Lighting Style and Trends Blog

Bathroom Lighting Done Right

Posted by Heather Asiyanbi on Fri, March 05, 2010
Whether it measures 50 square feet or is big enough to vacation there, lighting a bathroom can be a challenge. There are a number of details to consider: if an overhead light is needed; the type of overhead light; lighting over and around mirrors; and the type of bulbs to use. Plus, how much light is too little, too much, or just right? We've got the answers. (The photo at right is from ELK Lighting.)

The size of the bathroom is really the greatest consideration when deciding on what kind of light to use. In most cases, vanity lighting above and around the vanity/mirror will be sufficient. Generally, a bathbar (row of lights) should be centered over the mirror with a sconce on either side to eliminate shadowing the face.

The bathbar or fixture should be about 78 inches from the floor, and the sconces should measure 60 inches from the floor.

If there is a double vanity - with either one large mirror or two mirrors - the bathbar should be nearly as wide as the mirror(s). If two fixtures are being used, position them centered over the sink.

Generally speaking, homeowners should measure 300 watts for every 50 square feet. That means bulbs for the bathbar and sconces for the most common sized bathroom should total no more than 300 watts; five bulbs at 60 watts each = 300 watts.

A lot of people forget about natural light, a very important piece of bathroom lighting. Windows, sky lights, and tube lights are a great way to use light to brighten up a space without using electricity during the day. In a previous post, we described layered lighting throughout a room using a variety of different fixtures for distinct purposes. Think of natural light as overall lighting; the overhead you would normally turn on with the switch.

For truly large bathrooms, other fixtures that can function as overall, or ambient, lighting include flush or semi-flush mount ceiling downlights, or even a small chandelier for a designer touch.

As for the kind of bulb - soft white, white, compact fluorescent (CFL) - that's best in the bathroom, it's really a personal choice. Typically, the clearest, truest light that best mimics daylight should be chosen, keeping in mind that while CFL does deliver a clear brightness, one of the reasons the bulbs save consumers money is that they don't light up full blast when you flip the switch; the longer the light is activated, the brighter it becomes until it reaches full strength.

In addition to bathroom lighting we recommend bathroom vanities from,®, the online leader in Faucets, Sinks, Fixtures, and accessories for the Kitchen and Bath.  Be sure to check out their Faucet Blog called Faucet Expert

Tags: bathroom mirror, vanity lighting, mirror, lighting, bathroom vanity, bathbar, vanity, Bathroom Lighting

Subscribe to our blog

Lighting Blog Search


Posts by category