Bathroom Lights Guide – How To Choose The Most Flattering Lighting For A Bathroom

A lot goes into deciding bathroom lighting, yet it’s an element of design and bathroom renovation that often gets overlooked. This bathroom lighting guide delves into the types of lighting and fixtures most common to redesigns and renovations. The best lighting for bathrooms is that which illuminates some key areas. Mirror lighting. Vanity lighting. Lights in strategic places. That’s what we’re discussing when we talk bathroom lights. A single ceiling light fixture rarely is enough to light a bathroom adequately. Your bathroom is somewhere to relax and escape what’s going on in the outside world. It’s not somewhere that should be dark or unkempt. This guide highlights several different approaches, touching upon layered lighting, mood lighting, targeted lighting, and more. The right bathroom lighting design is easy to achieve and intuitive when you really get down to looking at a bathroom’s existing layout. Then, with a little help, anyone can have luxurious, trendy bathroom lights placed in all the right areas.

Bathroom Lights Guide – How To Choose The Most Flattering Lighting for a Bathroom

Discover What Type Of Lighting Is Best For Your Bathroom

A strong bathroom lighting design is typically one that has layered lighting. That is, to think of lighting as a form of cascading layers.

You will have a light by your vanity, for example, so that the person there can see what they’re doing. This is task lighting.

You have ambient lighting, which can be thought of as a sort of artificial lighting. It’s very central, usually surface-mounted, and can be dressed in some really exquisite fixtures highlighting your unique sense of style. There is also accent lighting blended in to highlight certain architectural features or can be used more decoratively.

Even a small bathroom can benefit from understanding where accent lighting, ambient lighting, and task lighting are to be placed. These three types of bathroom lighting have to interact with one another as a miscalculation results in the room either having not enough lighting or too much.

The best bathroom lighting for your bathroom is custom to what else is in the room and how you intend to use it. The shape and size of the bathroom, the size of the vanity and mirror, and the shower stall or tub placement are all considerations that will affect where you will want to put bathroom lights and what kind of lighting is needed.

Other considerations include:

  • Ambient. This type of lighting is general and illuminates the whole of the bathroom. Ambient lighting takes the place that natural light would normally have. A ceiling light is an example of ambient lighting.
  • Task. Lighting assigned to specific areas, such as a vanity and mirror, is task lighting. It is targeted and a necessity in a bathroom where tasks like brushing teeth, bathing, and getting ready take place.
  • Accent. A bathroom still may suffer from dark, poorly lit areas. In these spots, accent lighting takes center stage. This is a form of supplementary lighting.

Choosing Light Bulb That is Right For Your Bathroom

Choosing Light Bulb That is Right For Your Bathroom

The best light bulb type for a bathroom is often LEDs which are energy-efficient, last decades, and don’t contribute to heat buildup.

Brightness is a key factor in selecting bathroom light bulbs. The more lumens and wattage involved, the brighter the bulb. In a bathroom, you never want blinding light, of course. A standard 100-watt bulb is 1,600 lumens and should be more than enough to supply adequate bathroom lighting, although this really varies according to taste.

Light colour is also very important to relax in a bathroom. Light bulb types for a bathroom should range from soft whites and yellows to daylight or blue-range bulbs. Most bathrooms will go reaching for warm whites. For chrome or white fixtures, a bright white light bulb is another type you might rely on. Anything brighter is generally unnecessary though, again, this is according to taste.


A dimmer is also an aspect of bathroom lighting that, if you want, you want to make sure you have the fixtures and light bulbs that can accommodate it. Dimmers are a great bathroom lighting idea as it emphasizes mood, gives you control over how bright or dark it is, and is adjustable according to taste. Fortunately, most light bulb types are capable of working with a dimmer, so you shouldn’t have any trouble there.

How the light appears on your skin is something else to know when buying bulbs. A crisp white can illuminate almost any skin tone accurately, but with filters and other colours in the bathroom, you might surprise yourself with exactly how much the look of skin changes when you look in the bathroom mirror.

Layer Bathroom Lighting Ideas

A bathroom with no natural lighting is no problem! Layer bathroom lighting, with ceiling light for ambient illumination and complementary lighting, spread across the design. Do know that light will reflect in the bathroom mirror. A mix of vanity lights and a ceiling light is perfect for something like a basement bathroom with no windows. You won’t miss not having any natural light to work with. Ensure you have lights for common bathroom tasks, i.e. showering, shaving, putting on makeup, and more.

Layer Bathroom Lighting Ideas

Overall Bathroom Lighting

Lots of bathroom lighting ideas exist for your overall approach. An extra window or mirror can increase the natural light that shines into a space. A chandelier or trendy pendant fixture emphasizes the style of your bathroom. A dimmer provides control over how bright or dim your bathroom is. LED light strips installed around specific spots, such as a cabinet or mirror, adds background illumination. How you light an element like a shower stall or a vanity is also open to the imagination, with lots of ways to customize where and what fixtures get used.

Modern Bathroom Ceiling

Bathroom Lighting Ideas For A Large Bathroom

Large bathrooms can accommodate very luxurious and expressive fixtures and lighting that a smaller space can’t. Chandeliers and pendants or a flush mount light above your tub or at the center of the room is an eye-catching feature that anyone can appreciate. There are also ways to install lighting that emphasizes height or width, all according to what you see for your large bathroom and elements you’ve placed inside. In general, large bathrooms allow for more decorative lighting but, at the same time, necessitate a consideration on how to keep the entirety of the space well-lit.

Bathroom Lighting Ideas for a Large Bathroom

Bathroom Lighting Ideas For A Tub

Be careful putting bathroom lighting over a tub. There may be existing building codes preventing that, to an extent. However, there are still creative ways to use spotlights outside of this ‘over-tub’ zone to highlight the area. In most cases, your ambient lighting may be enough. Properly installed in-tub or underwater mood lights can add a romantic effect which is popular for whirlpools. Installing bright trim lights and similar fixtures rated for shower and tub use is another way to get lighting in tight quarters.

Bathroom Dark Floor

Daylight Bathroom Lights

A key to running across modern bathroom lighting ideas is understanding how to use daylight. If there’s natural light coming through, plan your bathroom to accommodate as much of it as you can—big windows. Mirrors to bounce lighting off of. A skylight may be an option on some properties. There are lots of ways to bring in more sunlight without disturbing a bathroom’s need to be private. In some examples, accent lighting and targeted lighting might still be something you want to use to cover up the spots where not enough daylight reaches.

Daylight Bathroom Lights

Different Types Of Bathroom Light Fixtures

The fixtures you choose for your bathroom can really freshen up the look, emphasizing style and aesthetic. Your light fixtures should relate to the styles and elements already present around them, from installing lighting around a vanity to doing a whole bathroom renovation. The right light fixture might not just be decorative. They add direction in some cases and help to filter certain types of light bulbs. These different types of light fixtures are well worth having a look at!

Bathroom Bar Lights

Bar lights are thin and compact, acting as both ambient and task lighting. Bathroom bar lights are available in various sizes and can be installed horizontally or vertically in line with what you need. This type of thin lighting is particularly common in modern and minimalist bathrooms. Although they aren’t naturally attention-grabbing, bar lights supplement space with lighting emphasizing other design elements.

Bathroom Lights Guide – How To Choose The Most Flattering Lighting for a Bathroom

Bathroom Vanity Light Fixtures

Vanity lights are diverse in their style and size. Installed above a mirror and vanity, they form the bedrock of lighting in most bathrooms. They are often mounted and point downward in an attempt to direct light to someone performing tasks at the vanity. This is where you get the chance to show off your personality with bathroom vanity light fixtures tailored to you. They range from two lights to up to eight.

Vaulted Bathroom Ceiling

Wall Sconces Bathroom Lights

Don’t mistake wall sconces. They aren’t just decorative. Placed beside mirrors above the sink, wall sconce bathroom lighting is quality ambient lighting. They’re also a great way to illuminate yourself when you’re applying makeup and shaving. The exact style of fixtures varies, just like vanity light fixtures and bar lights. Choose your style. Choose your bulb. Light up yourself in front of your mirror with the most complementary wall sconces.

Modern White Bathroom with vanity

Variety Of Bathroom Light Fixture Styles

It’s important to have a sense of the different styles of bathroom light fixtures available. The aesthetics vary quite a bit, each style perfect for a different bathroom. From modern sleekness to industrial weight, materials and shading also vary under each design category. As a result, light fixtures are something every bathroom can play with, regardless of size, shape, or budget.

Modern Bathroom Light Fixtures

Modern bathroom light fixtures are usually chrome or matte. They have sleek and clean lines and are very minimalist. They are perfect for vanity lighting and wall sconces in a bathroom, not overly distracting or overwhelming and contribute ample lighting.

Modern Bathroom Light Fixtures

Transitional and Industrial Bathroom Light Fixtures

Transitional lighting brings together elements of classic traditional and contemporary. It’s easily blended in with different textures, and styles and is often relied upon in bathrooms that don’t follow a standard style mode. Industrial bathroom lighting, in comparison, leans on vintage style and often incorporates elements like old metal and wire in look and Edison bulbs. Both looks are found in a wide variety of bathroom light fixtures, very different from modern.

Transitional and Industrial Bathroom Light Fixtures

Bathroom Vanity Lighting Ideas

The right bathroom vanity lighting is not only stylish but illuminates the area to serve a purpose. No one wants to be putting on makeup in the dark. If you don’t have enough natural light – and most bathrooms don’t – the lights installed around a vanity is as ambient as it is task-based. Find the right bathroom vanity lighting to layout in your bathroom design with these bathroom lighting ideas.

LED Strips

LED strips are a creative way to add backlighting or accent lighting in a bathroom. Install them behind a mirror, cabinet, vanity, or anywhere you want to create a mood or a luxurious lighting effect. LED strips will not be enough lighting to provide more than an accent, but they’re exceptional at creating an atmosphere.

Framed Bathroom Shower Niches

Recessed Vanity Lights

Recessed vanity lighting, more commonly known as ‘pot lights’ is an in-ceiling lighting option. They provide lots of light, are minimalist in design, and blend in amongst almost any bathroom style. Recessed bathroom vanity lights are complementary in design. You will still want other light fixtures to provide light. Something to remember about pot lights is their placement can mean problematic shadows on one’s face. They should be used sparingly and only where it makes the most sense.

Bathroom Ceiling Ideas and Material Options


Chandeliers, despite their stylish design, do not provide a lot of light. However, installing a chandelier in a large master bathroom can be a truly majestic addition to the room. It’s a touch of luxury that will not go unnoticed. Thankfully, chandeliers also come in lots of different aesthetics, ranging from modern and abstract to more classic and traditional.


Mirror Vanity Lights

Mirror vanity lights are lights that are placed directly on your mirror. This is just as much task lighting as it is a visual effect. Mirror vanity lights can be bulbs, a strip of LEDs, or be from another shape. A set of vanity lights is a fine way to save space and give your mirror some razzle-dazzle.

Mirror Vanity Lights


Pendants provide direct lighting. Hung over bathroom vanity, they can help illuminate what’s in front of you. Pendant bathroom lighting is usually done in multiples, such as two or three, but can also exist as a single. For long vanities, pendants work very well at providing light and can be adjusted, customized, or multiplied according to your bathroom’s circumstances.


Vanity Lighting – Shade Options

Light shade options are an excellent vanity lighting choice for the bathroom. Heat-proof glass is the most common, typically formed as a clear glass or alabaster, frosted, hammered, opal-etched, or coloured. Vanity light shades can be made from other materials as well, such as metals. You will also find them in several different shapes, providing plenty of possibilities for your bathroom vanity.

Vanity Lighting – Shade Options

Choose The Best Lighting For Bathroom With Easy Tips

You’ll spend hours every week in your bathroom, in amongst the layout and lighting. The best bathroom lighting gets the details right how it’s positioned. At what height. How the lighting creates or minimizes shadows. These things are worth getting right in choosing the right bathroom lighting for you. So here are a few tips for weighing as you look at ways to fill your bathroom with just the right amount of light.

Get the Height Right

A tricky question if you’re new to bathroom lighting is, what is the best height for light fixtures? The answer depends on who uses the room the most. Installing bathroom lighting at eye level is best. Ideally, this is 65-70 inches off the floor. There is no rule saying you can’t adjust this to be higher. This is an easy thing to overthink, but at the end of the day, it’s whichever height comes naturally to you.

Get the Height Right

Don’t Forget About Backlighting

Backlighting is particularly important in bathrooms to highlight clothing, shapes, shoulders, and hair in more detailed ways. Especially around vanities, behind and above, the right backlighting adds the sort of illumination you’ll appreciate when putting together an outfit or getting ready to go out. Be careful with backlighting as well when it comes to glare and adding too much. A little goes a long way.

Don’t Forget About Backlighting

Dimmer Switchers Are Helpful

We are big fans of dimmer switches in bathroom lighting layouts. They add atmosphere and allow you to control mood, adjusting it depending on your preferences or time of day. Dimmer lights around a vanity can also gently ease you into your day without overpowering illumination first thing in the morning. In modern bathrooms, dimmers are one of those features you want to make sure you at least consider.

Dimmer Switchers Are Helpful

Floor Bathroom Lights Are Cool

Floor lights are an unexpected luxury bathroom lighting feature. Imagine waking up in the middle of the night, turning on your floor lights, and totally avoiding being woken up with lights as you go to the bathroom. Floor lights are soft on the eyes and can be built-in or placed beneath your vanity. They add a whole new way to experience your bathroom and instantly increase the appeal.

Floor Bathroom Lights Are Cool

Do not Rely on Backlit Mirror

A backlit mirror isn’t enough light. These mirrors are very trendy and stylish, but in terms of using your mirror to get ready, backlighting tends to light the back more than it does the front. Therefore, you will want to combine any sort of backlit mirror with elements like wall sconces or pendant lighting. A combination of these can add an exquisitely luxurious dynamic that you will love.

White or Beige Bathroom Ceiling

Do not Overdo With Metal Shades

Metal shades are a bathroom lighting element that’s better utilized in smaller amounts. Metal is very trendy right now, but using solid metal shades exclusively in the bathroom will leave a lot in the dark. You will want to counteract the lack of lighting from metal shades with additional illumination, such as recessed lighting overhead or a skylight, especially around a vanity.

Do not Overdo With Metal Shades

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