How functional is your bedside lighting?
Can you read easily? Is your half of the bed properly lit for other bed-cozy tasks like needlepoint or knitting? Is there a way to dim the lights when it’s time to change the mood?
If there are more “no” than “yes” answers to this informal quiz, then it may be time to switch to wall-mounted adjustable sconces in place of bedside lamps.
I began looking carefully at these when I replaced ours this past summer. My husband’s decorator had installed them perfectly for our 42-inch high, king size headboard — 8-inches from each side and 6-inches above it. Fully extended arms on the old ones measured 17-inches and shades were 10-inches high.
As I looked replacements online, I searched for “swing-arm wall sconces” on lighting sites, then spent hours learning what was available in the various styles, arm and shade sizes, finishes and price ranges. Since ours were “pin-ups” (the pro lighting term for wall-mounted lights that plug in) sconces requiring direct-wire electrical junction boxes recessed into the wall were automatically ruled out. However, each bedroom requires a sconce style and placement that works well with the bed and headboard designs.
Swing Arm Pin-Up Sconces with Banded Shades [top] – These traditional, dark-bronze swing-arms line up so that the bottom of the shades are level with the lowest point on each side of the headboard. Since the arms are not very long, they were mounted relatively close on each side. While shades can vary in color, size and material, these have a custom-looking red bands on top and bottom to pick up a color in the room. The telltale sign for pin-ups are the neat metal cord covers that run below each sconce.
Swing-Arm Sconces with Bobeches and Candle Sleeves – New York designer Jeffrey Bilhuber created this romantic, curtained bed for actress Mariska Hargitay’s apartment. With fabric running behind the headboard as well as enclosing the sides, the optimal solution is this one: adjustable sconces mounted over and above with backplates concealed by the bed hangings. All that’s visible is arms and shades, giving the lights a nearly magical aura of floating in softness. One fine point here (so typical of Bilhuber): these delicately scaled, polished brass sconces have bobeches – collars on the candle sleeves – with finials below. That bottom detailing provides a perfectly finished look when seen from below.
Headboard-Mounted Two-Arm Wall Lights – Building the bed directly into a wall unit that contains shelves and bedside storage poses a headboard as well as a lighting issue. New York designer Celerie Kemble solved it by treating an upholstered section of the wall as the headboard. In keeping with the bookcase theme, adjustable bronze-tone library lights with conical metal shades were chosen for inside the bed nook and mounted directly into the upholstery. This pair, from Visual Comfort, are the hand-rubbed antique brass Boston Functional Library wall lights ($273 at neenaslighting.com).