Bathroom Lighting Tips

Read these 13 Bathroom Lighting Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Lighting tips and hundreds of other topics.

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What do I need to know about buying a fan as part of my lighting design?

Bathroom Lighting and Fans

You probably don't think much about your bathroom fan -- it's just there. Yet research shows that many bathroom fans are outdated, noisy, use a lot of energy or simply don't do the job of draining moisture from the room. That can add to mold and odor problems.

A normal-sized bathroom needs a fan that can draw about 50 cubic feet per minute. If you have a larger bathroom, a spa or other moisture source in your bathroom, you'll want a more powerful fan.

Place bathroom fans as close as possible to the source of moisture. Any fan installed in a ceiling must be rated for use under insulation, and is usually connected with ducts to an outside vent.

Many fans come with lights, which thus become part of your bathroom lighting design. When you're buying a bathroom ceiling fan light, look for Home Ventilation Institute ratings, which will let you compare its noise and energy efficiency with those of other fans. If a fan has no ratings, it is probably noisy. Quiet fans will save you years of annoyance.

   
How can I best light my bathroom vanity?

Sconces vs. Bath Bars

In many bathrooms -- especially those put together by builders or others without lighting experience -- the bath bar lights over the sink provide the chief source of lighting for the vanity mirror.

This isn't always a good idea. Lighting above the mirror can cast shadows, making it hard to see the nose and chin accurately. That can make it more time-consuming to do a good job of shaving or putting on makeup.

Experts in bathroom lighting recommend placing sconces or vertical bars to the side of the mirror, rather than above. Hang the lights at about 5 1/2 feet off the floor -- at most people's eye level -- to get the best facial lighting. Be sure the lights aren't behind the mirror because you get more shadows that way.

   
How do I add luxury to my bathroom with lighting?

Fiat Lux-ury—Using Decorative Bathroom Lighting

You dream of a luxury bathroom but you're stuck until the kids grow up. You can add a touch of luxury without completely redoing the bathroom and breaking your budget. Bathroom lighting wall sconces look perfect with decorative mirrors. Just be sure to choose lighting that matches or complements the finish on the mirror frame and on the bathroom light fixture above the mirror.

We like “bell” downlight bathroom lighting fixtures, such as Sussex Collection, with frosted glass or plastic diffuser shades and simple yet elegant trim. Uplight wall sconces with “bell” or “flower” shades on either side of the mirror add a refined touch.

You might also try a modern streamlined high-tech look with a frameless bathroom mirror complemented by "swoosh,” wave, or long tall vertical wall sconces in iron, silver, pewter or nickel finish. Now that you have the perfect lighting, you can feel better when your teenagers fight over the bathroom.

   
What's the best way to use bronze in the bathroom?

Bronze Age Bathroom Lighting

Decorative mirrors tend to overwhelm a room in large doses. That said, the type of bulbs you use can minimize the effect. Provide enough lighting to brighten the room but not so much that you overwhelm it. Try installing stylish yet subtle sconces around your mirror.

Don't have a bathroom lighting guide? Try these tips: Use warm-colored shades such as amber rather than clear transparent glass for your bathroom lighting. And, consider using a bathbar that isn't bronze, but blends well or is inconspicuous. You can use a bronze bathbar if you choose a simpler, streamlined one. Too many bronze leaves and vines can overwhelm.

   
How do I jazz up a plain bathroom mirror with light?

Lighting Makeover for Mirrors

You went all out with the bathroom fixtures and forgot to budget for the mirror, so you chose a simple beveled or plain glass mirror with no trim. You're not skimping on your bathroom lighting budget, which means you have a perfect chance to jazz up that plain mirror. Here are few ideas from our bathroom lighting guide: • Art deco bathroom light bathbar for a plain bathroom mirror

  • Crystal bathbars (such as the James R. Moder Princess design and sleek nickel-and-glass lights) around bathroom mirrors.
  • Wide Kathy Ireland cuatro wall sconces on opposite sides of the wall.
  • Bathroom light fixtures with metal vines.
  • Streamlined "side sconces" to fit the bathroom mirror.
  • Contemporary or "swoop" collection bathroom light wall sconces.

Tip: Bathroom light wall sconces should be 3 to 4 feet apart on the wall in order to light both sides of your face. A plain mirror or one with minimal trim can give you more freedom to experiment with lighting options. See, you didn't make a budget error after all!

   
What's the best lighting for a bathroom mirror that covers the wall?

Lighting For Bathroom Wall Mirrors

Bathroom mirror giving you headaches? Maybe it's the lighting on or around your mirror. If you have decorative mirrors as well as bathroom mirrors that cover the entire wall, large lighting fixtures can be too much. For bathroom lighting placed above decorative mirrors, try bathroom light fixture housing that looks more contemporary or minimalist.

If your bathroom mirror spans the entire wall, or if you have a mirrored wall above the sink, track-style lighting above the mirror with GE Globe Bulbs (we prefer opaque), or Indoor Flood Light Bulbs your reflection, your reflection will look lighter and clearer. We like the chrome, brass or Broadway-style “bathbars” and light strips. So instead of dreading your morning face wash, you can be ready for your close-up!

   
How do I add extra light to my vanity table in a dim bathroom?

The Vanity Mirror Has Two Faces

You inherited that antique vanity dressing table from Great-Aunt Louise, or you bought a streamlined console vanity from your favorite furntiure shop. But unless that big round mirror is lighted, you may need a magnifying mirror, especially if your vanity is in an alcove. Even in a master bath with ample space for your vanity, you need plenty of bathroom lighting. Otherwise, decorative mirrors amplify the shadows.

Be sure to position your vanity near your main bathroom mirrors so that you can get the full benefit of bathroom lighting. If you want wall lamp lighting in your dressing and makeup area, attach a Pewter Vanity Overhang Bathroom Light Fixture to the wall above your vanity. To maximize bathroom light, invest in smaller magnifying illuminated vanity mirrors that you can place beside your makeup. The magnification preserves your eyes, while the bathroom lighting makes you not only see better, but look better!

   
What's the best lighting for a bathroom mirror that covers the wall?

Mirrored Walls and Bathroom Lighting

You're not satisfied with cheval bathroom mirrors or decorative mirrors with vines and filigree. You want mirrored closet and shower doors as well as sink and vanity bathroom mirrors that cover the walls. Bathroom light should complement your mirrors. You don't want a "funhouse" effect through too much glare or too many shadows.

Mirrors tend to make a room look more open, as does proper lighting. Recessed bathroom lighting with opaque or not-too-clear globes will spread bathroom light evenly. Angle the lighting to reduce glare and shadow. Halogen wall sconces make your mirrors shine and flatter your skin tones as you're applying makeup, dressing, and preparing today's budget speech all at once! You can see yourself clearly from every angle, and you'll love the effect.

   
I like tropical motifs, can I use them in my bathroom lighting?

Tropical Light Fixtures

You just returned from Tahiti and want to keep that island feeling, even in your bathroom. Say "Aloha" to our tropic-inspired bathroom lighting ideas.

  • Choose recessed lighting for the ceiling as opposed to fluorescent glare, which doesn't work with the tropical theme.
  • Try bathroom light fixtures with rattan or bamboo shades.
  • Pair a table lamp with a bathroom mirror, bathbar and wall sconce such as the West Indies Wall Sconce.
  • Go Margaritaville with a tropical parrot lamp.
  • Add decorative mirrors with wicker or rattan trim.
  • Don't overwhelm your bathroom with dark colors, which make the room look smaller and cancel out all the gorgeous tropical bathroom light!

Now close your eyes, sip a Mai Tai and pretend it's not Monday in the city.

   
How do I properly light an enclosed toilet or half-bath?

Lighting for Half-Baths

Your lighting dreams are big, but your bathroom space is small in a one-bedroom apartment, cottage or prefab home. If you have a half-bath you can start to feel claustrophobic. Your bathroom may be cramped, but you can make it look larger and more inviting without knocking out a wall.

If you can't change your living situation, you can change your lighting by following the techniques that experts use with enclosed toilets. You don't want a naked, absolutely clear bulb or a globe with harsh fluorescent lighting, which gives the half-bath or bathroom a "prison cell" effect. Try to follow this bathroom lighting guide:

  • Light bathroom mirrors with bright bathbars and wall sconces. Bathroom light around the mirror can flood a small space.
  • Use recessed lighting with incandescent R-lamps the way you would for a larger bathroom.
  • Use fluorescent flight with frosted glass, which is cooler and also easier for older people, especially around both sides of a mirror.

   
What’s the best lighting for a bathtub or shower area?

Bath and Shower Lighting

Slipping in the shower? Not getting your back adequately clean? Did you forget to read a bathroom lighting guide?! When designing your bathroom lighting, you probably forgot to shed some light on your bath time.

There are many bathroom lighting options around so don't settle. Adequate bathroom lighting should be set up so that it brightens the room without casting shadows under your features (eyes, nose, cheeks, chin, etc.). Install central lighting and, in addition, add lights on the walls (especially around mirrors).

   
What is the basic principle of bathroom lighting?

Basics of Bathroom Lighting

In many homes, the lighting in the bathroom gets little consideration and even less of the budget. Yet, our bathrooms are increasingly becoming places of relaxation and renewal. Great lighting can create the atmosphere you want to start and end your day.

A good bathroom lighting design provides strong illumination for the head and face with bath vanity lighting, then creates a mood in the rest of the room.

   
I plan to include a dressing area in my new bathroom. How should I light it?

Add a Lighted Mirror to Dressing Areas

Bathrooms in today's houses are growing larger, and many times there is room set up as a separate dressing area apart from the bath and toilet functions.

This area, too, will need well-lit mirrors to make things easy for the people who use it. As with your bath vanity lights, bathroom lighting design for this area should feature lights hung at adult eye level, rather than over a mirror.

   
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Candi Wingate