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When I moved out of my parents’ home and into my first few apartments (over a decade ago now), lighting was the least of my concerns. I was much more focused on building my latest IKEA purchase, scouring Craigslist for mid-century furniture, or filling my space with affordable art and travel souvenirs than I was focused on getting the ambiance just right. I still remember the bare light bulbs and bad overhead lights that became the backdrop for many dinners and get-togethers. At best, I used votive candles from IKEA to set the mood.

Fast-forward a few years: I quickly realized that, save for a good lick of paint, lighting was one of the easiest (and cheapest) ways to make a space feel cozy and warm. Armed with a few table lamps and a floor lamp, I could move from place to place knowing that, no matter how bad the lighting situation was, I could always make it instantly feel like home. But the one illuminating purchase that’s been my saving grace for three apartments (and counting) is the pair of Schoolhouse plug-in sconces that hang over my bed.

Isaac Plug-In Sconce, Schoolhouse ($249)

Sconces (or wall lights) aren’t typically associated with rentals. For the most part, they require a professional electrician. But plug-in sconces only require a few screws and a drill. For me, they’ve been paramount. See, three apartments ago, I downsized to a one-bedroom in my hometown that was smaller (but much newer and nicer) than my previous place. Little did I know that faith would take me to New York City and into my first-ever studio apartment.


Manhattan does this to almost everyone: It forces you to reassess your definition of “spacious.” Oh, you have two closets? That’s huge! and I can’t believe you fit a sofa in here! are frequently muttered phrases around these parts. For reference, my studio is 300 square feet, and my sofa is five-feet long. And while I’ve used a variety of tiny makeshift side tables as nightstands over the years, one thing remains constant: my trusted bedside lights (which never would have fit on said side tables).

Three apartments later, my plug-in sconces are still hanging in there. So don’t let anyone tell you that they’re not “rental-friendly” and pick up your own pair below.

If you love shiny new things…

Donna Plug-In Sconce, Schoolhouse ($399)

This mushroom-shaped sconce in a shiny polished aluminum finish encapsulates the flash of vintage Italian design. Let it make a statement above your bed or anywhere you need a little extra light.

If you like a light with some height…

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Leggero Pole Wall Sconce, CB2 ($149)

Hang this long and lean light next to a sofa or have it sneak up behind your headboard. This extra-long champagne brass sconce has a dramatic flair that’s classic yet a little unusual.


If you’re already on board with the terra-cotta trend…

Carissa Textured Ceramic Sconce, Urban Outfitters ($69)

This moody textured ceramic sconce is part bohemian and part modernist, which means it fits all our favorite trend predictions. Use it anywhere you want to add a warm glow, like in a reading nook or beside your vessel collection.

If you prefer your lighting with wings…

Eos Single Wall Lamp, A+R ($388)

This dramatic feathered swing-arm sconce comes in a choice of white, light brown, or pale gray and extends from an adjustable arc mount so you can direct your mood lighting wherever you please.

If mid-century Italian is your aesthetic…

Arredoluce Style Extendable Wall Lamp, 1stdibs ($3,544)

Opt for the real deal with this Arredoluce-style extendable wall lamp. With its mint green shade and leather-covered arm, it has all the makings of a true vintage treasure that you’ll want to carry with you from home to home.

If you love an industrial classic…

Anglepoise Brass Wall Light, Rejuvenation ($405)

The Anglepoise Original has been a design staple for decades. Originally designed by an automotive engineer in 1935, it can be repositioned with ease and comes in an array of colors and finishes.


If Palm Springs mid-century is your aesthetic…

Nelson Ball Wall Sconce, Design Within Reach ($495)

George Nelson’s lighting is famous for its geometrical bubble lamps. This mid-century staple is the perfect oversize statement to flank a bed on a large blank wall and, luckily for us, it comes in a plug-in option.

If you loved woodworking class in high school…

Alto Wood Arm Sconce, Cedar and Moss ($339)

This adorable hand-crafted wood arm sconce from Cedar and Moss has modern rustic vibes that would lend themselves well to a cabin upstate, but it could look equally at home in a city apartment.

If you love a good story arc…

Contour Wall Lamp, Allied Maker ($3,975)

Settle down with a book under the glow of this contour wall lamp by Allied Maker. A large bent arc effortlessly swivels against the wall so you can position your light for prime reading position.

If you’re still not over Millennial Pink…

Matte Gumball Sconce, Urban Outfitters ($29)

This petite and round gumball-hued sconce is proof that Millennial Pink still isn’t dead. And if you do get tired of the color, the $29 you’ve spend on your bedside light won’t feel like a waste.


If you love statement-making simplicity…

Ginger A Wall Light, A+R ($959)

This gorgeous disc-like wall light from Barcelona designer Joan Gaspar is simple and yet hard to forget. The shade, which resembles a drum cymbal, is fashioned from wood, paper, and resins. Use it in a reading nook or over a table.

If you need to burn the midnight oil…

Link Wall Lamp, A+R ($400)

Sconces are typically used to flank a bed or a fireplace, but this one is particularly well suited to a workspace. No need to sacrifice precious desk space with this Pablo LED light, which will have you working until the wee hours of the morning if you must.

If you prefer curves over angles…

Warren Wall Lamp, 1stdibs ($409)

This gorgeous Warren wall lamp by Soren Rose Studio is all curves; it was inspired by the glamour of New York City in the late 1930s but simplified for today’s taste. Bring a dash of understated glam into your own space with this minimal beauty.

See more cool lighting: Affordable Lighting That Still Looks Chic Amazon Has Secretly Been Selling the Chicest Lights Calling It: Bedside Lights Are the New Night-Lights