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How to choose the right wall light

From creating ambience to highlighting features, few elements hold as much influence over a space's atmosphere as lighting. And while pendant lights, floor lamps and table lamps all serve well in lighting schemes, wall lights, in particular, are the unsung heroes of illumination, seamlessly blending functionality with aesthetic appeal. Here, we share tips for selecting and installing the best wall lights for your home.

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When should you consider wall lights?

Wall lights are a versatile and space-saving choice that can serve as task, ambient or accent lighting.
Task Lighting: For focused illumination while reading, working, or cooking.
Ambient Lighting: To create a soft, overall glow that complements natural light.
Accent Lighting: To highlight artworks, architectural details, or decorative elements.

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The different types of wall lights

Each type of wall light delivers a distinct function and effect, depending on the styles, materials and shapes you choose. 


Styles

Wall sconce: Classic wall sconces can be single or double-arm fixtures in countless decorative designs.
Flush-mount wall light: Flush-mount wall lights offer little to no distance between the light fixture and the wall; a compact option that provides broad and even illumination.
Swing-arm light: Swing-arm lights feature a bulb mounted on an adjustable arm to give you control of the light direction - perfect for reading nooks or bedside. 
Up/down light: Up-down lights cast light both upwards and downwards, creating a dramatic effect. A popular outdoor lighting choice.

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Materials

Metal: Sleek and modern, metal wall lights are available in various finishes like brass, chrome, and matte black.
Glass: Glass shaded wall lights diffuse light softly, delivering an elegant look and a warm ambience.
Rattan & fabric: To bring natural warmth and texture into your space, you can't beat rattan or fabric wall lights.
 

Shapes

Contemporary: Clean lines for a modern look.
Country: Lamps and lanterns deliver a chic provincial vibe.
Industrial: Utilitarian swing-arms and exposed bulbs offer a trendy, urban aesthetic.

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Where should you use wall lights?

Wall lights find their perfect place wherever you're after a touch of focused or ambient illumination. Popular placements include:
Entryways & hallways: Use wall lights to light up a long entryway or hallway and create an inviting path. You may also want to use them leading up a staircase which creates a flow throughout the house and provides adequate lighting in potentially hazardous areas. 
Bedrooms: Wall sconces as bedside lighting has grown in popularity recently. They're particularly effective with a dimmable lighting feature included. 

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Bathrooms: For task lighting for applying make-up or shaving, consider wall lights on either side of the bathroom mirror for even, flattering illumination. Beyond being functional, they also add a luxurious hotel-like look to your bathroom. 
Empty spaces & highlights: Wall lights can fill awkward spaces and turn them into more of a functional feature, such as a reading nook. They can also frame oversized architectural features and illuminate wall art or high ceilings. 

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Installing wall lights

When considering wall lights, take note of whether they need to be hardwired or can plug directly into an outlet. If you go with a plug-in option, be aware of power outlets when choosing where you place your light and think about how you'll deal with the electrical cord in terms of hiding it or leaving it exposed. 
Hardwired wall lights: Permanent installation, requiring an electrician's expertise.
Plug-In wall lights: Easily movable, just plug into an electrical outlet – ideal for renters.

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Guidelines for hanging wall lights

The best guide to follow when hanging wall lights is to keep them around eye-level to avoid harsh shadows, generally between 1.6m and 1.8m. Wall height will come into play though, so adjust for high ceilings.
 
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Along long stretches of wall, such as hallways, space lights out every 2m to 3m.

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For task lighting in rooms such as the kitchen and laundry, allow 60cm to 75cm clearance from the surface of countertops or tables.

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When placing wall lights near windows and doors, leave a minimum gap of 25cm between the edge of the frame and the light.

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To highlight a decorative feature such as a mirror, evenly space lights on either side of the piece.

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Natalie Mell 25 August, 2023

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