If you look at any of your favorite spaces (either in person or online), you will likely notice that most rooms employ a combination of lighting sources to not only illuminate the room but to also make it look super stylish. Sconces, lamps, and other light fixtures are in fact quintessential to a room’s design, adding light, texture, and sculptural details that are hard to achieve through other means. I’d even go as far as saying statement lighting is one of the most important finishing touches in any room and can elevate its whole design instantly. The bummer thing about good light fixtures though is that so many require hardwiring. It can be a little frustrating to miss out on all the beautiful lighting options just because you’re a renter or you simply don’t want to hire an electrician to hang a single sconce. However, when I was recently sourcing plug-in light fixtures for Henry’s bedroom makeover, I was pleasantly surprised at how many (really good!) options now exist. I thought it would be fun to share my top plug-in light fixtures in case you too wanted to add some statement lighting without the commitment or the electrician!
Plug-In Meets Affordability
I started down this whole rabbit hole of plug-in light fixtures while sourcing a basic reading light for Henry’s bedroom. Beyond finding one that was super stylish and matched the decor for his room, my other main criteria was that it not be too expensive. I mean…have you seen how expensive light fixtures can get?
In a forever home, I may not stress as much about spending good money on just the right light fixture since it will be an investment we will enjoy for years. But as a renter, there is no guarantee we will be able to use a light from one house to the next. Therefor, any light fixture that I deem a good candidate for renters must not only be plug-in but also be reasonably priced.
Below, I’ve broken down a bunch of plug-in light fixtures into two categories: sconces (for mounting to a wall) and overhead (for mounting on a ceiling). Additionally, most of the light fixtures I have here are in the $30-$100 range. You’ll love these awesome options for elevating the design in any temporary or short-term space!
Sconces are small-ish lights that typically attach directly to the wall to provide task or accent lighting. They are often seen over bookcases, alongside bathroom mirrors, and next to or above beds. While they don’t tend to produce a ton of light, they are great for illuminating a work space, reading corner, or other nook; and they are an ideal way to add a light source when floor or table space are unavailable.
Brass Eyeball Sconce in my North Carolina Craft Room.
Below are a bunch of affordable plug-in sconces in a variety of sizes and styles. While some can be hardwired if preferred, all of them come with a plug-in option, meaning that installation only requires attaching it to the wall (usually with included hardware) and plugging it in!
One of the main advantages to hardwiring light fixtures is that all the wires are on the inside of the wall, certainly giving a cleaner and more professional appearance. Unfortunately, cords are just a reality you can’t avoid with plug-in fixtures, but there are a few options for dealing with them.
- You could just leave the cord be as I did in Henry’s room. Focus on your pretty light and ignore the cord.
- Another option is to make the cord decorative by either hanging it in an intentional way or using a pretty cord.
- Finally, consider using cord covers to conceal the cord (as much as possible) and make the whole arrangement tidier. There are now lots of options for covering cords including paintable white casing (that you can paint to match your wall) or metal casings (which match your light fixture). When done well, these cord covers can look really classy (see this example!).
Just because you’re a renter, hanging your own pendant lights is NOT out of the question! Just like a wall sconce, you mainly need to somehow attach it to the…ceiling. And just like sconces, you simply need to be able to plug it in in order to turn it on.
You may be surprised to learn how many rentals don’t have sufficient overhead lighting. It’s kind of bizarre to me, but it’s pretty common (at least three of our rentals had no overhead lights in the main family spaces). In our North Carolina playroom, we had access to the attic. We found some inexpensive pendants on clearance at Lowes (I believe they were $12 each) and hung them in an arrangement of three above the play space. We drilled small holes through the ceiling into the attic then ran the cords to the corner where they came back down and plugged into the wall. Greg has a lot of experience with lighting, so we were confident in the safety of our arrangement.
Adding a pendant or group of pendants is a great way to add additional overhead lighting without having to rely on floor lamps. By using cup hooks in the ceiling with cord coverings or chains, you can easily hang the pendant wherever you want it and still make the cord less noticeable and more decorative. All the pendants below would work great over side tables, kitchen islands, in a foyer, over a dining room table, or even clustered together to make a statement.
Even if you can’t find a plug-in overhead fixture that’s just right for your space, there’s another alternative to consider. A clean basic drum shade on a plug-in cord is a simple and classic solution. But now, you can also use a plug-in socket with any shade you can find for a custom look! Plug-in pendant kits are now available in lots of places including IKEA and Amazon.
There’s one more tip about overhead lighting I wanted to mention before signing off! We once had a neighbor who always installed the same light over their dining room table. No matter how many times they moved, their dining table always had the same pretty fixture overhead and that helped make it feel like home to them.
If your rental has an overhead light already installed…like over a dining area or in the foyer…don’t hesitate to swap it out for something you like more. Sure…you might have to hire an electrician to actually do the swap if lighting isn’t within your skill set. But as long as you have a place to store the original light fixture until you move out, adding your own light to an already-wired spot can go a long way in making a space feel more like your own. In fact, we did just did this in our dining room-turned-office because the original light fixture was way too big (and too ugly!) for our tastes!
I always find that a special or unique light fixture has a transformative effect on a space, and I am so excited there are now lots of great plug-in options to try! Seeing the fixture in Henry’s room reminded me, yet again, not to overlook this detail, and I am excited to start incorporating more unique lighting into my spaces. Whether you are a renter or not, I hope this post gets you thinking about new (temporary!) ways to add more light to your home!