How to make sconces work hard for your house

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Years ago, as a section editor for Idaho State Journal, I interviewed a lighting specialist named Trissa Cameron at L&K Carpet One in Pocatello, which has an unexpectedly good lighting showroom. She talked to me about sconces and how important they are to a home’s ambience. I’ve always remembered her tips and am trying to use them as I plan the lighting in our house.

Here are a few of her suggestions:

Plan for sconces early by doing a walkthrough to analyze where lighting should be installed. If you plan early, your electrician will run wiring accordingly, saving you money versus making changes later. And make sure you, the homeowner, call the shots on placement—don’t leave decisions up to your electrician because there’s a good chance you’ll be dissatisfied in the end.

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The bathroom is a great place to install sconces versus an over-the-mirror fixture that casts harsh shadows from above. This might be the best tip I picked up from Trissa. The best bathroom lighting is cross illumination, or sconces flanking the mirror, because light from both directions makes shaving and makeup application more precise (plus, no dark shadows to emphasize wrinkles). Hang sconces near eye level for best results, but screw in lightbulbs when determining placement so you’ll be happy with look you get. If you add dimmers on your switches, you can have a “candlelit” bath without the candles.

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Another good place for sconces is in a large family room with vaulted ceilings. A cavernous space can swallow a ceiling fixture, so hanging sconces around the perimeter of the room brings the focus down and makes the space feel cozier. Sconces can be placed a little higher than eye level in rooms with towering ceilings, but you still want to install them at a functional height.

Trissa said there’s no reason to buy all your lights in the same “family” (you know, when a company produces a line with matching chandeliers, flush mounts, and sconces). But if mixing and matching makes you nervous, simply stick with the same metal finish as your hardware or other fixtures to maintain cohesion.

I love these tips, and I hope you can use them also. I’ve already bought a couple sconces for my kitchen, but I’ve got more to purchase. Maybe you should buy some too! And if you’re in southeast Idaho and looking for great lights locally, stop by Carpet One in Poky. •

 

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