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Design

Design Idea: Unique Light Switches And Covers (Vintage Options Included:))

“Oh no, she’s talking about Paris AGAIN??” Yep! You may remember that I picked up a porcelain and brass vintage light switch at the flea market I went to. I actually only considered it because my dad had already bought a couple for his home and I was admiring them when he showed them to me. Hey, if he can figure it out how to install them then so can I, right? Ha. This could easily be a cool “statement switch” moment (well in the US at least where they’re less common:)). So while a very dreamy goal, I don’t think you need them for every switch in your house. They are perfect in a room with only one switch (duh) or if you’re like me and you have a standard switch in a very prominent area that is begging to be replaced with something special. Playing with small, often overlooked details like these is an easy and (can be) affordable way to quietly make your home feel extra special and carefully considered.

This is my dear ole dad’s powder bath. While not perfectly styled (I sorta surprised him with my photo request), how cute is his little switch? Likely (in the US at least) if you’re not renovating with new drywall and a circular junction box, then you’ll need to come up with some kind of cover to go under your cute little switch. That’s because there’s going to be a rectangular hole that is larger than most of these round switches. My dad clearly used a black metal cover which nicely works with the switch’s black base. Now depending on the size of the switch you might need to DIY the plate a little and make your own holes to attach the plate securely to the wall. This is because the switch might cover the holes you would normally screw your plate into. That’s what those little gold screws are. I, of course, have other “plate plans”.

Here is my situation if you need a visual refresher. First off, why is there a switch in such an awkward spot?? Especially when I have a switch 6′ away by the doorway that doesn’t even have a function??? Not the point but happy I got that out. Back to problem-solving. In my dreams, I would love to not need a backing plate, but I’m clearly not going to be replacing any drywall or junction boxes. So I am either going to get a round piece of wood to cover the rectangular hole and ideally inset the switch into the wood a little or get a round brass plate like this, make two new holes for securing it into the wall, and call it a day. I think I’m leaving toward the wood:)

Now my dad promises it was easy to install but he’s pretty good with electrical stuff. If you aren’t or don’t have someone in your life who is, hire an electrician, ok?

Imagine how much cuter that’s going to be. Also, this is definitely going to be a “statement switch” since I only bought one. For my other switches, I’ll probably just upgrade the switchplates to brass. However, that’s not what we’re talking about right now. We are talking about cool, unique light switches for YOUR home. “But Jess, this sounds like a cool idea but where can I find these ‘unique light switches’??” Glad you asked…

1. Black Ceramic Dimmer Wall Switch: Vintage-inspired and would look SO cute in a dark bathroom with a moody wallpaper.
2. Switch Plate – Hexagon: Not the most budget-friendly but I love that brass and the unexpected shape!
3. Vintage Ceramic Toggle Switch: This is in the same world as what I think I want to do:)
4. Switch Plate – Circle: Same as #3 but a perfect little circle.
5. Porcelain Wall Switch Mint Fat Button: If you love color and/or have a vintage bathroom this guy would be so cute. It also comes in a bunch of other colors.
6. Vintage Style Ceramic Brass Toggle Switch: So cute, vintage-inspired, and comes in other colors and with a wood plate option too.
7. Period Porcelain Light Switch: Come on! Wildly adorable and great if you aren’t into metallics.
8. 1930s Double Dolly Switch: I will not get over the cuteness. I won’t.
9. Oversized Industrial French Vintage Light Switch: This is a big boy and I love the knurled accent.

But maybe you aren’t into the round look or want to avoid dealing with a rectangular hole issue. I get both of those arguments. Check these out and also remember to measure to make sure they actually are covering those holes:)

1. Vintage Style Brass Light Toggle Switch Plate: This square is so chic! Get outta there! I wish they were big enough for my other switch holes…is that a real term?
2. Black Stainless Steel Panel Wall Light Toggle Switch: A little more modern but still very special.
3. Retro Brass Toggle 220V Dimmer Electric Wall Switch: I really like this metal color and that there’s a dimmer option.
4. Antique Bronze Dimmer: This is the brand that Emily used all over the mountain house and they are so special in person.
5. Golden Brass Panel Dimmer: Again a little more modern but the brass tone is very pretty.
6. Lewis Single Push-Button Switchplate: This is what Em has all over the farmhouse (in brass) and as you can see in the photo above, they are perfect.
7. High Quality Retro Europe Type Vintage Wall Light Switch Socket: I am very into this wood square look.
8. White Porcelain Single Toggle Switch: Ideal for a bathroom.
9. 1g Toggle Brass: Chic, modern, but still feels very classic.

design by jess bunge | photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: the feel-good modern romantic bedroom makeover jess did for her dear friend (all thanks to the company store)

Ok, so while switches were the inspiration for this post, changing your outlet covers (even if it’s just the visible ones) is an even easier upgrade to your space. No electrician required;)

1. Zaha Switch Plate: I love almost everything burlwood and these are so sweet.
2. Lewis Single GFCI Switchplate: Classic and high quality! (I know because I’ve seen them in person)
3. Wiggle Switch Plate: Perfect if you’re looking for something fun but not too colorful.
4. Brass Switchplate Cover: I really love this metal finish but it’s definitely pricey.
5. White Marble Switch Wall Plate: I love the idea of this and want to see them in person!
6. Antique Brass 1 Duplex Switch Plate Cover: A great-looking affordable brass option.

There you have it, choosing a unique switch is such a great way to mix things up *she says to herself, staring at her “new” switch*. Just make sure that whatever you buy works with the electrical in your country and enjoy a whole new light switch experience.

Love you, mean it.

Opening Image Credits: Photo by Kaitlin Green | From: Farmhouse Kitchen Reveal

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Beth
1 year ago

Love this deep dive! It’s one key reason I come back daily. Can’t wait to see your reveals!

Sally
1 year ago
Reply to  Beth

Me either.
Also really looking forward to Caitlin’s.

Kristi
1 year ago

Vintage light switches…I will be pondering you today but had no idea I would be when I woke up:) plus I like that it doesn’t create such a need (like I need this but shouldn’t be buying)..just a fun thing to percolate. Thx!

CET
1 year ago

Your idea to cover the electrical box with wood — while lovely — is a fire hazard and code violation (at least where I live).

Sheryl
1 year ago
Reply to  CET

Might be possible to put a “code-safe” backing on the wood piece, to make Jess’s idea work. Def need an electrician to advise.

1 year ago
Reply to  Sheryl

Yes, the wood ones you can buy can, and should, have a metal backer.

DeniseGK
1 year ago
Reply to  CET

Yeah, hopefully it’s just awkward wording and she meant the wood switchplates or wood covers that are made for covering a hole when you’ve removed a switch. Jesse is still a young woman and obviously more comfortable writing on the internet than an old crab like me, the conversational/specificity balance can be hard for all of us. I’m usually too formal and sound like I’m teaching a class!

Susan
1 year ago

I appreciate that all of you at EHD work so hard to create and post content every day on this blog. It means a lot to me. I read every morning with my coffee. Just thinking maybe you all don’t get thanked enough for what you do.

Gabrielle
1 year ago

Thanks, looks good….what about all those Meljac switches in France….big heart swoon.
please keep bringing on the Paris…..we are living thru you in these moments. Thanks Jess!

Laureline
1 year ago
Reply to  Gabrielle

Have a look in the news about what’s happening in Paris right now. For sure Jess went at the right time

Katie
1 year ago

Jess, I would be really careful using a switch from another country because the voltage ratings might not be the same. Those switches are very cute, but I think safe trumps cute when it comes to electricity.

1 year ago
Reply to  Katie

100% agreed – I am currently renovating a house and know far more about this sort of thing than I though I ever would. The vast majority of the switches recommended, while beautiful, are not safe to use in the US.

Cris S.
1 year ago
  1. Talking about Paris is always a good idea.
  2. Love your dad. And his light switch.
  3. I had already wanted to move from the builder grade plastic covers to brass, but now I’m fantasizing about buttons! instead of the current large flat toggles.
  4. BUT my daughter/we are paying OOS tuition the next four years so buttons will probably remain a fantasy. I’ll probably pull the plastic ones off and paint them instead as a very cheap way of making things feel better.
  5. Thank you for the inspiration!
Emily
1 year ago

Another great place to look is House of Antique Hardware. They have tons of reproduction hardware of all types and styles. My favorites are the fox door knocker (https://www.houseofantiquehardware.com/fox-door-knocker) and the brass door signs (https://www.houseofantiquehardware.com/shop-by-type/antique-door-hardware/door-accessories/brass-door-signs).

Karen
1 year ago
Reply to  Emily

Now I think I need a “No Loitering” sign on my one for 4 people bathroom door.

Sheila
1 year ago

What a fun post! Paris…Jess & her dad…and something I’ve never thought of – vintage electrical switches.

Kimmie
1 year ago

I’m planning an eventual overhaul of my 120-year-old home’s mix-matched covers, and this is so helpful, but before I do, my priority this year is to replace all of our crappy, broken, and cheap vent covers/registers. If anyone has a recommendation, I would be so so grateful. I’ve looked online a few times but feel clueless about what to look for and what is long-lasting. I want decorative brass or cast iron that won’t dent and will age well in my crooked, creeky Victorian home.

Emily
1 year ago
Reply to  Kimmie

House of Antique Hardware ;linked above) has some great options, although they can get pricey. I’ve actually seen decent looking brass-looking ones at Lowe’s, too.

Kerri
1 year ago
Reply to  Kimmie

I highly recommend register covers from Signature Hardware. We got the Farina Floor register in brass + spring clips (b/c we were replacing a wall register cover). It’s soooo gorgeous!

Rhonda
1 year ago
Reply to  Kimmie

Any architectural salvage business will have lots of them.

Ellen
1 year ago
Reply to  Kimmie

Reggio Registers are amazing. Very attractive and high quality cast iron with excellent craftsmanship. Not cheap, but none of them are these days. We chose the the “square” vent style for our whole house and couldn’t be happier.
reggioregister.com or available at build.com etc.

kiki
1 year ago

I have to say I saw this on insta and clicked through once i got to my desktop thinking it would be more of the same (House of Antique Hardware, Rejuvenation, maybe a Lowes link, etc). But boy was I pleasantly surprised with some totally unexpected options!! Great finds! I have solid brass switch-plates in much of my house, but they are stamped with a really bad 80’s floral design…I wonder if there’s a market to re-sell them?? And switch them out to something that fits the house better?

priscilla
1 year ago

OMG, I never knew I needed these!

Betty
1 year ago

I had lusted over the Lomax and Buster & Punch switches during our Reno, but could not justify the price. We ended up with the Lutron style white plastic just to be a minimal as possible. I feel like there are only two good ways to go with switch plates – something obviously eye-catching and special or something you barely even see. I was shocked and excited to see the cheap price listed above for the Etsy switch with the dimmer, but that is NOT an accurate prices for the item pictured. It is $96 dollars – big difference!

Sally
1 year ago

A little off topic, but please designers, contractors, renovators, please think about the placement of switches and outlets. They do NOT need to be polka dots on your tile backsplashes! They can run just under the cabinets, they can pop up from counters, they can have covers that match your tile. Please, everyone, think it through! But it makes zero sense to spend hundreds and thousands of dollars on a backsplash just to cut holes in it for outlets. Save your stager the trouble of finding the perfect wooden cutting board to hide those suckers!

Emma
1 year ago
Reply to  Sally

While I agree about aesthetics, sometimes code dictates that outlets are visible, spaced at a certain interval, and placed in clearly delineated ways. Hiding them under cabinets is not to code in the state where I live, for example, but they can definitely have covers that match the tile. I would be very interested to read a post where a designer like Emily discusses her “aestheticizing” certain things that code does not allow you to change.

Cris S.
1 year ago
Reply to  Sally

Totally agree Sally. Came into the kitchen one day and they’d cut holes in the quartz slabs in the worst places. They never even asked. And you completely called it – I have antique wood cutting boards or cast iron scales in front of every one of them!

Betty
1 year ago
Reply to  Sally

I wish I had thought more about this in our kitchen reno. The outlets near the sink have to be a certain height on the wall. Many of my other outlets could have been lower and horizontal to blend in more. I didn’t think of it early enough and my electrician certainly didn’t. Definitely a lesson learned!

Lane
1 year ago

It’s a luxury for sure when one can make a task of turning on the light esthetically and tactilely pleasant. The switches are beautiful, maybe when we are in a forever home I’ll be tempted to buy.

Roberta Davis
1 year ago

I wired a couple of ceiling fixtures. Then when I had to call my electrician because one of them wasn’t working, he told me that it had been wired incorrectly and was actually a hazard. No more wiring for me! I’d rather not die tragically in a fire of my own making. But these are cool-looking options!

Sarah
1 year ago

Awesome idea and SAFETY FIRST!

Leeanne Holgan
1 year ago

Hi Em, do the buttons dim?