Use these tips from the American Lighting Association to make your bathroom feel calmer and more inviting.
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When we wake in the morning and retire at night, the bathroom is a key stop. To handle multiple activities in one space, it's vital to make lighting flexible and inviting. For grooming and bathing, a single overhead light or a bar over the vanity is simply not an effective solution. With damp-rated fixtures in every style and fixture type—as well as mirrors with integrated LEDs—bathroom lighting has evolved.

"It's not typical birds-on-a-wire bath bars anymore," says Lauren Lovett, product director, Hinkley. "We're seeing unique sconces between and alongside mirrors." And that's just the start. "People are making their bathrooms as close to a spa as their wallets will allow," says Tim Stumm, creative director, Z-Lite Lighting.

To embrace luxury living as well as function, incorporate bathroom lighting that accommodates daily needs while helping you achieve that spa-like atmosphere. These expert tips from the American Lighting Association will show you how to harness bathroom lighting for a calm, stress-free space.

quoizel gold bathroom lights
Credit: Courtesy of Quoizel/American Lighting Association

1. Set a Style

Whether the look is modern farmhouse, elegant minimalist, or a luxurious personalized design, fixtures amp up the ambiance. Choose pendants, sconces, chandeliers, and flush-mount fixtures that echo the bath's attitude. Consider matte finishes that complement and contrast shiny tile, hardware, and trim to create a cohesive design. Metal or textural accents on lighting can also add warmth.

pure edge pipeline vanity lights
Credit: Courtesy of PureEdge Lighting/American Lighting Association

2. Leverage Symmetry

Sconces beside mirrors eliminate harsh shadows. When bar lights are part of the design scheme, they can be centered between a pair of sinks and supplemented with other fixtures. Create layers of light using sconces or bars, overhead fixtures, integrated LED mirrors, toe-kick lights, and recessed lights.

artcraft mirror sunburst scene light
Credit: Courtesy of Artcraft/American Lighting Association

3. Be Bold

Embrace the design impact of lighting by using bold fixtures in the bathroom. Chandeliers, for example, are design jewelry, says interior designer SuzAnn Kletzien of SuzAnn Kletzien Design. "I often choose pieces as I would for my own outfits—marrying the same kind of textures, style, and look with the overall space," she says.

Consider fixtures with organic shapes, modern crystals, or glowing metallics to transform your bath's look. Tim Stumm, Z-Lite Lighting creative director, says the key is to make lighting relate. "Gather pieces that work well together but have thoughtful design," he says.

kichler bathroom harvan light fixture
Credit: Courtesy of Kichler/American Lighting Association

4. Check Safety

Before installing any fixture in a bathroom, review local building codes. Fixtures can't be installed low enough to touch while standing, and additional restrictions may apply to fixtures over tubs. In addition to task lighting next to mirrors, explore flush-mount or semi-flush overhead fixtures for bath spaces with lower ceilings. For bathrooms, always look for damp-or wet-rated fixtures.

5. Think Function

Include dimmers on all fixtures to handle everything from wake-up grooming to midnight visits. Consider fixtures with adjustable arms to direct light where you need it. For overall lighting, gain flexibility with fixtures that mount directly to the ceiling and offer both bright white and night-light features.

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