Bathroom Lighting

Basics of Bathroom Lighting Design

Lighting is important throughout the home, but one of the most important spaces to light properly is the bathroom. Unfortunately, bathroom lighting is often pushed to the side in the remodeling process in favor of more “fun” decisions like countertop selections and tile layouts. With bathrooms becoming more spa-like and less utilitarian, proper lighting is essential to making the most of the space. After all, we are talking about the room in which you likely begin and end your day; it must be lit properly to serve your needs. Here are some tips to employ when lighting your new bathroom:


Proper Task Lighting:

Particularly at the vanity, task lighting is important in a bathroom for applying makeup, shaving, tooth care, and other grooming activities. In order to prevent shadows across the face, it is best to light mirrors from the sides. Consider a sconce on either side of the mirror mounted at roughly eye level if space allows. This cross illumination will eliminate shadows which often occur with lighting from above. Choose lighting that has a color temperature of around 6500 Kelvins, which is equivalent to daylighting, for the most accurate lighting color. This cool lighting may not be the most flattering, but it will mimic what the world sees in daylight and will thus be best for grooming tasks, etc.

The shower and freestanding tub areas are additional locations where task lighting is needed. In these areas, covered, water-safe recessed lights will offer bright, functional lighting. Adding dimmers to these lights will also allow you more control of the lights so they can multifunction as relaxing mood lighting, perfect for a spa-like retreat.


General Lighting:

While task lighting is very important in a bathroom, it should not be the only source of light. I often see bathrooms that have one vanity light and no other light sources in the entire bathroom. This is how bathrooms were lit decades ago, but times have changed, and so have lighting philosophies. You wouldn’t just put one pendant light in your entire kitchen–this is the same idea. You need to also include ceiling-mounted or recessed lighting overhead for general illumination. A good tip is to select a bath fan that has an LED light with it. That way, the fixture can multitask without cutting up the ceiling more than necessary. Depending on the size of the room, a nice LED fan/light combo can be just the right amount of ambient light for “filling in” the rest of the light in the bathroom.

Night Light:

One item that often gets overlooked in bathroom lighting is a night light.  A surefire way to really wake yourself (and others) up in the middle of the night is by turning on bright lights to use the bathroom. Avoid this by installing some sort of minimal wattage night lighting by which to safely maneuver. This could be in the form of LED tape lighting under a vanity, a light up toilet seat (believe it or not), or with a nightlight option on a bath fan. Your sleepy self will thank you when you don’t have to turn on the main lights at 3am.


Ultimately, everything comes down to personal preference, but applying these bathroom lighting tips will help your space look great and function well. You could select the most high-end tile or the most luxurious jetted tub, but it will be all for naught if your lighting is inadequate. Considering these basic tips on proper bathroom lighting early on in your remodel process will help ensure your bath remodel meets your wants and needs at completion. You will thank yourself every time you step in to the bathroom each morning and every night before bed.

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