Shaded Sconces Are The Ultimate Southern Design Move

They might be trendy but we’ve been aboard this bandwagon for decades.

2018 Idea House in Austin, Texas Girl's Vanity Bathroom
Photo: Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

There are certain, unmistakable hallmarks of a Southern home. China hanging on the walls , the smell of food wafting from the kitchen, plentiful spots to sit and stay a while. There might be one that you have never noticed, or at least taken mental inventory of, though. Hidden in bedrooms, tucked away in a cozy study, or even seamlessly blending into a breakfast nook is a true Southern trademark that instantly warms up a space: the shaded sconce.

You might be thinking, well, don’t most sconces have shades? We’re talking specifically about fabric shades—no brass, pewter, or glass options here. Likely in a hand-picked pattern that plays off the wallpaper just beyond. Whether it’s a swing-arm or a neat little brass single sconce, the power of the perfect shade cannot be underestimated. It filters the light to create ambiance by the armload, but it also adds interest and dimension, which is something Southern home decorators (mind you, we’re not even talking about the pros) have perfected to a T.

2019 Idea House Blue Powder Room
Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Liz Strong

Sconces with pleated shades are popping up everywhere right now as the grandmillenial aesthetic and all its offshoots continue to take hold. It delivers a nostalgic, vintage feel and can add a hit of color and personality like no other. To make it feel intrinsically Southern though, using the shaded sconce in front of a backdrop of patterned wallpaper is expert-level stuff. If you’re still holding strong to your minimalistic leanings but want to start adding in a more layered look, a flat shade in a color that complements your scheme is a great way to test the waters.

From scalloped edges to patterned pintucks, the personality that one can bring to a space with a simple shade is limitless. Custom options will cost you, but a true Southerner knows all the best places to find a dupe for that must-have designer option. Oh, and she probably has a draper and/or upholstery seamstress she regularly calls on for such things—no shipping or big-chain stores required.

2019 Idea House Queen Guest Bedroom
Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Liz Strong

What is it about a shaded sconce that feels so Southern? It’s very similar to the china wall décor phenomenon. There’s a timelessness about it that makes you feel like this is a space that can (and has) stood the test of time. While patterned, pintucked shades are certainly making a resurgence, for some of us, they never left the spotlight. They’ve expertly hung around in our décor since before we even began to whet our design feet. It’s a passed-down aesthetic for many of us and that makes it all the more inviting.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles