Light sconces, sadly, are not on most folks’ interiors radar, unless they’re for a bathroom. But illuminating a vanity is not the only task for a pair of wall-mounted fixtures.
Like anything that embellishes a wall, light sconces these days offer plenty of decorative options. With a little flourish, swagger, bling and sophistication, they offer far more than task, accent or mood lighting. Styling has ramped up, with an ample range of bright ideas in traditional to contemporary designs as well as surprising materials, shapes, colors, textures and sizes.
“In the old days, (residential) lighting was limited to crystal and some sort of brass,” said Nigel Maynard, editor of Residential Building Products and Technology, a digital trade publication. “European designers have raised the bar (particularly in contemporary lighting). And Americans are stepping up their game.”
High-end interior designers and architects long have looked to Italian companies such as Artemide, Fontana Arte, Foscarini and Leucos for edgier, off-the-chain styling in metals and glass, including clear, frosted and even glorious color. And those seeking authentic midcentury modern, Art Deco or ’60s and ’70s pieces might start with the impressive global online retail site 1stdibs for excellent examples. And for a good representation of trendy styles, check out Horchow where sconces range from $195 to $895.
“Sconces definitely are having a moment,” said architect Andreea Avram Rusu, who also designs lighting. “It has been building for a while. It is winning public consciousness.”
But Avram Rusu sees different levels of beauty in lighting.
“It’s the most important thing in the room in general, for how people look, how people feel,” she said. “Light transforms space.”
Sconces can add ambiance and an artistic note – without taking up precious real estate. Designer Ayala Serfaty is known for the sensual shapes of her light sculptures for Aqua Creations, some of which evoke couture fashion touches such as pleated and shirred silk. In addition to such textural pieces, other sconces add movement, like those that mimic the form of cascading chandeliers.
And there are hybrids – fixtures that can attach to the wall or ceiling, to float. They’re plug-ins, so they go anywhere. There are candlestick designs that are elongated, exaggerated more like torchieres. Other sconces resemble table lamps with giant shades, some on articulating arms. And there’s new respect for the backplate, now designed as an integral part of the piece.
Some finishes dial down the shiny, favoring matte looks (although polished nickel remains a favorite in modern interiors because of its sparkle and elegance). Burnished gold is hot, in keeping with home design trends where metals are warming up. Patinated or bronzey finishes lend a vintage or industrial vibe, especially striking with see-through shades to bare bulbs. Complex finishes include painting, distressing and glazing.
Materials also include wood veneers and embellishments such as capiz shells, beads and crystals. It’s an imaginative mix that sets apart some designs.
“We mix modern with rustic, elegant with casual, romantic with relaxed,” said Carla Regina Zajac, partner in Regina Andrews. “It’s an eclectic vision that resonates with natural style – a new look at how we live today.”