8 Ways to Use Plug-In Sconces in Your Lighting Scheme

Plug-in, wall-mounted sconces help unclutter desks, add visual interest and more. See if they are right for you

By Yanic Simard  / Courtesy of Houzz.com

If you’ve dismissed plug-in sconces in the past, you may want to give them another look. Without any wiring work, a pluggable sconce can improve your lighting scheme, reduce tabletop clutter and add interest to a room. Here’s how.

1. Use the cord to add interest. Plug-in sconces often come with a beautiful cord that is meant to be seen, or a built-in channel that amps up the decorative appeal — or both. Many lighting suppliers and hardware stores can also provide channels that can be added to any sconce to cover the cord until it can disappear behind furniture or paneling.

Tip: Be bold and choose a sparkling metallic or bright color for a channel (or spray-paint one before applying it) rather than attempting to match the wall. This creates a fun accent that has nothing to hide.

2. Declutter a desk. A simple table lamp can work just as easily at home as it does at the office to add task lighting to your desk. But sometimes you just want your home office to feel more like home and less like work. Use that same plug for a sconce, and you’ve got instant modern style as well as one less piece of clutter on the table to worry about.

Converting a closet is a great way to create a disappearing home office, but every square inch of space counts. And that’s when a plug-in sconce comes in handy. It optimizes your work surface and makes the space feel far from a closet experience.

3. Balance a wall. Adding a pair of plug-in sconces to frame an art piece not only can bring attention to the art, but can also help stretch out the scale of a piece that is too small to fill a wall on its own.

4. Bring light to awkward spots. A reading nook, a window bench or another small area can be hard to light when no floor or table space exists for a traditional lamp (especially when the sun has gone down). In this project I used a pair of golden sconces to add a second layer of light but also to frame the nook with a jewelry-like touch — after all, lighting isn’t always strictly functional. For reading, a downward-facing light or swing-arm sconce will hit the spot perfectly.

Tip: Hide wiring under a cushion or behind pillows if available.

5. Save bedside table space. In a cottage (or cottage-inspired) interior, a simple black or bronze plug-in sconce makes a perfect bedside lamp, giving guests individual reading lights while adding to the rustic cabin appeal through their simple charm. Plus, all the space is saved on the nightstand for tossing down a book as they nod off.

In a cleaner and more contemporary space, a chair can make a fun bedside table as well as a sneaky way to hide the cord of a plug-in sconce for casual elegance.

Choosing a style with a swing arm makes it especially functional for reading, as it can be positioned just right to hit the page and then pushed back later.

See more creative ideas for space-saving bedside lighting

6. Establish overhead lighting. When designed on a large scale, a swing-out sconce can function not just as a reading light but as a focal light source for a whole seating area, like an updated version of a ’70s-style arc lamp but conveniently placed entirely overhead. It’s a creative alternative to a pendant or ceiling light while letting you avoid costly rewiring work.

7. Create a dressing area. A plug-in sconce and full-length mirror are a natural combination: The cord can be hidden quietly behind the mirror while the lamp shines a new light on your outfit. Use an adjustable downlight (not a harsh spotlight) for targeting the viewer directly, or use a nondirectional light to add a more general glow that fills in harsh shadows.

8. Add architectural anchors. This might be a problem you would never have thought you would have, but sometimes a floating piece of furniture just cries out for a finishing touch that gives it that true sense of style. Capping your living room sofa, dining room sideboard, boudoir wardrobe or similarly dominating piece of furniture with a pair of sconces anchors it beautifully, tying it visually back to the wall and adding a very literal sense of lightness to balance out that weight. It’s a subtle designer secret that really works.