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3 ENLIGHTENING WAYS TO USE VINTAGE WALL LAMPS

We’ve all puzzled over it: how to give a home that lived-in feel. Pillows, vases, and art can create homey layers, but add visual clutter. Some opt for built-ins like window seats and recessed walls (which can detract from a room’s emptiness), but weekend project territory? We think not. Which brings us to the oft-forgotten vintage sconce.

Ah, yes, if crown molding is the master class of built-ins, then consider vintage sconces their DIY cousin; perfect for adding interest in all the time it takes to hire an electrician. Whether placed in an entry above a console, or used in a living room to flank a fireplace, antique sconces will dazzle while off—stun once on. Their downward-aimed light is perfect for mimicking moody candlelight as well as highlighting your most-loved art.

The question then becomes where to use secondhand sconces? Should they be regulated to purely task jobs? Can they be used in a bedroom? must they always be used in pairs? To help, we’ve outlined four inspired places to use vintage sconces below, along with tips on the used sconce styles we vote best for each.

USE VINTAGE WALL LAMPS IN A POWDER ROOM...

Although cute as a button, powder rooms—with their galley-like quarters—can make expressing your personal style a challenge. Save built-in fixtures like mirrors, faucets, and wallpaper, putting your stamp on the teeny bath can be near impossible.

Our solution? Try a pair of vintage wall sconces. Use them to bookend the mirror over the sink, opting for unusual figural or candelabra sconces in brass to really up the drama. In the event you do have wild, floor-to-ceiling wallpaper, we love the idea of candelabra sconces that are outfitted with petite black shades. The shades will pop against virtually any print, and the dichotomy between the dinner-dressed sconces and wild child walls is perfectly captivating.

Alternatively, if you’ve fallen for a single sconce and have no clue how to pursue it, try it in a powder room hung over a small rectangular or square mirror. Yes, how easy was that?

USE VINTAGE WALL LAMPS ON EITHER SIDE OF A BED...

While reading in bed doesn’t always prove to be quite as productive as we thought it would be… (really, is drifting off ever easier than midway through page 3?), a bedside nightlight is still an undeniable luxury. Sconces placed on either side of a bed are a perfect way to, one, embolden a headboard, and, two, provide functional (and footprint-less) lighting.

Hands down, our favorite sconces to flank a bed are swing-arm sconces. From the neat and tidy pharmacy lamp to mod sconces with elegant, spider-like silhouettes, a vintage swing-arm sconce can be pulled from its compact resting stance and directed exactly where you need it, when you need it. If this doesn’t sound like a dream come true yet, imagine a soft, ambient glow while reading, mending a button, or dashing off a let’s-catch-up email before bed—all while your partner is sleeping soundly. Now that’s harmony.

USE VINTAGE WALL LAMPS AS PART OF A GALLERY WALL...

Yes, cultivated Instagram shots make gallery walls look like a snap, but assembling one on your own can be a serious test. Part of the problem lies in the fact that most gallery walls levitate over a piece of base furniture, like a sofa or a credenza, and whether we mean to or not, we use the furniture’s ends as invisible bookends for our art. Invariably, the result is almost always the same: way too much symmetry.

To offset this, we love the idea of balancing a gallery wall with sconces on either side. Go for grand, imposing sconces, here, like Deco-inspired torchiere sconces. Torchiere’s vertical orientation will play well off the gallery wall’s broad dimensions and up the drama factor (which is what a gallery wall is all about, right?). Sconces can also be worked into the footprint of the gallery wall. This works best for square-shaped galleries, where vertically-inclined sconces can frame a center portrait.

If you love the idea of sconces illuminating your art, but aren’t a fan of the graphic gallery wall hodge-podge, a simple three-step vignette consists of a piece of furniture like a bench or credenza over which an overblown piece of photography or art hangs. The art is then flanked by sconces (the same can also be done with a mirror or a window). The key here is scale, and it may take trying out a few pairs to get proportions exactly right, so don’t be afraid to snap up a few pairs!