Lights and their shades
May 29, 2016 5:08 PM   Subscribe

the house i have just moved into (inexplicably) has all the lights mounted on the walls, with bulbs pointing sideways out of the fixtures, no sconces or shades on them, just plain light bulbs. the bulbs are all (HORRIBLE) fluorescent lights. This will not stand. 1) exactly what bulbs should we be using? Low- to medium budget solutions preferred. 2) where can you get (or make) awesome light covers for wall-mounted lights? i have no idea. 3) general tips about bulbs and lights are very welcome, thank you.

Light bulbs - I always buy the wrong bulbs since everything became fluorescent, and everything looks so institutional. My home is not a parking garage, I need help. EXACTLY which bulbs should I buy (if you have a PARTICULAR bulb that you use in your home and you like it, please oh please link me to it. i can't spend any more money on making my home like the DMV).

Wall-mounted light sconces - what's up with this? is this a thing? i have never seen this before, but more importantly i can't seem to find cool-looking ways to cover up the exposed bulbs. i am fairly crafty and could rig up something if it looked good. maybe i lack the right search terms because i look online and find exactly nothing that makes any sense to me. Our tastes run more modern than classic, price is definitely an issue but if i saw something super fancy i would try to DIY recreate it.

Thank you.
posted by andreapandrea to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
There are clip-on light shades that clip right onto the bulb, as one option. I have seen a variety available at local hardware stores, or you can order them online.

Replacing light fixtures yourself isn't that hard to do, by the way.
posted by lizbunny at 5:21 PM on May 29, 2016

Half-chrome bulbs cost around $3-$10 each. The chrome caps minimize the glare, and they're incandescent so they cast a beautiful warm light. These specific bulbs should be good- 60W is a nice light level- bright but not searing- and the spherical bulb shape will look nice. For rooms where the attractiveness of the glow is less important, there are LED versions too.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 5:31 PM on May 29, 2016

GE Reveal bulbs now come in pretty much every flavor, incandescent, LED, halogen, etc. They're supposed to look more homey, and they do, to a certain extent. Wall sconces are definitely a thing, but you may have trouble finding glass that fits unless it's a very common fixture or can accept a very common shade. Got a picture?
posted by sageleaf at 6:28 PM on May 29, 2016

It sounds like your place has keyless fixtures installed? This was probably done because the previous occupant had some sort of fancy fixture they wanted to take with them and keyless fixtures are the cheapest bulb holder you can buy.

If you have keyless fixtures you can by shades that clip into the groove around next to where the blub screws in (if the fixture has the groove, not all of them do). I can't seem to find anything but wire guards on line though. You might have to inquire at a lighting place. If you are crfty you could use the mount of a wire guard to construct any sort of shade you wanted.

Here's a blog post about using half silvered bulbs with images of them in use.
posted by Mitheral at 7:02 PM on May 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

Mitheral, YES! they're keyless fixtures, you're right about everything except that the previous tenants had fancy stuff that they took. WE are the fancy tenants, everyone else was cool with exposed fluorescent bulbs jutting out of the wall.

these are some great ideas, thank you everyone. i think we are gonna try those dipped bulbs and hope that it does the trick and looks cool, because those clip-on light shades are really practical but not, um, what we are looking for.
posted by andreapandrea at 9:22 PM on May 29, 2016

I know the clip on shades aren't very cool but neither is shattering an exposed light bulb with your head, a broom handle or a vacuum cleaner (I've done all three).
posted by pintapicasso at 4:59 AM on May 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

Fixtures are actually really easy to change up- you don't even need an electrician if you know how to turn off the circuit. I enjoy bumming atound in their lighting section.

If you dont want to change out the fixtures- There is a whole world of vintage inspired bulbs. Google "edison bulbs and you'd see a lot (full disclosure- my wife works at a place that manufacturers vintage bulbs- you can see them at, but there are hundreds of places you could get them from). i dont know how much they cost from other places, but a pack of 4 vintage bulbs cost about 25 bucks at lights.
posted by griphus at 7:44 AM on May 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

Pay close attention to the color of light your new bulbs will put out.
Warm, 2700k = yellowish no matter how bright it is
Warm/cool., 3500 k = yellow to natural
Daylight, 5000k = more like natural daylight. Some folk think this is too cold or washed out, but I love it.

Be kind to the climate and use LED lighting as much as possible.
posted by SLC Mom at 7:18 AM on May 31, 2016

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