Whether you're fully renovating the master bath or doing a small powder room update, find out everything you need to know about bathroom lighting. Lighting is often the first step in renovating your space, since it will help set the tone and add functionality to your bath. However, there are a few important things to consider before purchasing your light fixtures.
First, think about the type of bathroom you have, along with your vanity mirror and console size, and how that changes your lighting needs. Always take into account your mirror and console before considering measurements and fixture size, as this will affect where your electrician will install the J-box for your lighting.
See our breakdown of general lighting types, bath lighting styles, and wattage recommendations to get started. In the interior design world, there are three main types of lighting in a room:
- Ambient: General lighting that illuminates the whole space; most often ceiling lights.
- Task: Focused illumination for specific tasks, like reading or getting ready at the vanity.
- Accent: Supplementary lighting that illuminates dark corners or small spaces.
When you're thinking about lighting your bathroom, consider these three main types to ensure your space is effectively lit. For a small powder room, lower-wattage ambient light may be all you need. For a spacious master bath retreat, several lighting types might serve the space better. Below, you'll find our main styles of bathroom lighting and how they help create a perfectly illuminated bath.
Ceiling LightingAmbient lighting in a bathroom is most often from ceiling and overhead lights. Upgrade your existing flush-mount ceiling light with an elegant schoolhouse shade, or make a statement in a spacious bath with a vintage-inspired chandelier. In a low-ceiling space or for a streamlined look, opt for a true flush mount ceiling fixture.
All of our bath light fixtures are either UL Damp-Rated or Wet-Rated for maximum durability and safety in damp environments. Damp-Rated lights are ideal above sinks or as the main overhead light in a full bath, whereas a Wet-Rated fixture is needed for lights above a bathtub or shower.
Vanity LightingIn a bathroom, task lighting is usually used for the vanity area. Wall sconces provide elegant task lighting that's perfect for getting ready. For a statement, try using two small pendants on either side of the mirror instead of sconces (if it's a powder room, you can also use many of our dry-rated pendants).
See our quick video on bathroom sconce placement for ideas on how to set up your vanity.
If you're working with an average-size medicine cabinet or mirror, place two lights on either side of the mirror at eye level, about 65 inches from the floor and a couple inches from the edge of your mirror. For a single light above the mirror, place it around 80 inches from the floor for an ideal height. The bottom of the fixture or shade should be at least two inches above the top edge of your mirror. Look for fixtures that are slightly smaller than the width or height of your mirror for an ideal visual ratio.
Small Space Note: For a narrow bath or vanity, try a single overhead sconce or bath bar above the mirror to save space. In a small powder room where the vanity is flush with wall on either side, consider flush-mounted sconces on the side walls to maximize your mirror space. Our Oval Bulkhead sconce offers a streamlined option with about a four-inch depth.
Bath Bar Lighting: Bath bar lights provide bright, even light that's ideal for a main bath vanity. Consider two bath bars installed vertically on either side of the mirror, or one overhead about 80 to 85 inches from the floor. Our West Slope LED sconces feature a timeless bath bar design for even, flattering illumination.
Accent LightingWhile accent lighting is typically more relvant for larger spaces like bedrooms and living rooms, many powder rooms can incorporate dry-rated fixtures as accent lighting. Add a mini table lamp to a small table or empty counter space in your powder room, or create an inviting space with two low-wattage sconces.
Light Bulbs and WattageDimmers: Consider installing dimmers when you update your lighting or electric wiring. Dimmers are a great option for any bathroom; it adds subtle illumination during the daytime and less harsh light if you have to get up in the night.
Wattage: For sconces or pendants on either side of a mirror, two 60-watt bulbs will provide plenty of illumination for a master vanity. In a powder room where you don't need as much targeted light, 40 watts may be ideal. If you're looking for a long-lasting, sustainable option, we also offer dimmable LED-integrated light fixtures and LED bulbs for many of our fixtures.
Get started on your bathroom retreat and shop our versatile bathroom lighting!