How to Light a Bathroom (Reviews, Styles, Tips, Prices)

Steve Sheinkopf  |  November 23, 2012  |  3 Min. Read

Bathroom Lighting  |  Lighting  |  Recessed Lighting

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“What is the best way to light a bathroom?” is a question we hear often.

Kitchens and baths are the two rooms actually needing proper illumination. Think about it. While watching TV, you actually shut off the lights. In the bedroom, you have a reading light (pre iPad and Kindle).

There are so many lights to choose:

bathroom wall sconce display 1

bathroom wall sconce display 2

bathroom wall sconce display 3

The basic principles of light layering still apply. Layering light basically means using several types of light based on the use of an area and lighting needs required for the overall look and purpose. The four layers of lighting are task lighting, ambient lighting, accent lighting and decorative lighting. Many lights may qualify as more than one layer. Layering your lighting helps create even, usable light levels for daily tasks, helps to highlight specific areas and actually reduces eye strain.

Specifically for the bathroom:  you should consider the following.

  1. Task lighting needs are for grooming at the sink/vanity area, showering, bathing and cleaning the bathroom.
  2. Decorative lighting can be from wall sconces or pendants at the mirror or possibly a chandelier or decorative fixture in the center of the bath. Possibly a wall fixture around the space keeping code requirements in mind.
  3. Accent lighting could be a small recessed light highlighting a picture or niche in the space.
  4. Your ambient lighting (soft, environmental lighting) can often be generated by the same sources based on how they are used and also controlled by the use of dimmers and shades.

The most important light is by the mirror for shaving or applying makeup. To have effective lighting, you must cross illuminate. There are 2.5 ways to accomplish this.

  • 1 - Wall sconces on either side are the best way to cross illuminate and prevent shadowing. Place the wall sconces 65-68 inches from the floor (this can vary based on your height, you don't want to look into a bulb). You can even hang pendants on either side.

    bathroom lighting applications 
  • 2 - Recessed lighting can also be place on either side. Be careful: If you position recessed behind you, there will be shadowing and ineffective lighting. If you place recessed too close to the wall it will be absorbed by the cabinet and/or mirror.

    bathroom recessed lighting 
  • 2.5 - Placing a sconce on the top of a mirror is not my favorite, but it is workable. Often times, builders will leave and plan the outlet in this way. There are many lighting sconces to solve this issue.

    bathroom lighting bath bar display 

Lastly, keeping light sources on separate zones for switching and dimming helps with both ambiance and the cost effectiveness for the overall operational costs. There are some great, inexpensive solutions for switching.

legrand adorne color finishes 2

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Steve Sheinkopf

Steve is the third-generation CEO of Yale and a lifelong Bostonian. He currently resides in Boston, one mile from where he was born. Despite being one of the worst goalies of all time, he is a huge hockey fan of college hockey and the Boston Bruins. The love of his life is his daughter Sophie.

Steve has also been featured in numerous publications such as the New York Times, Consumer Reports, The Boston Globe, Bloomberg Radio, the New York Post, The Wall Street Journal, and Entrepreneur, for his knowledge of how to buy appliances and appliance repair.

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