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How To Light a Bathroom Mirror With Sconces

Felisberto Silva  |  October 31, 2014  |  3 Min. Read

Bathroom Lighting  |  Wall Sconces

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Aside from the kitchen, the bathroom might require the most serious amount of planning for your lighting.

Like any room, we typically recommend using the four types of lighting to make sure the room is properly illuminated – general, task, accent, and decorative.

This bathroom has a good amount of natural light coming in from the window by the tub. The designer has used recessed to provide task lighting over the bathtub in addition to general light. The sconces in between the mirrors help to create cross-illumination.

Having a light over the mirror helps to create task light, but can sometimes create dark shadows on the face. These dark shadows can also be seen when recessed is used in the bathroom and improperly placed. Recessed lighting or flush mounts would work better for general lighting. Accent lighting in the bathroom can be achieved through directional (or gimbal) recessed lights. Decorative lighting brings in personality and can best be achieved in the bathroom through pendants or chandeliers.

This bathroom does all aspects of lighting justice. The recessed helps to provide ambient lighting, as well as task lighting in the shower. The chandelier over the tub provides some decorative lighting, and the sconces provide illumination for the mirror.

In our showroom, we feature an entire room for bathroom sconces. The majority of the fixtures are set to be installed over the mirror, but it has (pardon the pun) come to light in recent years that flanking the mirror with sconces is another great, if not better, alternative. By flanking the mirror with sconces, you create cross-illumination, which helps to light the face better and provide shadow-less illumination for grooming tasks.

Customers ask where to hang the sconces if they are going to convert from an over-the-vanity light to flanking. This is a great question if your electrical boxes haven’t been installed yet! Most sconces are hung 64” off the finished floor to be at eye-level. This is a good place to start, but can be adjusted according to your height! Sconces can hang anywhere from 60” to 70”. It is important to keep multiple sconces the same distance from the sides of the mirror and wall. We tend to recommend looking for lighting after the mirror has been chosen to make sure the sconces will fit on the wall with the mirror. Sconces that flank the mirror should be 36” to 40” apart. For wattage, we recommend 60W to 80W. If you have other lighting in the space, you can go with 60W.

When considering style of wall sconces, be sure to take into consideration the finish, the style, and color of your existing elements in your bathroom. Most clients tend to match their fixtures to their faucets – i.e., if they use brushed nickel faucets and brushed nickel hardware, they usually match with brushed nickel sconces. The same goes for the style – if they have used traditional elements in the bathroom, they should then continue to use traditionally styled light fixtures. One other element to consider is color – most sconces have frosted white glass, but there are companies out there that make colored glass. The color of the glass in the sconce should match existing accent colors in the space to keep the look cohesive.

The bathroom above features more of a bath-bar type of style to light the mirror and recessed to light the shower. I like that the bath bars are a polished nickel finish to match the mirror, legs of the vanity, faucet, and shower. 

Key Takeaways

  1. Try to use all the different types of lighting to illuminate your bathroom.
  2. Flanking the mirror with sconces gives you the best illumination for task lighting.
  3. Sconces can hang anywhere from 60” to 70” off the floor, depending on your height, and should be 36” to 40” apart.
  4. Matching the sconces to the finishes and style of your space will help to keep the look cohesive.

Additional Resources

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Felisberto Silva

Felisberto Silva is a Lighting Sales Consultant at Yale Appliance. Fe has worked at Yale for over 15 years. In his spare time, he likes to spend time with his three children and traveling.

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