365 Objects Of Design

10 of the best Wall Lights

22nd January 2019

As promised last week, today we’re going to look at wall lights, which are perfect for those who are low of ceiling or short of space for table lamps. Wall lamps have had a bad rap in recent years as they tend to be associated with twee country cottages, and were often either wrought iron affairs with tiny shades or, in the 1980s, versions of scallops and shell uplighters that served mostly to catch dust and flies.

wall lights by original btc in the kitchen at madaboutthehouse.com

wall lights by original btc in the kitchen at madaboutthehouse.com

You can see why they fell out of favour. But, as is so often the case, having been ignored by the trend setters for so long, designers had to wake up and get busy and now there are masses to choose from in every style and to suit every budget.

They can also suit every house now that there are so many different ones available. So before you dismiss them out of hand let’s look at a few places where they can work really well.

banana wall light by seletti (£195)

banana wall light by seletti (£195) from Hurn & Hurn

Firstly, wall lights can be good in the kitchen where you might have spotlights in the ceiling but want something a bit softer if you eat in there as well. This is the one room where a table lamp on the table won’t work. You might not have room for a floor lamp so the next best thing is, as ever, to use the walls.

croft collection ezra prismatic wall light (£55) from john lewis

croft collection ezra prismatic wall light (£55) from john lewis

I have done this in my kitchen as the ceiling isn’t very high and I didn’t have room for the three pendants over the island look that is so popular. Not did I have space for the one pendant over the dining table thing. So I had to go vertical.

I chose an industrial style to tie in with my tin ceiling, but you might prefer a long armed wall light that you can swing over the table and back to the wall when not in use. Or this rather fun banana from Seletti.

house doctor club wall light plugs in so is easy to install (£139)

house doctor club wall light plugs in so is easy to install (£139)

Wall lights can also work well in the sitting room, where a pendant light can be too harsh in the evening and you might not, once again, have space for lots of lamps dotted around the room. Although, in an ideal world, you should be layering all different sorts of lights.

hand wall lights by mucknbrass £70

hand wall lights by mucknbrass £70 – lots of colours available including pink and yellow

Wall lights can be used to highlight a picture and you can now buy versions which you can have painted to match the wall so it really won’t show. They also come in different finishes so you don’t have to have that shiny brass from the gentlemen’s club look.

nevo wall lamp by Arturo Alvarez (£286) at Heals

nevo wall lamp by Arturo Alvarez (£286) at Heals

They can also wash light gently up and down the wall and show off a curtain, a wallpaper or just gently cast a soft pool of light into a room.

tunnel wall light can be painted to match the walls

the tunnel wall light from lighting direct can be painted to match the walls so you don’t even see it (£40)

In the dining room (should you have one) wall lights round the edges and candles on the table can be a really pretty combination. Maybe it’s my age, but candles alone are no longer enough for me. I like to see what’s going on. The plaster light above can be left natural or painted to match the wall which is perfect for a dining room.

huxley 2 arm wall light from john lewis (£70)

huxley 2 arm wall light from john lewis & partners (£70) is good for a dining room or kitchen with brass fittings

Moving upstairs and here too, there is a strong argument for a wall light. In a small bedroom where space is tight, a wall light will leave room on the bedside table for all those books you haven’t read and the glasses of water you haven’t drunk. These days there are plenty that plug into a socket so you only have to mount them on the wall rather than chasing out plaster and repainting – all of which is fine in first fix but annoying if it’s a retrofit.

vintage red anglepoise in the home of Rachel Khoo

vintage red anglepoise in the home of Rachel Khoo, lights available at holloways of ludlow 

And, of course the bathroom, where I don’t have wall lights but wish I did. Either side of the mirror looks good and, as in the kitchen, provides an alternative to ceiling spots. Especially if you are spending time in there in the evening and want more of a spa feel rather than the businesslike brightness of 7pm.

bathroom by @susiesblues_rooms

bathroom by @susiesblues_rooms with the Cheltenham lights from Jim Lawrence (£166)

So there you have in. I have included lots of different options here and while wall lights aren’t for everyone, they are definitely worth considering for the low of ceiling and tight of space. These are just some ideas as there are thousands of styles available and I have tried to give a snapshot from budget to designer, via comedy and industrial, elegant and artisan. You will have to refine the search from here.

One word of advice – check the IP rating if you are considering wall lights for the bathroom. A rating of 44 is advised for 60cm around the basin. If it’s further away then IP20 is probably all right – check with your installer.

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  • Velvet 23rd January 2019 at 9:48 am

    These are lovely and one of the best things about them is that they make such great accents too!

  • Sonia 22nd January 2019 at 11:10 pm

    Some really lovely choices here. I have Jim Lawrence wall lights in my bathroom and thought they had a wide selection of IP rated lights which also looked good. Many came in a variety of finishes as well. Not as easy to find as you might think.

  • Bartek 22nd January 2019 at 4:31 pm

    Great blog-post, thank you Kate. Looks like your audience found us from your post as the House Doctor wall lamps sold out today. More stock coming soon 🙂 Again, thank you!

  • Kath Pinkham Edwards 22nd January 2019 at 3:22 pm

    I got my husband to make me some plug in ones with parts from Lamps and Lights. The cable is black which ‘disappears’ against the Farrow & Ball Railings wall colour. The plugs are then plugged into remote plug sockets so we can turn them off individually with the remote. I do love the House Doctor ones though.

    Oh and I can’t believe I’ve never noticed your gorgeous tin tiled ceiling before. What a numpty I am. I love love love it.

  • Anna 22nd January 2019 at 12:47 pm

    Julia, did you look on ebay?


    Lots well under £50 if they are the type you want?

  • Anna 22nd January 2019 at 12:42 pm

    The anglepoise lamp has been spotted in several celebrity kitchens but why? It’s not the place for them, nor is the table lamp with pleated fabric shade ideal on a work surface. But there they are!

    In our sitting room we like lamps and those cheap as chips wall lights that you can paint the same colour as the walls from Argus, so that there is more light if needed.

    • Sonia 22nd January 2019 at 11:07 pm

      I rather doubt that the IP rating of an Anglepoise makes it suitable for use over a sink.

  • monica 22nd January 2019 at 11:49 am

    Would love a post on picture lighting. The choices seem so limited?

  • Julia 22nd January 2019 at 11:05 am

    We inherited wall lights in the living room, when we moved into our house. Nasty, shiny brass ones. The trouble we’ve had, is finding replacements that aren’t meant to be wired in to the main light circuit. Ours are individually switched, but most lights we’ve seen, don’t have switches. The few we have seen, we either didn’t like, or they were way out of our budget, as we have 3 to replace, so paying over £100 each, is too expensive.
    So, we’ve had to make do, and changed the shades to a more contemporary style.
    They are handy, because we have cats, who often hare around the house, knocking things (including table lamps) over, so we do use them. Just wish we could replace them for something in a style we like.

    • Dee 18th February 2019 at 8:40 pm

      We inherited some gold ones too, couldn’t wait to get rid of them but b4 I did my husband spray painted them with a can from the hardware store, love them now

  • Barbara Jenkins 22nd January 2019 at 9:51 am

    You say there are plenty of wall lights that plug in & so avoid chasing out which is annoying (& more expensive) in a retro fit BUT you completely failed to comment on the trailing wire!!
    Style over practicality..,

    • Jill 22nd January 2019 at 11:39 am

      Dowsing & Reynolds sell cable guides in matt black, various metal finishes and white porcelain. They look attractive in their own right and keep the cable tidy.

  • Vicky Clark 22nd January 2019 at 7:54 am

    Love wall lights (now). Inherited some in our old house and took them all out because they were the nasty dust-catching scallop type. But this time we’ve used the classic Artemide Tetis (in orange) to light the side return dining area in our kitchen. And a Bert Frank Riddle in brass in our loft dressing/bathroom for moody bathing sans overhead spots.

    • Kate Watson-Smyth 22nd January 2019 at 11:29 am

      sounds heavenly. I love Bert Frank lights.

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