I can’t wait to see all your different opinions, this has already been a wild ride!