The colonial period was a time of simplicity and colonial style fixtures reflect that mentality, offering a sense of refinement and practicality. Consider the early years of America and the features they might have enjoyed—wall sconces are the most practical, meaning that most colonial style pieces will fall into that fixture type.
Mission style refers to simple, plain lines and a sense of strength revealed in boxy shapes and warm coloring.
Victorian style lighting is based on the old gas fixtures, featuring etched or opaque glass housings that face upward and ornate metalwork. The arms of Victorian light fixtures were designed to carry gas and are thicker than in other styles.
Because there are so many factors to consider when shopping for wall light fixtures, we’ve compiled some top concerns (aside from type and style) here.
For ambient lighting, wall fixtures should be places at least six feet from one another and installed at a height that will prevent glare. While this can vary from fixture to fixture, a general rule is that the bottom of the fixture should be 60 inches from the floor.
While sizes vary greatly, you should consider the size of your room or space before choosing any lighting fixtures. Obviously, an oversize sconce won’t be appropriate in a narrow hallway and a miniature candle sconce probably won’t suffice outdoors. Choose based on the dimensions of the space you plan to place the fixture and how much coverage you need from the light itself, but beware that larger fixtures don’t always mean greater coverage; shading mechanisms and bulb wattage will affect coverage, as well.
Quality is a term that encompasses many details of the fixture you choose. A good quality fixture will be made of durable, rust-, water- and/or stain-resistant materials. It will offer stability in its mounting abilities and function properly. Some popular material choices include brass, bronze, iron, glass and plastic.
Wall lights usually are controlled by a remote switch or knob, rather than by a switch attached to the fixture. Consider placement of the control as well as ease of use. If you would like a dimmer switch for ambience or lower visibility (for example, in a hallway at night), knobs are generally preferred.
Wall Lighting Costs
Wall light pricing varies greatly, depending on material, type, quality, style and manufacturer. While a simple frosted glass torchiere can cost as little as $50, a complex or ornate brushed nickel sconce might cost well over $200. In general, Victorian style wall fixtures are the most expensive (some cost over $1,000) depending on details and materials.
The Bottom Line
Wall lighting is perfect for any home with low ceilings or as a complement to rooms or spaces that require that extra illumination. Choosing between sconce and lantern is entirely preferential, as most of these lights function in the same manner. However, be sure to consider exactly what type of light you want and why you want it. If your goal is to read without any strain, a torchiere probably isn’t the best choice. Similarly, if you want ambiance, a wall bracket with six sockets for bright bulbs might not do the trick.