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How To Add a Rotary Dimmer to a Wall Sconce

This is how we easily added a rotary on/off dimmer switch to a pair of hard-wired brass wall sconces for our daughter’s ‘big girl’ bedroom.

Brass sconce close-up with a newly installed rotary dimmer | via Yellow Brick Home
sconce

Ever find the perfect light fixture for a space, only to realize that it wont work with your current switch (or lack thereof) configuration? We have great news – you can probably modify it yourself! With a few simple steps, we converted a hard-wired sconce to a switched, dimmable one.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Brass sconce and rotary dimmer ready for installation | via Yellow Brick Home
sconce | rotary dimmer

Step 1 | Tape & Measure

The first step of the process was to determine where we wanted to drill the hole for the dimmer. The clear ruler came in really handy so we could see the center points and determine the location. Keep in mind that the shape of your sconce and shade will dictate the best position for the rotary switch, and be mindful of how accessible the switch will be.

Step 2 | Drill Appropriately Sized Hole

Once we’d marked our drilling location, we started with a small bit (1/16″ or so) to act as a pilot hole. We then worked up in size until the shaft of the dimmer switch fit tightly through the backplate. In our case, the final hole was 3/8″, but each dimmer will be different, so start small and adjust accordingly.

Drilling a hole in our sconce backplate to prepare for rotary dimmer installation | via Yellow Brick Home

Step 3 | Install the Rotary Dimmer

With the hole drilled, we popped the thumb dial off of the dimmer, slipped it through the backplate, then tightened it up from the front. The dimmer is very thin and designed to fit inside the fixture with no problem.

Note: The thumb dial was originally more of a yellow-ish gold that didn’t match the fixture well. We hit it with a couple light coats of spray paint for a much better color match.

Rotary dimmer has been attached to wall sconce, prior to installation | via Yellow Brick Home

Step 4 | Wire up the Dimmer

After everything was connected physically, we assembled our sconce fully and connected the wires according to the instructions.

Wiring the rotary dimmer to our brass wall sconce | via Yellow Brick Home

Step 5 | Install and Test

Once the modified sconce was wired up it was ready for installation and a quick test. Perfect! The rotary dimmer is smooth and precise. After we spray painted the knob, the color match is almost identical!

Brass sconce close-up and turning on the newly installed rotary dimmer | via Yellow Brick Home
Brass sconce close-up with a newly installed rotary dimmer | via Yellow Brick Home
sconce | rotary dimmer

That’s it! This project was truly as simple as it looked. 30 minutes and a couple of tools that we had on hand, and we completely changed the functionality of this pair of fixtures. Have you ever customized a light fixture? We’d love to hear about creative ways you’ve made things work for your needs!

PS: We love sharing how-to posts in a simple, straightforward way! Here’s how to remove a kitchen splash guard, how to paint anything, and how to get a perfect caulk line, among many others!

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  • Brenda2.25.22 - 6:41 AM

    Genius!!  It wouldn’t have occurred to me that you could change a light like that.  I learn so much from you guys! ReplyCancel

  • E Brou2.25.22 - 7:40 AM

    This is a genius idea! Thanks for the tutorial that is easy to follow.ReplyCancel

  • Susan2.25.22 - 8:45 AM

    Didn’t know you could do this! Great idea! Love that its dimmable! Are you concerned the metal shade and exposed bulb might be bonked by playful kids tumbling around in the bunk beds? My brothers and I broke a bulb or 2 as kids, so I ended up going with puck lights by my son’s bed, which aren’t stylish at all. Cue sad music. Just wondering if that was something you had to weigh when choosing your lights?ReplyCancel

    • Scott2.25.22 - 9:23 AM

      Thanks Susan! We definitely considered this and have talked with Lucy about how the lights aren’t a toy to be played with. We feel good about how she’s been handling them, but of course, every kiddo is different!ReplyCancel

    • Jess2.25.22 - 1:09 PM

      If a regular bulb worries you, you can hide the puck lights inside of a sconce fixture! Google “magic light trick” or something like that for directionsReplyCancel

      • Kim2.25.22 - 2:15 PM

        That’s a great tip! We’ve never done this, but I see it all the time on social media.ReplyCancel

  • Julie2.25.22 - 11:27 AM

    I’m a very handy DIY/construction person, and this is blowing my mind. Where was this tutorial seven months ago when all the sconces I liked for our current project didn’t have a switched?!? We ended up going with something just okay because it came with a switch, but now I’m going shopping again and won’t be limited by the choices! Bravo, you guys, I’m always amazed by what you two do!ReplyCancel

  • Lauren3.7.22 - 8:55 AM

    Great tutorial! I love the light bulb. Can you please share the source for the Edison style light bulb that you can dim?ReplyCancel

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