Bathroom & Vanity Lighting 101

As the primary spot for precision tasks like applying makeup, shaving, and trimming ear and nose hair, a bathroom needs to have plenty of light. When you get ready to revamp your fixtures, be sure to consider what you need for your day-to-day activities, and include a mixture of ceiling lights, wall sconces and recessed units to reduce any chance of shadows. As you start your search, keep in mind the following:

What types of lighting works best in bathrooms?

Because a bathroom is often a small space, opt for space-saving units instead of over-sized chandeliers or floor lamps. Strip lights, recessed, ceiling and wall fixtures are all popular options. 
Strip lights: When placed above or alongside your bathroom mirror, strip lights will significantly reduce shadows, helping you shave or apply makeup. Available in a variety of styles, including globes, upturned or down-turned cups, strip lights work best with halogen or fluorescent bulbs. 
Recessed and overhead lights: For general or task lighting, particularly above the shower or commode, recessed or overhead fixtures are generally your best bet. Depending on the light bulb and wattage you use, they can provide a soft glow or a bright light. 
Wall lights: A wall light, such as a bracket or sconce, is ideal for accenting and complementing overhead lights. They can add a decorative flair to the bathroom and can also be installed beside mirrors to help reduce shadows. 

What style vanity lighting is available?

Consider your bathroom’s décor to decide what style will work for you. Wall sconces in particular often come in unique designs — you can even get a swing arm light for added style and convenience. If the design is limited, spruce up a bland light by opting for a unique finish. Brass, bronze and copper add a warm, inviting tone to your bath, while nickel, chrome and stainless steel are slick, trendy options. For a more classic look, try white, gold or black. Regardless of your pick, choose a finish that matches your bathroom hardware to ensure a cohesive design. 

Where should I place my bathroom lighting?

In order to avoid unwanted shadows that make bathroom grooming difficult, it’s essential to get the placement right when installing your lights. If you have a small bathroom, such as a powder room, it’s possible that light from one source will be sufficient. Cut down on shadows and create even lighting by installing a strip light above the mirror instead of a fixture or recessed lighting in the ceiling. Though that may create enough light, you may want to consider installing additional lights at the side of the mirror to further reduce shadows. In larger bathrooms, you may need a combination of mirror, shower (make sure it’s waterproof) and overhead lighting to appropriately light the entire space.

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