How To Light a Contemporary Bathroom With Wall Sconces

Steve Sheinkopf  |  February 10, 2014  |  3 Min. Read

Bathroom Lighting  |  Wall Sconces  |  Makeover Monday  |  Contemporary

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This is the second edition of Makeover Monday. We will show you a few easy tips using real life examples. I think you will really learn and have some solid takeaways.

When I started in 1986, contemporary was a foreign term in traditional New England. Now, contemporary and eclectic styles are much more popular. Contemporary is sleek, linear style without much ornamentation. However, sleek should not mean non-functional.

Lighting a Bath

Baths and kitchens need to be illuminated properly. Think about it, you turn the lights down in the den and use lamps in other places. You do not have that option in a bathroom.

Let me show an example of poor illumination. I love this bathroom by the way. Backlit mirror, Crystorama semi-flush chandelier and rainfall shower head (with LED lighting) and LED lights in the shower.


See the issue yet? Applying makeup or shaving is a problem in this bathroom as the main light source is behind the shaver. This produces shadowing and a very difficult shaving experience.

How To Light a Contemporary Bathroom

First, there are mirror with lights in the actual glass. I like this style...

Second choice is even better

Placing lights on either side is preferable, because you cross illuminate or show both sides of your face at the same time with equal light.

Simple Takeaways

  • Choose two sconces with at least 60 watts.
  • Hang them 65-67 inches off the ground. Higher if you are taller and lower if you are shorter (you do not want to look at the bulb)
  • Do NOT place a task light source behind you
  • Backlighting is not task lighting

Yes, contemporary can be sleek and functional.

BTW, these lights are popular


Special thanks to our friend, Jeff Swanson at Renovation Planning, for the after pictures. Check him out on Houzz or at

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Additional Resources

Read our Bathroom Lighting Buying Guide with tips for laying out your design, popular trends and even more. Over 45,000 people have already found answers in a Yale guide.

Bathroom Lighting Buying Guide

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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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