Achieving Beautiful Bathroom Lighting


Achieving Beautiful Bathroom Lighting

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By Clarissa Allison | January 8th, 2016

Lighting in the bathroom is key, it’s importance should not be underestimated. The type of lighting, where it will be placed, along with the type and finish of the fixtures are all important choices to weigh. After all, the bathroom is often the smallest and most utilitarian room in the home, making functionality and aesthetics foremost considerations. Understanding the basic concepts of bathroom lighting will help you to design a beautiful, well-lit space. Read on to discover points on how to minimize shadow and glare, while perfectly brightening up your bathroom!

Polished Chrome Finish - ELK Lighting Optix 1- Light Bathroom Light

Polished Chrome Finish – ELK Lighting Optix 1- Light Bathroom Light

Use a bright, warm light from a combination of sources to enhance the beauty of everything in the room, including you. Choose accessory lighting that goes with the style of the room – do you want a contemporary look or a vintage art deco theme? Does frosted glass appeal to you or are you partial to minimalist fixtures with simple pendants?

Above the mirror
If you have the space, using diffusers (open or closed) centered above the mirror will minimize shadows on your face. Be mindful of clear glass fixtures with an exposed bulb – they can produce glare. Translucent white diffusers work best to avoid this issue.

General ceiling lights in the bathroom will suffice for ambient light, but aren’t ideal for beauty and grooming. Lighting from above can create shadows, splotches and lines across your face while shaving, putting on makeup, flossing, etc. A bath bar, vanity light or pair of sconces placed on each side of the mirror will provide the best lighting for detailed tasks.

Next to the mirror
Fixtures like wall sconces provide the best lighting while minimizing unattractive shadows. Place the sconces on both sides of the mirror, right within your eyeline. Being versatile, sconces are a great solution for both task and accent lighting. They are perfect for grooming or applying makeup; and with the multitude of sconces available you won’t have to sacrifice style for function!

Placement Tip: For vanity lighting on the sides of a mirror, mount the fixtures at least 28 inches apart and around 60 inches off of the floor to ensure the brightest parts of the lights are in line with your face. For a light above the mirror, mount it about 78 inches off of the floor.

If you have a large mirror that can’t accommodate a light on each side, a horizontal vanity light above the mirror is your best bet. Look for a vanity light that includes a shade for each bulb to minimize unflattering shadows.

Polished Chrome Finish - ELK Lighting Willow Bend 1- Light Bathroom Light

Polished Chrome Finish – ELK Lighting Willow Bend 1- Light Bathroom Light

On the mirror
When placing a light directly onto a mirror, be sure the it is finished nicely all the way around, since the back of the fixture will reflect back to the onlooker. This option is perfect when you want a clean and sleek look in your bathroom by using an un-fussy and slender fixture/ and blends easily with the other finishes in the bathroom.

This lighting option will convey a clean, unobtrusive look. Recessed lights meld with the existing architecture and flawlessly blend into a room. When using recessed lighting, it’s best to place two or more closer to the mirror to get the most light coverage where you need it and avoid as much shadow as possible. Choose recessed downlights designed for use in wet areas. Shielded fixtures will protect reclining bathers’eyes from glare.Shower and tub lighting should be bright enough for cleaning, shaving and reading product labels.  An adjustable accent light aiming from outside the tub is dramatic and glare-free.

Matte Nickel Finish - Eglo Lighting Prato Modern 1- Light Wall/Ceiling Light

Matte Nickel Finish – Eglo Lighting Prato Modern 1- Light Wall/Ceiling Light

Decorative lights enhance light coverage, working with other task lights, while adding to the scene and mood of the bathroom. A gorgeous chandelier over a free standing tub, for example, is an instant statement of elite glamour. Coordinate the materials and finishes of your decorative lighting with the other hardware in the room, such as faucets, handles, bath bars and knobs. If using coloured glass, try to move this away from the mirror as you can discolor the light where you need it most. In the center of the ceiling, a decorative fixture that blends with the rest of your theme, provides a stately touch while providing adequate light for safety, cleaning and moving about. It also balances the brightness of other bathroom lights. Ceiling mount fixtures, small chandeliers and decorative vent fans with integrated lighting are a few of the options for modern bathrooms.

Mimic DayLight

There’s nothing quite like natural light. Our face, hair, makeup and clothes is best represented in the daylight, so this is the quality of light you’ll want to imitate in the bathroom. Bathroom lighting fixtures with white shades work best.

Second, use light bulbs that render colors appropriately for the room. Determining that depends on the bulb type:

  • Compact Fluorescent bulbs: Contrary to popular belief, CFL bulbs can be a good choice for bathrooms—as long as their CRI (Color Rendering Index) is 90 or above. This indicates that they are close to displaying colors the way that daylight does. The ideal color temperature for CFLs is also between 2700K and 3000K.
  • LEDs: Light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs have become viable options for bathroom lighting. Like the others, a color temperature of 2700K to 3000K is recommended. Pay close attention to the brightness for LEDs, indicated in lumens.

The Benefit of Dimmers

Bathrooms tend to move from bright light for morning rituals to a soft mood light when soaking in the tub or a late night visit after too much water. Luckily, there are several creative ways to easily move from one atmosphere to another.

Install a light dimmer to control the intensity of your  lights. These days, there are dimmers available for incandescent, fluorescent and LED lighting (we love the contemporary dimming controls from Lutron).

We’d love to see pictures of your recent bathroom renovation project. Visit our site to browse our selection of bathroom lighting products from the best manufacturer’s in the business, and read about our lowest price guarantee. Send comments, pictures and questions to us at You can also call us Monday – Friday 8am-5pm Arizona Time at 1-877-385-2104. The Louie Lighting team wishes you and yours a happy and healthy weekend.



Achieving Beautiful Bathroom Lighting


  1. says

    This is some really good information about good bathroom lighting. I have been considering doing a bathroom renovation. I liked that you pointed out that it could be fun to put LED lights on your mirror. That does seem like it would help me put my make up on more evenly better.

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