Bathroom Lighting Ideas

Choose the right bathroom lighting to help you and your bathroom look great.

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Add Elegance with a Chandelier

    A flea market chandelier painted white and fitted with candle-flame bulbs brings a touch of elegance to a vintage-style bath. Wrap the chain with tulle netting for an unexpected flourish, but be careful not to let the fabric touch the bulbs.

    Overhead bathroom lighting like this provides general or ambient light. Make sure the bottom of the fixture is at least 7 feet above the floor to leave enough head room.

Use Halogens for Accents or Tasks

    Taut cables suspend three halogen lights above this pedestal sink. The lights are movable and can be aimed to throw light exactly where it's needed.

    Quartz halogen lights offer bright white light that's good for task or accent lighting. These bulbs do put off more heat than incandescent or fluorescent bulbs, though. They also require careful handling, because the oils on your skin can shorten the life of the bulb. Choose a fixture specifically designed for halogen bulbs.

Double the Impact of Bathroom Sconces

    Mounting bathroom sconces directly on the wall mirror doubles their impact and offers shadow-free task lighting for grooming.

    If you're building new or remodeling, run wiring for bathroom sconces during the rough-in stage, then cover it with drywall. After hanging the mirror, you can determine the exact location of the fixtures. Cut holes for the boxes, pull out the wiring, and install the boxes and fixtures.

Illuminate with Ceiling-Mounted Fixtures

    Two ceiling-mounted fixtures above the twin basins emit soft directional lighting. The fixtures are mounted close to the mirror to highlight the face of a person standing in front of the counter.

    A similar light fixture (but made for a wet location) lights the shower stall, creating a unified lighting design for the bath.

A Simple Pendant for Vintage Style

    A frosted white pendant hangs discreetly over this island vanity. Its simple shape adds a contemporary accent to the vintage-inspired style of the room.

    If the fixture normally takes incandescent bulbs, replace the bulb with a compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) for greater energy efficiency and longer life. Remember that when you flip the light switch, some CFLs require about a minute to reach full brightness.

Focused Light for Tasks

    Tucked into a dormer with halogen lighting above, this vanity dispenses with the usual mirrored wall in favor of a small, wall-mounted, light-ringed mirror for shaving or putting on makeup.

Mix Task and Accent Lighting

    Flute-shape frosted sconces flank the mirror to illuminate the sink for grooming. An even column of light on each side of the mirror is ideal because it eliminates shadows under your eyes or chin.

    In the wall niche, a halogen spotlight focuses attention on a collection of bottles. The spotlight and sconces are set on separate dimmer switches to allow flexibility in light control.

Petite Sconces for a Traditional Look

    Although they're small, these bathroom sconces, placed at about eye level, offer adequate lighting because other light sources in the room only provide general illumination. The fixtures are capped with matching clip-on shades that soften the glare.

Combine Recessed and Ceiling Lights

    A recessed downlight installed close to the mirror is an unobtrusive source of task lighting. A ceiling-mounted fixture provides additional ambient light; its effects are doubled by the wall mirror behind the vanity.

Expand Space with Light and Mirrors

    Tall, slender light tubes with a brushed-aluminum finish are mounted on mirrored walls to create a dazzling illusion of multiple spaces and multiple columns of light.

Reflect Style with a Chandelier

    While bathroom lighting may not be the focal point of a room, it can go a long way toward supporting the style statement you're making with cabinetry and flooring and wall treatments. Here, an Egyptian chandelier adds ambience to a bathroom whose design reflects Moroccan and Middle Eastern-themed accessories and influences.

Recessed Lights for Ambient Lighting

    Recessed lights installed in the deep soffit over the double vanity illuminate the countertops and mirrors. Additional lights in the lofty ceiling over the bathtub area provide general lighting.

    For the best ambient lighting, recessed downlights should be spaced close enough together for their light patterns to overlap.

Supplement Natural Light

    A glass wall and skylight fill this bathroom with natural light by day. At night, cage-style ceiling lights, evenly spaced across the room, provide general bathroom lighting. Over the sink, a 1950s-inspired frosted white fixture emits focused light for putting on makeup or shaving.

Plan for Shadowless Vanity Lighting

    Your bathroom mirror serves as a primary grooming center. To make sure the lighting is even and shadow-free, plan for cross-lighting from the sides and above.

    A bowl-style chandelier and sconces mounted on the mirror accomplish this layered approach here. Be sure to select bulbs designed for vanity illumination. They generate light in the daylight spectrum. Avoid bulbs that are too white or too yellow--they won't reflect how you look outside the bathroom.

Spotlight the Vanity

    Wall-mount fixtures installed above the mirror are positioned so their light patterns overlap on the bottom half.

Create Mood with Decorative Pendants

    Ornamental glass pendants above the soaking tub are primarily decorative in this bathroom. Connect them to a dimmer switch to create a relaxing mood.

Small-Bath Solution

    In a small bath that has only one wall available for the vanity and a window, glass blocks a clever solution. Textured blocks let in natural light and function as a wide frame for the vanity mirror.

    Lighting the vanity for grooming tasks requires clever compromise too: a pendant light on one side hangs at the same level as a two-light bathroom sconce on the other to provide even illumination at the mirror.

Change the Shades

    Give wall sconces a new look with fabric-covered clip-on shades. These vintage porcelain sconces make a cottage-style statement that's enhanced by toile wallpaper and matching toile fabric shades.

Light the Vanity with a Bath Bar

    Vanity lighting is the most important lighting in the bathroom because it affects how well you can see yourself. Bathroom sconces on each side of the mirror are ideal, but where there isn't room for sconces, a multilight fixture over the mirror is the next best solution.

    Choose a bathroom light fixture that's at least as wide as the mirror. The light should spread evenly over a 24-inch-wide area to illuminate your face without casting shadows under your eyes or chin.

Globes for Glamorous Lighting

    Globe lights evenly spaced along each side of the mirror guarantee shadow-free lighting for grooming tasks. This Hollywood-style arrangement requires careful planning to install wiring and electrical boxes before the mirror is attached to the wall.

    If you're remodeling your bathroom, consult an interior designer with expertise in bathroom lighting to help you develop a lighting plan that's both functional and aesthetically pleasing.

Rewire Vintage Fixtures for Cottage Style

    Antique wall sconces with the original milk-white glass shades cast light on the medicine cabinet and salvaged pedestal sink in this cottage bathroom. Although reproduction light fixtures are readily available, you may be able to find the real thing for less at flea markets or salvage shops and have the fixtures rewired.

Add Luxury with Silk Lampshades

    Silk chandeliers and pendants suit the Old World ambience of this remodeled bath. Suspended from the center of a barrel-vault ceiling, a short pendant provides general light. Pendants with matching shades in a more slender profile hang in front of the mirror, doubling their decorative impact and light output.

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