We thought it was high time to talk about the proper height for sconces. Why? Well, we have some secret intel that you all are buying up some sconces! Who would have guessed?? But we TOTALLY get it. Good lighting can make or break a room’s ambiance. Plus it’s such an easy way to add some serious style and make your home look more unique to you. Our favorite topic!
But let’s say you are in the middle of a renovation and you need to tell your contractor where to put the junction boxes. Or you are installing a plug-in sconce because well, a reno isn’t in your immediate future and you don’t know how high it should go?? That can be very stressful so we want to ease your design anxiety with this one-stop sconce shop and tell you what you need to know for each room inside your home. Because let me tell you, if you have to move a junction box after a wall has been closed up… your bank account will not be happy.
There are some things that you want to think about when you are planning for living room/hallway sconces. The usual goal is to evenly light a room. Well, at least that’s always our goal. To do this you want to keep the light source slightly above your direct eye line. This is so it won’t be too high, lighting mainly the ceiling, or too low, and lighting up the floor. So when you are deciding on your fixture, consider the style you want and adjust accordingly. Example: Say you have a sconce where the light source is closer to the bottom of the fixture like this one. You would want to adjust the junction box height to take that into account.
Let’s use Emily and this beautiful shaded sconce below as another example. Since the light source is on the higher side of the fixture, Emily chose to place the center of the junction box to be on the lower side of standard placement (60″). That way the actual light would be slightly above eye level, making it the ideal for even lighting throughout the space.
For living rooms, entryways and hallways these are the general rules:
- They should be installed between 60”- 72” from the floor to the center of the junction box. For vaulted ceilings go for 66” – 72”. If you are going higher, just be sure to consider the window frame height. You don’t want them accidentally in line with each other. You won’t be happy with how it looks.
- If you have more than one sconce in the same room, have at least 6’ of space in-between. But if your space is large go with 8′ – 10′.
- Always make sure they are at least 6″ from door and window frames to the edge of the fixture’s canopy.
Ultimately you don’t want to see the top of your sconce or be looking directly into a bare bulb. Protect those pretty eyes.
If you are renovating it really helps to pick out the fixtures BEFORE you place the junction box. This way you can more accurately decide the proper height and get exactly what you want. Otherwise, you will have to choose a sconce based on the placement of the box.
For a kitchen, we are big fans of the “above the window look with a task light fixture” (directional lighting, see above). However, it’s definitely not your only option.
Here are the rules you should know:
- For above the window, we ideally stick to 6″ from the top of the frame to the bottom of your fixture’s canopy. That way it won’t look too crowded.
- If you don’t want your fixture above a window or open shelf, then measure either 60” from floor or 24” from countertop to the bottom of your fixtures canopy.
Bedside sconces are a great way to give yourself some extra nightstand real estate (and if you ask me, feel very fancy).
Here’s what you need to know:
- We suggest, sitting up in your bed and measuring a few inches up from your shoulder, If you have a partner with a different height, split the difference:)
- We like to center the scone to the bedside table. However, depending on the size of the sconce you can go a couple of inches either towards or away from your bed frame.
- If you have a higher, traditional bed (25” bed height) then you can just measure 60” from the floor to the center of the junction box for standard placement.
Bathrooms and sconces are like bread and butter, they just go together. But getting the right placement is key for lighting up that beautiful face the way you want it to.
Here are the general rules:
- If you are wanting to flank your mirror (put a sconce on either side of it) then start with a 60” – 65” measurement from floor to the center of the junction box. The main goal is to install the light source around eye level so that your face is nicely lit for doing things like makeup (aka no face shadows). If your partner is a different height then split the difference or have them cave to your will:)
- If you want to install above a mirror then that measurement is typically 75” – 80”. But honestly, it depends on the mirror. So using the same 6” from the top of the mirror to the bottom of the canopy is a good rule for this too (you know, to avoid it looking crowded.)
Ok, so those are the basic, standard measurements to start with. But of course, rules are meant to be broken if you want to shake it up. So if you can, test out your fixtures before any final calls are made to see how they feel to you. After all, it’s your house:)
Now that we know the rules, let’s get shopping (if you are looking). Lighting is my Kryptonite and stopping at only 48 options was SO HARD. But I can say with confidence that all of them are awesome. Let’s get into it…
1. Ballad Sconce | 2. Mantis Wall Sconce | 3. Kuppi | 4. The Nickel Pole Sconce | 5. Davis Sconce | 6. SKURUP | 7. Gio Wall Light | 8. Morgan Black Sconce | 9. Cylinder Task Wall Light | 10. Curvilinear Mid-Century 2-Light Long Sconce | 11. Odis Sconce | 12. Karl-Johan Wall Lamp | 13. Ribbed Glass Sconce | 14. Black Metal Accordion Adjustable Wall Sconce | 15. FLUGBO
Plug-in sconces are truly my jam (mainly since I am a renter) but also because there are so many options that are making my small space dreams come true. Now I love them all but #1 and #2 are real show stoppers for me. But I am VERY impressed with #15 with that $20 price tag.
1. Berkshire Single Sconce with Linen Shades | 2. Material Wall Lamp | 3. Double Cone Brass Bowtie Wall Sconce | 4. Ray Sconce | 5. Ballroom Wall Light | 6. Reynold Matte Black Sconce | 7. Rattan + Gold Sconce 2 | 8. Modern Black Wall Sconce | 9. 24″ Ube Sconce | 10. Alabax Small Sconce | 11. Peak Sconce | 12. AP Wall Sconce | 13. Grant Sconce | 14. Gold Vanity Light | 15. Wood And Concrete Hayes Wall Sconce | 16. Mid Century Brass Wall Sconce Light | 17. Nur Wall Sconce | 18. Teti Wall Lamp
There are a lot more hardwired options which made it nearly impossible to cut it down. So 33 options it is! But out of the first 18, #2, #4, #15, and #18 are in the top ranking. I clearly have a thing for modern, natural, and neutral sconces.
19. Arc Mid-Century Sconce | 20. Lexi 8″ | 21. SKURUP | 22. Slope Acacia Wood Sconce | 23. Imbrie Articulating Sconce | 24. Dixon / Brass | 25. Hermione Sconce | 26. Vintage Sconce | 27. Rattan Sconce Light | 28. Cone Shade Sconce Lamp | 29. Warm Gold Aubrey Wall Sconce | 30. Bower LED Sconce | 31. Solid Brass Adjustable Wall Sconce Light | 32. Harlow 3 Sconce | 33. Minimalist Flush Mount
For the second batch of cuties, I am really into #20, #26, #27, #29. I may love my neutrals but I am always down for a bold pop of red:)
Remember, even if you are a renter and you have hardwired sconces that came with your home, you can easily replace them for something more you. It’s my favorite renter’s hack.
That’s it for sconces (at least, for today). Hope these rules are the answer to your sconce placement prayers and if you are in a reno and haven’t considered sconces, YOU SHOULD. If you have any questions, hop in the comments or head to our EHD Insiders Community and go straight to the Design Agony Group Chat. Yes, it’s as awesome as it sounds.
Opening Photo Credits: Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp | From: Portland Project: The Living Room Reveal
Is there a typo on the first image with Emily?? Surely Emily is taller than 4′-6″?
Exactly my first thought, lol!
I think it is supposed to be 5′ 4″, and the sconce at 60″ height.
Ugh for some reason the correct image I put in after I realized my typo didn’t save! All fixed!
I’m not in the market for a sconce right now, but I have to say, that Portland living room is still one of my favourite rooms ever designed!
It’s such a showstopper:) I love it too xx
Were you able to do the 15% pledge for this post?
Unfortunately no. I searched and searched but could only find three sources with sconces. Pendants were more prevalent but sconces not so much. But if you have any more I would LOVE to hear about them. You might have read this in yesterday’s post but this is what we said about the issues we are having with the pledge:
I also wanted to say that we are just as committed to the 15% pledge as the day we took it. Unfortunately, it has been difficult to achieve 15% with every design post, which we understand speaks to a larger issue of lacking equity and representation in the home decor market. Please know that we are not giving up or backing down. With every single roundup, we are being diligent in our research and learning of new vendors and makers we can include and support. And as always, please let us know of any wonderful BIPOC vendors, makers, or artists that you love.
Plug-in sconces have really come a long way, these look great!
Any suggestions for outdoor sconces? Rules? Sources? Thanks.
While I’m not looking for any lighting whatsoever, I read the whole post, because it was so well put together and helpful info!
Good stuff 👍
Great post! Thanks for the round up and variety of price points!
Thank you for this! Your analytics must have picked up my frantic searching for sconces last week!
This is so helpful, as always!! I am getting ready to install a pendant shade in a bedroom and wondering how many inches you recommend it hang from the ceiling? Thank you!
Just in time for the placement of my bathroom sconces!
Hi guys – I’m placing bathroom sconce junction boxes this weekend so this is PERFECT!
Question – did you mean at least 6 inches from the top of the mirror to the top of the shade/canopy of your sconce? The text reads “6 inches from the top of the mirror to the bottom of the canopy” but I’m super confused….
I’ve had such a hard time finding beautiful/cool plug in sconces… do you have any experience swapping out hardwire wiring with plug-in? Is that a thing?
Perfect timing on this post! I needed bedside sconce hanging guidelines.
Merci!! And love that Mountain House bedroom image forever.
Perfect timing! I needed help with guidelines on bedside sconce height.
Always love that mountain house bedroom shot too!
Yikes that IKEA plugin has a lead warning !
Thanks for Sharing,
This blog really informative for the interior designer and must say these designs are well planned.
Why do I get this by email, but I cannot share by email? Totally illogical. Not everyone spends hours a day on social media.
Helpful article. Do you think it’s ok to have just one scone in a sitting area? I purchased one to use in our bathroom renovation over the mirror but there wasn’t enough room. I really like to use it somewhere