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written by  ALYSSA CLOUGH

We have BIG dreams for our current and future spaces, which sometimes leaves us wondering how hard—or easy—it is to achieve our desired look. Now, we know the ins and outs of painting our own wallshanging a gallery wall, and filling in the holes from the nails, but hanging a sconce? Not so much. Dealing with electrical work sounds expensive and intimidating, so we asked Jean Brownhill Lauer, the founder and CEO of Sweeten, an online resource that connects homeowners with design and construction experts for major renovations, for her expert opinion. Keep reading to learn more about the art of installing a sconce.

*Note: These requirements and recommendations are local to New York City, which most likely has more stringent and cautious regulations than in other less populated areas.

First, there are three different scenarios when it comes to installing a sconce.

  1. Wall mounting, which requires no electrical work (those are the ones you have to plug into the wall!).
  2. Switching out a new fixture for an old one, which requires installation and basic electrical work.
  3. Installing a brand new fixture where one has never existed before, which is what we will focus on below.

Spoiler alert: You can’t install a new fixture on your own! (It’s the law in New York City… You’ll need a licensed electrician for that!)


– Jean Brownhill Lauer

SITUATION #1:you’re planning a huge renovation.

Brownhill Lauer says, “The electrician will need to conduct an electrical “rough-in” to lay out basic wiring. During a renovation (when you have access to the space behind walls), the cost for a rough-in is usually included as a flat fee in the overall cost of the project—you might see a per fixture rate in the $200 to $400 range.”

SITUATION #2:you’re not renovating.

Adding a sconce out of the blue will cost you.

Brownhill Lauer adds, “If you aren’t renovating, you’re cutting into your walls and insulation to do the work, so you’ll end up paying for that hole in the wall, plus the wiring work, plus fixture mounting, plus the cost of patching, painting, and clean-up. Many electricians and contractors will charge a flat fee for a minimum two-hour visit, and may need a few extra hours for the full project. And because licensed electricians do fairly specialized work, they often have higher rates than a handyman would, so you’ll either be paying a higher hourly rate for non-electrical services, or you’ll need to hire a second contractor to handle the patching and painting.”


  • Cost of your sconce
  • Cutting into the wall
  • Electrical work
  • Fixture mounting
  • Patching and painting
  • Flat fee for a home visit
  • Hourly fee for work

= more $$$ than we expected!


Adding just one sconce to your home is a serious expense. An easy way to avoid excess spending is to opt for a plug-in fixture, which will add cords to your space, but is definitely the most cost effective of the three options and a good way to test if you want to make a more serious commitment to a sconce or two in the future!