An Architect’s House | Ye Olde Sconces

August 26, 2010 — 27 Comments

Wall Sconces…

Forsooth I speaketh of my hatred for ye …

In the deepeth-est part of mine bowels, I wisheth that Thy would die of death until dead


Ye Olde Sconce in question

One look at the wall sconces in the master bedroom and you must acknowledge that my hate for these fixtures is well justified. When I walk into my bedroom I can’t help but think that lurking around the corner is the ghost of the Captain who ran the pirate crew of the ship where these fixtures were clearly salvaged. He feels like his booty was stolen and he wants his stateroom lights back. Once I explain to the good Captain that the light no longer comes from whale blubber candles, he doesn’t want them back and decides he can finally rest in peace in Davy Jones locker where the lighting is better. Just before he apparates out of the room, he tells me that he thinks they suck too … and that they are cursed and the light will create shadows under my eyes and make me look even older than I really am … BWUHahaahaahaaRrrrr!!

If you’re really observant, you’ll notice that little dome that hangs down over the modern-day whale blubber candle is literally hanging down from a tiny chain and hits the top of the bulb, throwing the cap askew. Great – of course it does. See, if it were level it wouldn’t be awesome anymore. And how about that finish? – oil rubbed bronze Mmmmmm…. Pretty sure there isn’t a genie in this lamp but if there was, I’m not going to let it out because I’m positive that it would be pissed about being trapped in that fixture. As soon as it came out it would vaporize me and turn me into a double rainbow all the way across the sky.


That's lighthouse quality light

Do you like it better when the light is actually tuned on? No? I know what you’re thinking (I don’t) – that I’ve captured a rare Omega particle that I have suspended in a cylinder made from Quantonium and I have discovered a way to harvest its awesome galaxy creating power into a soul extinguishing 40 watts of light. Behold!! (None of that is true.)

So the table has been set – I don’t like this fixture (a term I use very loosely) and I am in the market to replace it. Only I don’t like picking out light fixtures – its unpleasant for me. I have no problems telling you what I like and don’t like but to actually commit and spend my money on them? *shudder* I can explain why I don’t like picking light fixtures out, I just don’t want to – other than to say it’s because there are 4,387,658,391 possible selections out there and in order to find them requires flipping through  4,387,658,391 vendor catalogs. Yes … it’s the same number.


Tolomeo Wall Shade Sconce

I like this fixture – the Tolomeo Wall Shade Sconce – but can’t get myself to commit. Despite being iconic and awesome, it’s $400+ per fixture (ahem … to any and all Tolomeo lighting representatives reading this post – I need 4 of them, please and thank you *wink*). If you are wondering how I have this fixture in my possession and hanging on my wall when you can infer from the previous sentence that I haven’t bought it – just don’t worry about that – I have my ways. It isn’t wired up and if a butterfly landed on it, it would probably fall off the wall and then I would actually own it.

(note to amateurs: post-it notes should never be used to hang wall sconces … but I am a professional and know what I am doing)



Another issue I have is that the sconces are located higher on the wall than I would have set them if this was a new project. But since that is genuine 3/4″ masonry stucco on the interior wall, I can’t move it without creating a whole new level of pain for myself. Damm you stucco on the inside of my house! I have plans on ripping the stucco out at some point, adding some additional windows and coming back with sheet rock, clean, sweet freshly painted sheet rock … I wonder if my wife would let me do this over the weekend? (no, not this weekend honey… some future weekend) Just thinking about it makes me happy! Oooh, cutting the sheet-rock around all those beams at the ceiling has brought me back down.

Sometimes being an architect completely sucks. Why did I have to be cursed with such awesome taste and fabulous style? WHY!!

Yes – that is green carpet … You shut it!


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  • Craigy Baby

    I would install the new light fittings, chase the wires into the wall, fill and skim coat with plaster. Loving the blog all the way from sunny Scotland

    • Anonymous

      If I thought I had any chance of actually matching the plaster that’s been in place for the last 45 years I’d give that serious consideration.

      I love Scotland – glad I have a fan there. I spent some time in Scotland back in 1990. It was mostly in the major cities (Glasgow, Edinburgh a few points in-between). Great people those Scots…

  • Hmmm…so I see you still have those same sconces and that rep hasn’t come to visit you. Wait…you reposted this because Paul posted his lighting blog, right? 🙂

    I’d honestly opt for stand alone bedside tables, rip the sconces off and hang a picture of the hole 🙂 #crafty

    • Anonymous

      No, I actually had someone ask for this link and thought, it’s been awhile, some people haven’t read about my pirate lamps. I would prefer to have clearer nightstand tables so I need to wait until I can lower the wall sconces and then get rid of the space hogging table lamps.


  • Richard

    Sad part is I know interior designers out here on Vancouver Island that would pay big bucks for those pirate lights Bob. If it were me, I’d be posting them on EBay. LOL

    • Anonymous

      eBay shoppers might not appreciate the funk-tastic awesomeness of these fixtures properly so feel free to alert any and all Vancouver Island Interior Designers … I’ll even trade them for the Tolomeo sconces I would rather have – straight up (because I’m nice that way).

      Thanks for commenting Richard, I appreciate it.

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  • I’ve got Tolomeo min as wall sconces. They are very tidy.

  • Morgansatterfield

    That is one of my biggest pet peeves. I was at this thrift store in Palm Springs and they had this terrible reproduction of a Saarinen tulip table with a veneer top that was seriously thrashed, I mean like 1/3 of it was cracked off. They were asking $1500. $1500!!! And it was falling apart. Totally unconscionable.

  • Morgansatterfield

    good god that thing was hideous. It’s like some sort of little house on the prairie nightmare.

    The green carpet is so sad, but the ceiling and windows are so great. It’s like a stew of strange decisions. You will make it all lovely – it just takes time.

    • Anonymous

      was hideous? It’s still on my wall!! I put the other one up temporarily with post-it notes (no I didn’t ……yes I did).

      You would be happy to know that I went thrifting with one of the partners this morning but everybody knew what they had and what it was worth. I’m sorry, but dropping $50 bucks off a $400 table new for the torn-up scratched and old $350 version isn’t thrifty.

  • Heh heh, you asked for the builders perspective & one who has had to live with them in the past… First, yes your’s leaves a lot to be desired

    Now onto my gripe sheet / Rant – Who is responsible for putting those in – come on was it the designer or the architect? Why must my bed always be in one spot, why must it be a specific size to have everything balanced, why do they have to be at the hieght where it catches your head in a hallway or arm in the bedroom?

    As for your stucco issue – good luck, I have removed & patched enough of that, it is best to leave it till you drywall it — have you thought about a sconce like that but where the light hangs further down on a chain to get it at a more practical height?

    Now about that green carpet…

  • Anonymous

    it is one of the best ever – I’m not really going out on a limb by selecting them. I really like them and I considered the articulated arms but the sizes did’t quite seem right. Which one do you like? Until I move the j-boxes down, any sconce is going to be a little off (if you know what I mean)

  • Hey Bob! Yes, I completely agree, your existing sconces totally totally suck. I also agree that were it easy and inexpensive to get rid of the rough stucco in your bedroom and go with smooth drywall, I would do it, and then you could move the j-boxes down to a proper height and use new fixtures (and not be hamstrung by the wall texture anymore). If you know of a talented plasterer that could possibly patch over the j-boxes, I might opt to can the wall sconces all together and just use a pair of bedside lamps. But for sure, remove the wretched fixtures as soon as possible. If for no other reason than to spur you to action (of course, I have seen people live with wires hanging out of their walls for years, but somehow I can’t see you doing that.).

  • PS I have the articulated lamps in my bedroom and use them in clients bedrooms on a regular basis, they’re perfect if you like to read in bed. Or as in your case have higher than desired electrical boxes.

  • I have Tolomeos all around the house. One of the best designs ever!

  • Anonymous

    Hmmm. In some other post you said you had the architect of your house over one time… Did he simply blame the client on that fixture?

  • For some reason I thought that the drawing in your blog header was your house. So when I first saw the sconces, I was confused. Clearly those sconces could not exist in the building at the top of this page. Not in a kind and benevolent Universe. Then came the photo of the bedroom in which the ceiling is visible. At that point, confusion was replaced by the realization that at some point I made an incorrect assumption.

  • Anonymous

    I love that you took a position! Bring on the positions! No worries …

    The inside of my house is almost entirely stucco of cedar board on board – very little drywall. That room is so small that if I put in a larger window and relocated the existing sconce j-boxes down to a proper bedside table height, it would be cost prohibitive to patch and replace the stucco. Don’t worry, you wouldn’t miss it because it all over the place.

    Oh yeah, I could also add some insulation to the walls so my house would be more energy efficient. Natural light and energy efficiency… these aren’t bad things. It’s all about priorities, not right and wrong or good and bad, right?

    There are several other posts on my house where you can see some of the stucco and wood interior walls. Just click the tab at the top of the page labeled “My House”.


  • Anonymous


    I don’t have any wood floors – you can catch up by reading this

    Those sconces are an anomaly to the rest of the house, that and the fact that we have to have lamps sitting right underneath the wall sconces to get enough light should count for something. Since my electrical wiring is 45 years old and that sconce is decidedly from the late 19th century, I am not going to exceed the recommended wattage. Yikes!

  • Anonymous

    >>Would you rather live in a dark cave with it’s “masonry” walls or a tree house full of light?

    depends mightily on where i would be living [a tree house in russia isn’t very practical] given that i have no idea where you live [the only info i know about you is what i read in your article] – i probably shouldn’t have commented they way i did. my point was only that architects often are too eager and ready to demo existing beauty to ‘restore’ or ‘renovate’ a space to a state in which things are easier [like having additional jboxes/outlets] while almost entirely abandoning all the character the space originally had. to me, part of the beauty and charm of plaster/stucco is the character [cracks and imperfections] that you cannot recreate with gypsum board. i would rather deal with less jboxes/outlets. [its cheaper too :]

    again – just my two cents.

  • While I like the new $300 lamp, the creative, crafty side of me says that there has to be a way to remove the upper section of the lamp, install a bigger bulb and nicer glass shade. The current sconce is pretty fun indeed though…even more so when lit.

    I personally like the stucco, but woah to the person that would ever have to patch/repair it. As far as the green carpet, why wouldn’t you reveal those awesome wood floors beneath?

  • Anonymous

    I am all for voting but there are so many variables that you are unaware of – it’s not whether I like drywall over masonry stucco. The main issue is that I can’t match + patch the stucco which means I can’t move a plug or jbox, I can’t fix the many (and clearly hidden from view with the photo angle I have used here) cracks and I desperately need more light in these rooms. Go back through the other posts on my house and you will see a floor plan that will indicate the shockingly few windows that I do have.

    Would you rather live in a dark cave with it’s “masonry” walls or a tree house full of light?

    I do however appreciate you chiming in – thanks

  • Anonymous

    your an architect and would rather have sheet rock on your walls than “genuine 3/4″ masonry stucco”… sorry but that room wouldn’t look near as sweet with flat paint on a flat wall… [my two cents :]… i know, i know… you specialize in ‘modern’ design… but that doesn’t mean you need to recklessly abandon the beauty [and durability] or masonry stucco…

    lets vote via the comment section –

    all those in favor of drywall…
    all those in favor or “genuine 3/4″ masonry stucco”… [insert my vote here]