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bedside sconces 3

I’m often asked about the swing arm wall sconces flanking our bed. Are they adjustable? Are they hardwired? At what height are they mounted? How do you power them on/off? What types of bulbs do you use? This is my attempt to address those questions but I should give you fair warning: There is no one-size-fits-all answer. Different people have different needs when it comes to bedside lighting. You should choose what works for your lifestyle, but maybe the information below will give you a gauge if you’re considering bedside sconces.

bedside sconces 4

We have a pair of the House of Troy Addison swing arm lamps in antique brass. The sconce is adjustable horizontally, not vertically. The arm is hinged and the brass shade rotates. It is a little stiff to move but holds positions well. Typically, we don’t adjust the sconces. We purposefully mounted them so that they were in functional positions from the start.

bedside sconces 6

The sconces are not hardwired. They plug in to an outlet behind the headboard. Each sconce came with a matching 30″ brass cord cover which we used in the space between the top of the nightstand and the backplate. If you like the clean look of a hardwired sconce but for whatever reason aren’t able to install one, a plug-in design with a quality cord cover is a great option.

Before mounting the lights, I searched for hard and fast rules regarding the recommended height of bedside wall sconces. What I found were general guidelines. The most practical tip I came across (and ultimately used) was to get into bed in my regular reading position then measure from the floor to a few inches above my shoulder. The measurement is a rough estimate of how high the bottom of the shade should be positioned.

Of course, this measurement is influenced by numerous factors: the height of the bed, an individual’s height, preferred reading position, the needs of sleeping partners, etc. Our bed is relatively low. It’s 24″ from the floor to the top of the mattress. I’m relatively short. I’m 5’4″ with shoes on, on a good day. I prefer to read in a reclining position with my knees up, not sitting straight yet not lying flat. Steve isn’t much of a bedtime reader and, on the rare occasion he does read in bed, he usually lies flat with only his head propped on a pillow. That’s why our sconces are mounted mostly to my specifications. (If you have a shorter/taller sleeping partner, you may need to compromise on the height of bedside lighting or consider a sconce that adjusts vertically as well as horizontally. Obviously, you don’t want to mount one sconce higher than the other.)

When I stepped back and eyeballed the lamps at the height just above my shoulder, they felt too low. (Probably because our bed is low and I’m short.) In the end, I decided to mount the bottom of the shade 50″ from the floor, roughly 8″- 10″ above my shoulder when reading in bed. This height is consistent with another tip I came across which was to mount the shade ~24″ from the top of the nightstand. The distance between our nightstands and sconces is 26″.

Personally, I like the look and function of sconces mounted off to the side rather than directly above a headboard. (Additionally, the placement of a window above our bed wouldn’t allow for sconces mounted above the headboard.) For swing arm lamps, I like the shades to overlap the width of the headboard just a little for a layered effect. The distance between the cord cover and the edge of our headboard is 8″.

bedside sconce 2

There is a small rotary switch at the shade to turn the light on/off. It’s easily reached from bed so there’s no need to walk across the room half-asleep to flip a switch. Initially, I put a 60 watt incandescent bulb in each lamp. Steve was always complaining the bulbs were too bright. I tried a small book light but it didn’t pass the Prince and the Bulb test either. Steve bought me an e-reader for my birthday to try to resolve the problem (and because I asked for one). It works great for most books but I can’t completely quit real books and glossies.

Recently, the kind folks at Ace Hardware offered to send me LED replacements for the sconces. I was put in touch with one of their lighting experts to determine which bulbs would be the best fit for our needs. I learned so much about LEDs! For instance, when it comes to LED bulbs “lumens” refers to brightness. 800 lumens is comparable to a traditional 60 watt bulb. Also, different LED bulbs give off different temperatures of white light. “Soft white” bulbs give off warm and cozy light while “daylight” bulbs have a cooler tone. For LEDs, the higher the Kelvin (K) temperature, the cooler the light. Bulbs <3000K are considered “soft white”; bulbs >4600K are considered “daylight.”

bedside sconces 5

When it came to choosing LED bulbs for the sconces, I knew I wanted them to be comparable to 40-60 watts of incandescent light. Since the sconces are in our bedroom, I wanted a soft, warm light as opposed to a cool light. A 500 lumens 3000K LED bulb ended up being the sweet spot for our bedside lighting needs. (All images in this post except the one above labeled ‘incandescent’ show the light given off by the new LED bulbs at dusk on an overcast day.)

I can’t get over the difference. The LED light is pure yet warm and cozy at the same time. It’s the best of both worlds. The incandescent reads orange and dirty in comparison. The LED bulbs better portray the true colors of the walls and textiles in our north-facing bedroom. Steve still says my reading light is too bright when he’s trying to sleep. At this point, I think he would say any light was too bright. So I ordered a manly sleep mask for him ;) These are the little secrets to happy marriages, folks!

bedside sconce 1

Truthfully, I have been slow to jump on the LED bandwagon. We installed LED over- and under-cabinet lighting in our kitchen and, at the time, it was an expensive extra. However, after realizing how much we use it and how much it affects our everyday living, it’s been a worthy investment. We use the cabinet lighting as ambient lighting during early mornings and late evenings. By day, we let natural light from windows, french doors and skylights do its thing. By night, we mostly rely on ambient light for a soft glow. Steve and I are both strongly averse to harsh, blue lighting. I swear, we’re part vampire.

A few weeks prior to collaborating with Ace Hardware, the incandescent above our kitchen sink burned out and I hastily grabbed an LED replacement at a local grocery store. I didn’t pay attention to the specs (size, lumens, Kelvin, etc.) and, as a result, the bulb is way too bulky, bright and cold for my taste. And I’m stuck with it for at least the next 15 years! Bummer. But now that I’m familiar with the LED lingo, I’m looking forward to switching out our remaining incandescents with soft white LEDs as they burn out.

Do you have any tips for mounting bedside sconces? Do you and your spouse have different bedtime lighting needs? Have you figured out which LED bulbs suit your home best? I inadvertently came across these easy plug-in LED dimmers that allow dimmable LED bulbs to be dimmed when/where hardwired dimmer switches aren’t possible. Pretty cool!

*This post sponsored in part by Ace Hardware. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this blog.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

45 Comments

30.December.2015

Love your style! I have a couple of bedroom questions not related to LEDs. First, do you recommend your nightstands? I am thinking of buying the same ones from Overstock. Also, I am curious why you changed your duvet. Were you just wanting to switch up the look or did you dislike the Dwell duvet for some reason?

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replied on January 5th, 2016

Love our nightstands!! I would buy them all over again. I’ll be posting about the new bedding in a future post, so stay tuned for that. My reasons for switching up the bedding were both form- and function-related. More soon!

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30.December.2015

This was *such* a good sponsored post! I knew it was sponsored as soon as the lightbulbs were mentioned, but you somehow made the information useful and natural, rather than canned and irritating. I hope other bloggers take note–THIS is how to write a sponsored post without annoying your readers!

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replied on January 5th, 2016

Aw thanks, Kate. When I say yes to a sponsored post (I say no to waaaaaay more), it’s because the product or service is something I need or use regardless of this blog. These LED bulbs were timely and I really did learn how to choose the best LED bulbs for our home. I always try to offer a little extra something in sponsored posts, too, so if a reader isn’t interested in the product/service at least he/she learns something new about me or my home. Here, it was the info on mounting bedside sconces.

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30.December.2015

Did I miss a post where you talk about switching up your bedding?! Love the new look. Any advice on where to find a mudcloth that wide? I’ve been wanting one for the end of my bed but they all seem a bit too small. thanks!

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replied on January 5th, 2016

Bedding post coming soon!

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30.December.2015

Thanks for the update! I’m currently trying to finding the perfect sconces for our bedside, so this is a very timely post!

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30.December.2015

Why not move your new kitchen LED that’s too bright and cold to your laundry room, garage, or utility area where you might want a more pure white light (to see/fix stains, work on projects, etc.)? No need to stick with it for 15 years in such an important area of your house. Love your bedside lamps!

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replied on January 5th, 2016

I do need to find a new home for it. We use the light above the sink on a daily basis, so we should really use a bulb we like.

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30.December.2015

You changed your bedding! Can you talk about that in a post? I love it!

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replied on January 5th, 2016

I will! Stay tuned…

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30.December.2015

I don’t hesitate to return bulbs these days if they aren’t right. It’s so complicated and they’re expensive – the manufacturers are going to have to get better at either designing the information on the package or providing better displays for retailers.

This said by a woman whose front yard is bathed in piercing blue light from a couple of CFL’s she bought way back before she adopted the return policy!

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30.December.2015

This post came just in time! I’m considering some adjustable wall lamps for our bedroom and your tips are so helpful. Part of my husband’s job has to do with energy efficiency, so he’s all about LED’s. I especially like that they’re cool when lighted.

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replied on January 5th, 2016

Yes, another LED plus when the bulbs are exposed and within reach of little hands…like when used in bedside sconces.

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30.December.2015

I never tire of seeing pictures of your bedroom, so you could have written about anything…but great post ;)

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30.December.2015

Your sconces {and bedroom} are beautiful! Looks like a cozy retreat for a cold winter’s eve! Happy New Year, Dana!

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30.December.2015

Hi Dana: I learn so much from your posts. Thank you for sharing. I also have my bed under a window so the placement of bedside scones will come in handy. On a somewhat related note… I recently bought this sleep mask after having tried others and absolutely love it. I have given it as Xmas presents to family and friends. I like it because the eye patches are concave and give my eyes room “to breath” and they are very lightweight. I thought I would share with you too:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00M9BC1M8?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o02_s00

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replied on January 5th, 2016

Awesome! Thanks for sharing.

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30.December.2015

…but what brand did you use in them? Ace carries several…

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replied on January 5th, 2016

These are Feit.

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30.December.2015

I’ve been looking for some pillows like your green shams! Where did you find yours? Thank you!!!

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31.December.2015

Why not craigslist the kitchen sink LED light? You may not get all of your cash back, but someone would probably appreciate an almost new, discounted LED light. And you can get one you like better to replace it. Why live with something you don’t like for 15 years?

Also, wow, your sconces are way bigger than I expected. I thought the covers were a little bigger than a tennis ball cut in half, but judging from the photo of you reading in bed, they’re big enough to be a hat!

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replied on January 5th, 2016

I could sell that kitchen bulb. Great idea!

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01.January.2016

Happy New Year! Can you list sources of you new bedding? Thank you.

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01.January.2016

Hi Dana, I love your blog, and I am happy to see you explain to people the benefits of LED. We built a house in 2014 and ALL of our lighting is LED, it was one of the conditions we set our architects. It is also amazing to see how small our electrical bill is each month, especially in summer.

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01.January.2016

I absolutely love this look, but I like to change my bedroom furniture around too much. How did you come to turns with that?

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replied on January 5th, 2016

Unfortunately (fortunately??), this is really the only way our bedroom furniture can be placed without blocking a doorway or crowding the room. Plug-in sconces could still be an option for you. I know patching screw holes isn’t fun but it’s a quick and easy fix should you decide to move things around.

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01.January.2016

Move that kitchen light to a closet or the garage, and replace it with one that makes you happier!

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replied on January 5th, 2016

I know! I’ve been searching for a new home for that bulb since the day I bought it :)

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01.January.2016

Great information and thoughts on bedside sconces. I agree with your appreciation of LED lighting, we just installed overhead LED lights in our kitchen and they have made a world of difference. Getting off topic, I noticed your bedroom has a natural fiber rug, it looks wonderful…do you or your husband find it to be rough on your feet? I am struggling with putting a jute rug in our living room, but fear it might be too rough on the feet.

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replied on January 5th, 2016

The jute is soft but nubby. It isn’t rough as in scratchy. We love it! I like using jute rugs in bedrooms but prefer more durable sisal for areas with more traffic. Hope that helps!

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01.January.2016

Your bedroom is fantastic!!
Where is all of you bedding from? I really love the blankets and pillows.
Thanks
Shenandoah

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02.January.2016

Hi! I like the bedding. Could you tell me where the cream colored blanket is from? Thank you for your time. Happy new year.

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03.January.2016

Hi Dana ! I’m slowly switching to LEDs as well. You can maybe use your LED bulb from the kitchen sink in a sconce outside (over the patio or the garage door) a replace it with a soft warm bulb ? No waste and a happy lady in the kitchen ! Happy new year !

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replied on January 5th, 2016

Thanks for the suggestion! I’ve been trying to find a new home for the kitchen bulb…

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03.January.2016

Is that a new duvet cover? I’m in the market for one and was checking out a linen number from West Elm — it looks similar to yours!

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04.January.2016

In our house we have switched all of our incandescents/flourescents to LED’s over the past few years. In California, they have outlawed the sale of incandescents because of how incredibly wasteful they are from an energy standpoint (California leads the nation in laws combatting climate change). I was at a fair a few years ago where they showed the difference in energy use between incandescents and flourescents (and LEDs save more than flourescents). You had to stationary bike to power a lightbuld. It took one or two rotations to turn on the flourescent bulb, and no one could bike fast enough to turn on the incandescent. That was a wake up call! Not only do you save money on your electric bill, you help save our planet! LEDs have come so far in the last few years in terms of beauty and costs coming down. You can buy inexpensive ones at IKEA!

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04.January.2016

(At the risk of sounding creepy…) You changed your bedding! Can you share where you found the beautiful linens? Is it the same as the ones in your boy’s room? How do you feel about the Euro pillows? Not sure what the heck to do with ours. In front? Behind? Who knows.

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04.January.2016

Your bedroom updates are beautiful! Would you mind sharing about the new bed linens?

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04.January.2016

Hi! Wondering where your bedding is from…..I especially like the blue throw. Happy New Year to you!

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05.January.2016

I’d love to know where you got your new bedding! Thanks!

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05.January.2016

I’m excited to read this post – and see the pictures – as we are preparing to overhaul our house with LEDs. Are you able to share the brand name of the bulbs you chose in this public space? We’ve purchased a couple different brands for comparison, and I’ve noticed different brands put off different qualities of light, even when labeled the same lumens and K. Thanks again for the helpful post!

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replied on January 5th, 2016

The brand used in the bedside sconces is Feit but I’ve since had luck with Philips too…living room lamp burned out!

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08.January.2016

I finally found some 100-watt equivalent (1600 lumens) dimmable LED bulbs that are small enough to fit inside the flush-mount ceiling fixtures in my kitchen and family room. Then I replaced the switches with LED-compatible dimmer switches. So nice to have bright light for cooking or other tasks and then dim it down for dinner or TV time. The quality of the light is so much more appealing to me than the CFLs that I replaced. I’ll be curious to see how long they last.

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05.March.2016

Love the lamps! What’s the finish on the inside of the shade? Is it white, or the same brass on the outside?

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