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When it comes to dining room lighting ideas, it feels like pendants and chandeliers get all the credit. But we're partial to dramatically lighting your family's traditional pot roast or your signature chocolate torte another way — with wall sconces. What they lack in wide-cast illumination, they more than make up for in elegance and retro-chic appeal. (Just think of a classic midcentury restaurant with rows of tufted banquettes lit by matching sconces, or the iconic '70s-kitsch diner.)
If you're looking to level-up your dining room's design, allow us to put our bid in for these too-often-overlooked lights. Whether you pick a pair to flank your artwork, or scatter them about in an eclectic arrangement, you're certain to brighten up your dining space and elicit compliments galore from bright-eyed guests. Here are some of our favorite wall sconces to make sure your next dinner party is lit (correctly):
1. Go for the gold
Not a fan of making it all match? Balance out a by-the-book dining set by infusing a little more variety into your lighting choices. These midcentury-mod globe sconces are the perfect foil to a set of straight-laced Scandi-style chairs.
Get the Look: Rejuvenation Cedar & Moss Globe Sconce, $279
2. Add some whimsy
Believe it or not, the iconic FLOS 265 is technically a sconce, too. We've seen it poised playfully over all types of dining tables, and it never fails to elicit a little laugh. Just think of it as the cool older cousin of the Pixar lamp.
Get the Look: FLOS 265 Wall & Ceiling Sconce, $1495
3. Keep it simple
Sometimes less truly is more. A matte black metal sconce that puts an exposed bulb front and center is a versatile pick for any dining room lighting concept — and while it's ideal for small spaces, we'd also love to see a lineup of several repeating along a larger wall to be more of a focal point.
Get the Look: CB2 Plate Matte Black Wall Sconce, $70
4. Be flexible
They call it task lighting for a reason, and adjustable heads aren't just for desk lamps. If you're short on space or your dining area does double-duty as a workstation (and let's be honest — whose doesn't?), an articulated head that can aim the light right where you want it is a smart move.
Get the Look: Havenside Home Merida Adjustable Sconce, $83
5. Keep it classy
Blueprint's hourglass-figure sconces are aptly named "Tuxedo," and with the amount of sophistication they impart on a space, it's easy to see why. Breathe a bit of art deco appeal into your next dinner party with a set (or several) of these.
Get the Look: Blueprint Lighting Tuxedo Sconces, $825
6. Think outside the bulb
Your eyes aren't deceiving you — these sconces are actually candles, so there's no electricity involved. However, they were custom-made for Dabito from Old Brand New by none other than lighting legends Sazerac Stitches. If custom isn't in the dining room lighting idea budget, not to worry: They offer a similar fixture that you can add to your cart today.
Get the Look: Sazerac Stitches Milan Sconce, $215
7. Make it matchy-matchy
Coordinating your overhead dining room lighting idea with your wall sconces might be easier than you think — a simple Etsy search led designer Arlyn Hernandez to these irresistible multi-bulb wall sconces that tie into the retro marquee-inspired look of this Schoolhouse Electric chandelier. The result? TONS of drama against the on-trend peacock hue of her eclectic dining room.
Get the Look: IlluminateVintage Matte Black Sconce, $124
Emily Bihl is a freelance writer and sometimes-songwriter who can invariably be found rearranging furniture in a domicile somewhere along the Mississippi River. She lives with her black labrador Selkie and a small army of homemade ceramics, and has not willingly closed a browser tab since 2011.