How To Perfectly Light Your Bathroom

Many of us consider our bathroom a place for sanctuary.  The bathroom is where we are encouraged to relax and unwind, shouldn't we make it as luxurious as we can .  One way to do this is with the proper levels of lighting.
A stunning white bathroom featuring a chevron tile floor.

Many of us consider our bathroom a place for sanctuary.  It is the one room in our home we can go to and legitimately lock the door to keep everyone else out.  The bathroom is where we are encouraged to relax and unwind, shouldn’t we make it as luxurious as we can .  One way to do this is with the proper levels of lighting.

You use your bathroom to prepare for your day, to relax after a long day, to recuperate, and for romance.  Let’s explore how to provide the perfect lighting needed to turn your bathroom into the relaxing and functional retreat you want to begin and end your day in.

The four different levels of lighting for your bathroom are task, accent, decorative, and ambient.

Task Lighting 

Task lighting in the bathroom refers to the light you use to see yourself best by.  In order to perform the rituals you need to do get ready for your day, you need proper lighting.   The most ideal lighting to have at your vanity is a pair of sconces mounted at eye level mounted on either side of the mirrors.  This creates an even distribution of light over the face rather than shadows.  It is the best light have for putting on your makeup, shaving, brushing your teeth, and so on.

bathroom - white - sconces-light-cabinets-mirrors-vanities
Sconces are ideal for task lighting at your vanity

The best measurements for mounting sconces in your bathroom are 60-66″ from the floor to the center of the light fixture.   They should be placed 36 – 40″ apart.   Remember, it is okay to mount sconces on top of mirrors.  The proper wattage is 60-80 watts distributed between both fixtures.

Tip: Avoid lights mounted over the mirror if you can.  Most builders will install lights over the mirror at the vanity.  The problem with placing your light over your vanity is that it throws a strong light on your forehead.  It also casts deep shadows below your eyes, nose, and chin.  This ages you visually by 10 years!  Who wants to look 10 years older in the morning when they are getting ready???  Having the proper lighting will help you look your best and make you feel more confident throughout your day.

If you have to mount fixtures about the mirror, they should be 75-80″ above the floor.   The fixtures themselves should be a minimum of 24″ wide with 75-100 watts of light.

Task Lighting in a Powder Bathroom

Task lighting in the powder room doesn’t need to be as strong as the other bathrooms.  A lower wattage, 45 watt range, provides a softer atmosphere.  You want a color temperature that will give your guest an inviting feeling.  It will also illuminates them in their most attractive way possible.

powder room-bathroom-gray-wallpaper-sconces-mirror
Use lower wattage sconces for Powder rooms.


Accent Lighting

If you have a niche in your bathroom or have art, then you will need an accent light to show it off properly.  A recessed directional can will allow you to provide a focused light to better feature your art.   You can also use rope lighting to feature a statue or floral arrangement in a niche.

Accent lighting in your niche highlights your display.

Decorative Lighting 

Decorative lighting adds shimmer and shine to your bathroom.  Try a chandelier or other overhead fixture  in the center of your space or possibly over the tub.  Your bathroom is not just a place for function, but also for relaxation and romance.  The right fixture can go a long in helping you to create the right tone and atmosphere you desire.

light - bathroom- white,-gray- marble -bath tub - tub - chandelier- traditional - contemporary - transitional
Chandelier light over the tub for romance and relaxation

However, there are rules to where and how you can place a chandelier in your bathroom.  In relation to you tub, it must have a clearance of 8′ above the highest point on your tub .  If it cannot go over your tub, it must be 3′ beyond it.

Ambient Lighting

Ambient light acts as a fill in light, or back up star of the show.  New homes have higher ceilings now and many have the cove, tray, or cantilever detailing  that is perfect for ambient lighting to be installed along the perimeter of the space.  Pendants with a translucent shade can also be great way to provide both decorative and ambient lighting.

Ambient Lighting in bathroom

Don’t forget candles! They are best ambient light source to promote relaxation and romance, and candles are the most complimentary light on our face.

Candlelight is the most complimentary light of all.

Setting Up Your Light Switches

Avoid putting you bathroom fan on a switch with a light and use dimmers.  You don’t want your fan to go every time you enter your water closet, wash your hands, or take a bath.  Consider all the levels of light you have and where or not you want one controlled at the same time you turn on another one.

When you light your bathroom properly, dimmers provide you the ability to control the amount of light and atmosphere that you need.

How To Perfectly Light Your Bathroom 1
Keep your lights and fans on different switches.

Now you are armed with the knowledge you need to use lighting to make your bathroom the luxurious retreat you want!

If it sounds too overwhelming to put together yourself, we would love to help! Book your complimentary discovery call.   We can talk about your project and see how we can serve you and your family!


We've Been Featured

Sherry Millien in Spring, TX on Houzz

About Me

A woman in a black dress sitting in a chair.

Sherry Millien, one of America’s premier interior designers and is known for the unique, one-of-a-kind interiors she creates for prominent clients throughout the metropolitan Houston area.

Recent Videos

Follow Us

Grab Our Free Ebook On Surviving Renovations!

Surviving Renovations
Surviving Renovations

Save Your Sanity

Grab Our Top Tips To Avoid Stressful Renovations

Surviving Renovations

Save Your Sanity

Grab Our Top Tips To Avoid Stressful Renovations

Surviving Renovations
Surviving Renovations E-Book