Guide to Bathroom Lighting

September 17, 2016

Guide to Bathroom Lighting

Considering the varied activities we perform in the bathroom, a multifaceted lighting system is your best choice for a well-lit room. The following lighting types all combine to create a functional and attractive bathroom lighting design.


Also referred to as general lighting, ambient lighting illuminates the entire bathroom when you flip on the switch and walk into the room. Such lighting allows you to easily navigate the space and find items quickly. Ambient lighting also tends to be soft, which gives your skin a pleasing appearance in the mirror.

The most effective ambient lights for illuminating the entire room tend to be ceiling mounted flush or semi-flush fixtures. How large of a ceiling mounted light you install will depend on the size of the bathroom. The smaller the bathroom, the smaller the fixture should be.

If the bathroom is especially tiny, instead of a ceiling fixture, use a few strategically placed recessed lights. Such a lighting system will sufficiently light up the space, and since they are flush with the ceiling, recessed lights won’t make the small space look even smaller or cluttered.


Vanity lights, which consist of a row of usually three to four fixtures, are generally installed above mirrors in the bathroom, while some vanity lights are a part of the vanity itself. Such lights tend to be bright, giving you ample illumination to perform tasks such as shaving and makeup application. When you want a more calming, peaceful atmosphere for activities such as bathing, vanity lights can be turned off.

Wall sconces also provide a good source of light in the bathroom for performing various tasks that require high light. It’s generally suggested that you place sconces on both sides of the mirror, which will help prevent shadows and give you the best illumination for close-up work.


As its name suggests, accent lighting allows you to spotlight certain elements in the bathroom such as pieces of art and architectural features like tile work. Such lighting also gives you the opportunity to create depth in the room.

Accent light fixtures include spotlights, pendant lights and decorative light fixtures. Because such lighting tends to be subdued and limited in scope, it is also used to create a relaxing, peaceful mood in the bathroom. Such lighting is only effective when the general ambient lighting is turned off.


Bathrooms with windows and skylights can also take advantage of outdoor lighting during the daytime hours. How much lighting you have to work with will depend on window positioning, how many windows the room has and their size. Skylights give the most light, while northern exposure windows let in the least amount of sun. The bigger the window, the more natural light the room will get.

Now that you’re illuminated regarding the various lighting options for your bathroom, you can light up the room with confidence.

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