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How can I improve these wall sconces?
May 11, 2009 4:44 AM   Subscribe

How can I cover or otherwise improve the ugly wall sconces in my apartment?

My apartment has three of these very unattractive wall sconces--two in the living room and one in the bedroom. As you can see by the photo, they look like something you might twist to activate the secret door in the bookcase (no such luck). The on-off knob is the lower one. I've looked online and in hardware stores for shades for them, but I've never really found anything to my liking. Some shades with the wire mounts that go on top of the bulb itself look like they came out of a colonial bed and breakfast (no offense to colonial B&Bs, it's just not what I want at home). Others have a sleek 90's modern look that I also don't really care for.

I also found plans on Instructables for a shoji-style lamp that I could probably modify to cover the sconces, but I'm not wild about that either.

Currently I just avoid using two of the three sconces, and I use the other one occasionally with just the bare bulb (a GE Reveal, which is a little nicer, but still kind of harsh without a shade).

Can anyone suggest online sources that might offer a good selection of sconce shades, other DIY options, or other bulbs that would be tolerable without a shade?
posted by 6and12 to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
How about a larger version of this in, well, a hipper fabric or print?

Here's a place where you could get wall lamp shades and do whatever you want with them.

This is a photograph, but you could find something like these to cover them up (you didn't mention what your decor is like).

The last option, of course, is to ask your landlord to allow you to update them with something a little more in this century. It's not hard to do. But in the mean time, have fun with Martha's links. :)
posted by dancinglamb at 5:19 AM on May 11, 2009


I forgot to point out that if you do the paper route from the Martha link, you could go really crazy with handmade stuff. Just make sure that you consider the opacity of whatever you choose. If you want something that is going to redirect the light so that it bounces back off against the wall, then go with something really thick like a rag paper. But if you want something thinner that will just diffuse the light, go with a thinner linen or cotton, maybe with leaves pressed in it.

You can also use raw silk (just use a spray adhesive on the shade), or whatever other fabric that might catch your eye.
posted by dancinglamb at 5:24 AM on May 11, 2009


IKEA also sells some cool sconce shades that we installed that may fit over those.
posted by jeanmari at 7:23 AM on May 11, 2009


If you use a flood or reflector bulb, the light would be directed up at the ceiling, making it less harsh.

You'd still have the visually unappealing sconce to look at though.
posted by orme at 7:51 AM on May 11, 2009


Frankly if I was in this apartment I'd turn off the circuit breakers, remove these sconces altogether, and put in a regular sconce of some kind. Then when moving out, put them back. Then again I've lived in places where the landlords never come in until the lease is up.
posted by crapmatic at 7:53 AM on May 11, 2009


I think they're fantastic - 19-teens gothic revival? How old is your apartment building? But, if you don't like them you don't like them. Just don't toss them. They're part of the historic fabric of the building, and also relatively valuable as these things go.

Rejuvenation.com sells little paper shades that clip onto the front. That would help with the glare.
posted by infodiva at 7:54 AM on May 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


I kind of love them, to be honest. How about just changing out the bulbs to something clear with a decorative filament? Install a wall dimmer so you can keep them at a glow when you want, and you've got a fixture that wouldn't look out of place in a swanky bar or hotel.
posted by Thin Lizzy at 10:05 AM on May 11, 2009


Frankly if I was in this apartment I'd turn off the circuit breakers, remove these sconces altogether, and put in a regular sconce of some kind. Then when moving out, put them back. Then again I've lived in places where the landlords never come in until the lease is up.

That's what I've done. I had ugly wall-mounted lights too. I got these nice fixtures at Ikea ($14.99) and installed them. Kept the old fixtures as well, in case the landlord wants to use them after I go.

Installing is very simple. Just make sure the circuit breaker is off and that you know which wires to connect to which. (They're color coded.)
posted by mudpuppie at 10:19 AM on May 11, 2009


I'm with Thin Lizzy - my first impulse is to stick in an Edison bulb and rock the turn of the century look. They don't cast much light, but as TL points out, they are all the rage in restaurant/bar/hotel interiors right now.

An alternative is to remove the sconces, paint them a bright color and use either unshaded round bulbs like you would see on a vanity, or shaded regular bulbs. I think bright turquoise with a round bulb might be cute.
posted by ladypants at 12:02 PM on May 11, 2009


New idea:
If it's the antique-i-ness of the fixtures that has you down, how about just replacing the bulbs with some funky blue compact fluorescents and use them for dramatic mood lighting? Very Spring Awakening if you like that sort of thing.
posted by Thin Lizzy at 12:37 AM on May 12, 2009


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