Best Bathroom Lighting | 5 Easy Steps


Using the best lighting for your bathroom can make all the difference. The right light can transform a small, cramped bathroom into a bright, airy space, while the wrong bathroom lighting could cause your perfectly designed space to look dim and dingy.   

The Best Lighting for Your Bathroom

So what’s the secret to achieving the best bathroom lighting? It boils down to following 5 easy steps:

  1. Use natural light.
  2. Layer light for both aesthetic and practical reasons
  3. Select the best fixtures for each layer of lighting.
  4. Choose the right type of light bulbs.
  5. Set the mood with color temperature 

In this post, I’ll show you exactly how to implement each of these steps to achieve a bathroom that works for you on a practical level — and on a design level, too!

1. Use Natural Lighting 

luxury bathroom vanity

Why is natural light so important? It’s vital for our well-being. Take it from me – someone who uprooted life in often-stormy Massachusetts to resettle in sunny Texas. Natural light has a great impact on our health and our productivity. 

Allowing natural light into our homes enhances our feelings of well-being, and we feel more energized.

If you’re lucky enough to have a bathroom window, by all means don’t cover it up completely. If your bathroom faces a neighbor or busy street, consider installing privacy glass, which allows you to maintain privacy but enjoy the light.

The best light is natural light because it is clear and even and allows you to spot any makeup flaws as they happen and will help you get a better shave.

Always place your vanity or makeup station near a window for good natural light. 

If you’re remodeling, consider adding a bathroom skylight. It can be a great way to bring light into a windowless bathroom and provide the natural light you need.

This said, I have no natural light in my bathroom. None at all! But I still have the ability to create an incredible ambiance for getting ready in the morning and winding down at the end of the day.

2. Layer Your Bathroom Lighting

Your bathroom lighting should be practical and fit in with your décor. To achieve this, you need at least 3 layers of light distributed throughout the room:

Light TypeFunction
Ambient/mood lightProvides enough light to light up the general space
Accent/statement lightingHighlights décor and features; Creates a “Wow!” factor
Task lightingProvides focused light for daily activities like grooming and shaving

3. Choose Several Different Types of Bathroom Fixtures

There is no better way to create the mood in the bathroom than by using a variety of bathroom lighting fixtures. Let’s look at the different types of bathroom fixtures that you can use for each of the three layers of bathroom lighting:

Ambient/Mood Lighting

See the beautiful Crystorama Six Light Chandelier from 1StopLighting
Lighting TypeLightUse
Ceiling fixturesFlush mount lightingInstalled overhead to light the space
Recessed lightingIlluminates corners and brightens up the space
ChandeliersCreates a focal point and provides light

Pendant lightsAdds style and ambiance
Wall fixturesWall sconcesUsed as mood or task lighting
Bath barsInstalled above or next to the mirror to create the mood
Night lightsProvides perfect light for the mood

Accent/Statement Lighting

Lighting TypeLightUse
Ceiling fixturesRecessed lightingTrim can match the décor
ChandeliersCreates a focal point or highlights details in the space
Pendant lightsAdds unique style
Wall fixturesWall sconcesHighlight décor and fixtures
Floor lampFreestandingProvides light and style

Task Lighting

Lighting TypeLightUse
CeilingRecessed lightingDirect the light where it’s required – generally adjustable
Pendant lightsDirect light over vanities
Wall fixturesSide mounted sconcesFrame your mirror and highlight your face
Vanity lightingFocused light where you need it
Shower lightingIlluminate your bath products
Lighted mirrorsSmart mirrorsOffers direct light and smart features like anti-fog technology

Pro tip: To create a truly custom feel, as you choose the best bathroom light fixtures for your space, consider mixing metal finishes in your bathroom.

4.Use Dimmable LED Light Bulbs

There are three basic types of light bulbs:

  • Fluorescent. Not the best, as the light provided hides your best features and highlights your flaws. Many people find this type of lighting hurts their eyes or gives them headaches. Steer clear of fluorescent lights!
  • Incandescent. This type of bulb is better as it emits warm white light, perfect for applying makeup or shaving, but incandescent bulbs also emit heat and have fixed temperature and color settings.
  • LED. These bulbs are energy-efficient and last six times longer than other bulb types. They often allow you to adjust the brightness and even the hue. Smart LED bulbs provide the most flexibility.

5. Set the Mood with Color Temperature

Light, color, and the temperature in a bathroom can change how we view the space. Lighting in a bathroom is the most important feature to set the mood.

Award-winning designer, Lisa Holt, says that the most important thing you can do in your bathroom is to maximize the lighting. She says:

“Bathrooms need to be places that you can really see well. The overall lighting palette should be bright. You want to be able to see dirt in this room. Ceiling lights should be as bright as you can get them.”

Color and light temperature affect mood and energy levels:

  • An extremely warm light might make you feel like you are at your grandmother’s house
  • A very cool light might make you feel like you are at the dentist

The color temperature of light is measured in degrees of Kelvin (K). A light source of a lower Kelvin degree will appear warmer, while a higher Kelvin degree will appear cooler. For example, candlelight is about 1,000K, household bulbs are around 3,000K, and daylight is around 6,500K.

The recommended Kelvin value for makeup application is 4800K – 5000k as it is not too cool or warm.

To reduce the amount of bright light in a bathroom, use a dimmer or a lower lumen level in your accent lighting light bulbs. This will allow you to control the light output without changing the color temperature.

Install Bathroom Fixtures Safely

Pendant Lights in the Bathroom

Bathrooms are the dampest rooms in the house thanks to steam and water droplets produced by bathers and shower takers, so how do you safely install bathroom fixtures?

Lightbulbs and light fixtures are rated for different humidity levels using a universal IP rating. Unlike other measurements, IP ratings are standard around the globe, so you know that your lightbulbs are safe regardless of where you buy them.

John Fisher, an electrician in Virginia, says:

“The IP rating of the fixture will be as or more important than the IP Rating for the bulbs because you never know what bulb will be installed in the fixture at some point down the road.”

As long as you understand the rating system, you can install light bulbs and fixtures in your bathroom without worry.

The benchmark for safe electrical inspection, design, and installation, is the National Electrical Code (NEC). Following the rules and regulations of the code will ensure the safe installation of your bathroom fixtures.

So What’s the Best Lighting for Your Bathroom?

Makeup application in good lighting

The best lighting for your bathroom is designed to maximize any natural light you might have. You use a variety of different types of fixtures to layer the lighting. And you create your desired mood by choosing LED bulbs with the right color temperature for your space.

Note: Are you about to embark on a bathroom remodel? Do you want designer hacks that can literally help you save thousands of dollars? Fill out the form below and I’ll send my Save Big $$$ Cheat Sheet straight to your inbox!

Shana

Shana Burg is a bath enthusiast, content strategist, and award-winning writer. She is the founder of bathtubber.com.

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