Decorating: The Pick of Good-looking Interiors Hardware

Every room contains lights, switches and sockets, but far from being dull, these vital pieces can team functionality with great design

By Joanna Simmons  / Courtesy of

Sockets and switches are essential components of any interior and, while obviously designed to be functional, these vital little pieces can also look incredibly stylish. So before you reach for bog-standard white plastic designs, have a look at the huge range of alternatives available. 

Browse for examples in copper, brass, black nickel and brushed steel, Perspex, wood and coloured plastic; when chosen carefully, they can really enhance a scheme, bring smart detail to a wall and, if in a luxurious shiny finish, stand out beautifully. Conversely, they can melt into a backdrop, for a sleek and subtle effect. So let’s celebrate switches, dimmers, sockets and lamp holders with this roundup of handsome, hard-working hardware.

Make a statement
Polished brass turns the humble, everyday socket or switch into a gorgeous detail, shining softly on a wall. Fit these beautiful pieces against a dark painted backdrop, for extra impact.

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Do it yourself
At its most simple and unpretentious, a light can merely consist of a bulb holder and a bulb, mounted on a piece of timber. A standard brass lamp holder looks appealingly shiny, adds an industrial vibe and only costs a few pounds. As bulbs can become hot, this is not a suitable design for a child’s room, but it makes a wonderfully utilitarian addition to any other space.

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Seek out some shine
Glossy accents give this grey scheme extra life and vigour. The copper floor lamp takes centre stage, while two beautiful light switches glow alongside it, adding a further splash of reflective sheen to this space.

Become invisible
Clear Perspex light switches are slick and stylish and appear to be almost invisible. Rather than blocking out a section of wall, this kind of switch allows the pattern of the paper or the paint colour to show through, with the switches themselves creating minimal impact.

Match the wallcovering
Consider toning your switch or socket to its background, at least partially, for a harmonious effect. Brushed chrome or stainless steel blend in well with grey walls, while the humble white plastic fitting is often the best choice for a pale scheme.

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Expose the workings
In a traditional lamp, the bulb holder is typically hidden within a shade, but the popularity of industrial design today means many lights proudly display their inner workings. There is an appealing honesty about this style and the addition of coloured or patterned fabric flex completes the vintage detail.

Be discreet
Sockets don’t need to become a feature, but even if you prefer them to blend in rather than stand out, it’s worth investing in hardware that complements the colours and materials used in the space. These lovely designs in black and antique bronze perfectly suit the elegant timber backdrop.

Stand alone
Double sockets will eat up space on a wall, so fitting neat, single sockets is much less obtrusive. Carefully work out how you will be using your space before you install sockets, as you may be able to get away with a few individual fittings rather than numerous chunky double designs.

Pop up
Kitchens need a great many sockets to service all the gadgets most people use in there. If you’re not keen on having walls peppered with sockets, consider fitting a port socket, which can be pulled up from a worktop and stored neatly back inside when not in use.

Gather together
Rather than have switches dotted through a space, organise them all onto one super panel and then label each one for practicality.

What do you think of these handsome hardware designs? Share your ideas in the Comments below.