Bathroom & Vanity Lighting Done Right

Contemporary Bathroom Lighting Design

By Clarissa Allison | February 8th, 2018

We’ve all been the victims of bad bathroom lighting. When we use the facilities at a restaurant or bar, we quickly notice how splendid we look at one location, while appearing exhausted and washed out in another. What we don’t often give much thought to are the components which contribute to a well-lit, flattering and useful lighting scheme. Below, Louie Lighting has compiled our best tips on creating an elegant and effective lighting plan for your bath.


A successful lighting plan contains several elements: multiple light sources, (including both overhead and task lights), suitable light output, and to stand as a complement to the design of the room. Distance and location of lights are also important factors. Optimizing the install site minimizes the potential for unflattering shadows being cast on the face which is crucial when we’re contouring for our lives, achieving a clean, close shave and arranging the perfect coiffure.

Wall sconces placed on either side of the bathroom vanity mirror isn’t just for symmetry – doing so provides the ideal lighting for the sink area. As a general rule of thumb, mount them anywhere from 65 to 70 inches above the floor, at the eye level of those who will utilize this area the most. In this way, your fixtures will fully illuminate your face without casting those dreaded shadows. When installing fixtures above the mirror, the ideal height is about 78 inches. If possible, place the fixtures about 30 inches apart, should the configuration and design of your space allow.

Solace Bath Light | Tech Lighting

Solace Bath Light | Tech Lighting


We know what you’re thinking – dampness + electricity = possible danger. How do you know which lighting fixtures to choose for the bathroom? Yes, it IS important to note that when fixtures have a risk of coming into contact with water or spray such as in a tub or shower, you must choose lighting fixtures that are UL listed as “Damp Rated.” Such lighting fixtures (or ceiling fans) will be noted with “Suitable for Damp Locations” or “Suitable for Wet Locations”. Install these lights in an exterior or interior location that is normally or periodically subject to condensation of moisture. The moisture may accumulate in, on or adjacent to the electrical components of the light or fan.

Mia Bath Lighting | LBL Lighting

Mia Bath Lighting | LBL Lighting


The perfect lighting from wall sconces should be both functional and beautiful. Choose shades with a transparency and hue conducive to giving off diffused light that provides a bright, clean tone. Frosted or alabaster glass is often used near bathroom mirrors for this purpose.

Does your bathroom have a narrow layout? If so, try mounting sconces on the side walls, instead. The illumination will still be effective while maximizing your mirror’s size. If you possess a long vanity, it’s best to mount an additional sconce in the center along with single sconces placed on the outer sides. Avoid asymmetrical lighting, such as Placing a fixture only on one side of your vanity, as this will create uneven illumination, making grooming much less effective.

Kichler Lighting Bath Products

Kichler Lighting Bath Products

Edison bulbs, the vintage clear bulbs with exposed and spiral filaments are incredibly popular these days, but try to use these for decorative purposes only and not near mirrors. Opt for opaque or frosted bulbs instead, particularly if the bulb is exposed. It’s a good idea to utilize fixtures that are designed to hold 75- to 100-watt bulbs for a sconce that holds one lamp. For alternatives to hot incandescent bulbs, match the equivalent wattage to approximately 18 to 22 watts for fluorescent bulbs and 9 to 13 watts for LED bulbs. LED bulbs are the norm now, due to their long life, almost non-existent heat emittance and energy efficiency.


It is imperative to measure the space next to and above your vanity mirror prior to purchasing lighting fixtures. Your measurements can dictate whether to place fixtures to the side of the mirror or overhead.

Light fixtures mounted on either side of the mirror are the best for illuminating the face, but if that isn’t possible or preferred,  mount fixtures above the mirror which hold higher-wattage bulbs so that illumination may be cast evenly over the sinks.

If you aren’t able to find a horizontal bath light to your liking, try installing multiple sconces in a row. Bath lights are now designed in a multitude of sizes, allowing you to select the best option relative to the width of the mirror below.

If you’re using your bathroom lighting primarily for applying makeup, illuminated LED mirrors are ideal. They are a chic, contemporary replacement for the vintage style Hollywood lights that most people are familiar with from the vanities of the past.

Illuminated Oval | Paris Mirror

Illuminated Oval | Paris Mirror

Avoid installing recessed ceiling lights directly over the sink, as this can cast unwanted shadows on the face. If recessed lights at the sink area are desired or already in place, consider putting them on a different switch from the task lighting for more control over the lighting plan.

Finally, for more control over your bathroom lighting plan, consider installing a dimmer. Bright task lighting that’s optimal in daylight hours may be softened in the evenings during a relaxing bath before bedtime.

Remember, proper lighting can make all the difference in how you begin and end each day. A well lit and useful lighting scheme helps us present our best selves, relax with ease and get that cat-eye extra perfect for a night out.

Thanks for reading this week’s blog, for any questions or additional tips on your bathroom and vanity lighting plan, please email us at info@louielighting or call us toll free at 1-877 385 2104.

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