Demystifying Bathroom Lighting

by | Nov 17, 2020 | Bathroom 101, Project Planning, Remodeling Ideas | 0 comments

Bathroom lighting is a crucial design element as well as an important functional essential when choosing your finishes and product selections.  Your bathroom is a busy hub, and your vanity area is where the magic happens…from hair and makeup to taking that last look-see before you take off for your busy day.  Adequate lighting that looks good is important for the overall aesthetic of this crucial room and not all lights are designed to work well in the bathroom.

Your Vanity Helps Determine the Best Bathroom Lighting

The layout and space of your vanity area play an important role in determining what type of lighting is best used.

  1. Placement and size of your mirror: Where your mirror is placed (typically in front of the sink of your vanity) and the actual shape and size of the mirror play a huge role in determining the size and type of lights you should use.  If using a larger mirror, there is naturally less real estate on either side of the mirror for lights so installing a light over the mirror may be your best bet.
  2. Placement of your sink and faucet: Depending on your vanity layout, your sink may be offset so keep in mind again where your mirror will hang as well as its size, as noted above.  The same goes if you have a double vanity. Keep in mind where the sinks will be in relationship to the mirror(s).
  3. Amount of light needed: Depending on the amount of natural light you have in your bathroom and the type of personal care activities that are done (ie makeup, hair, contacts, or tweezing), you may want more light than simple sconces or a ceiling fixture.  The use of small can lights over your sinks may provide the necessary light needed.  This will also determine the number of lights you want to use.
  4. Ceiling Height: If you are blessed with tall ceilings in your space, the use of pendant lights or a chandelier can add a fun design element.  Keep in mind the length of the pendant to ensure it does not hang in front of your tallest guests or family members as they check their hair.
  5. Shape and dimensions of the light: No matter what type of light you plan to use, ensure you know the dimensions and exactly where you want it/them placed. We frequently sketch out the vanity area with accurate dimensions of the cabinetry, sink, faucet, mirror(s), and lights selected to ensure all elements play well together.  These sketches ensure our homeowners know exactly how things will look and that they have made educated choices.
  6. Light Fixture Direction: Many lights can now be mounted in multiple directions, allowing for the lights to shine up, down, or sideways. So keep this in mind when determining the need for any additional lights.

Types of Bathroom Lights

There are multiple options to choose from in selecting bathroom lighting.

  1. Sconces: Wall-mounted light fixtures are one of the most popular choices in bathroom lighting.  They are beautiful, extremely functional, and come in a multitude of styles.  They are typically either chosen in pairs and placed on either side of a mirror, mounted on the mirror, or as a single fixture used above the mirror.  One consideration to keep in mind is using a translucent shade that allows light to flow through the fixture rather than an opaque shade that traps the light inside and blocks it from shining outward. A translucent shade provides better lighting for a bathroom.
  2. Pendants: While pendant lights provide a beautiful aesthetic, they often do not provide adequate lighting for a bathroom other than a powder room, unless additional lights are utilized.  Typically, pendant lights are used to make a dramatic statement in the space and are often used asymmetrically or off-center.  If using over the sink, ensure it is hung high enough so it doesn’t obstruct the mirror.
  3. Chandeliers: Using a statement chandelier in a bathroom can create drama and enhance the visual appeal, however, keep your ceiling height and fixture dimensions in mind when choosing your light to ensure your tallest guests can’t check for dust.
  4. Ceiling Lights: If you think of Grandma’s house and the old standard ceiling light, you will have missed a great opportunity to provide light as well as a cool design trend. Flush-mount or semi-flush lights are an opportunity to draw the eye upward, creating an illusion of a larger space.
  5. Recessed Can Lights: These lights are also known as Down Lights or Pot Lights. Recessed can lights should be an essential element of the overall lighting plan for a bathroom.  They provide excellent light for ensuring all areas of the room receive adequate light and can supplement the beauty of accessory sconces and pendants well.
  6. Mirror Lights: Growing in popularity is the use of either backlit mirrors or mirrors with built-in lighting.

I hope this helps enlighten you as you make decisions regarding your bathroom lighting options and helps ensure that your eyeliner is office-friendly rather than club-ready.  Our designers and selection experts are always ready to help you make these important decisions as part of your remodeling project. And we’d mention that not only are the lights themselves important but the light bulbs you use are also important. For more information on choosing a lightbulb check out our blog Get the 411 on Light Bulbs.


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