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Unlike a chandelier, which has multiple lightbulbs suspended from the ceiling, pendant lights have a single lightbulb, also suspended from the ceiling. They look great, but are they the best light to have over your bathroom vanity?
Pendant lights work well for bathroom vanities. Pendant lights have a simple look that can be easily changed and modified to one’s personal tastes. The simplicity of pendant lights makes them attractive in smaller rooms, such as bathrooms, and creates good lighting for bathroom tasks.
Many decisions go into installing pendants lights above a bathroom vanity, including where the lights should be placed, how low they should be suspended, and the basics of how to hang these lights. Keep reading to learn more!
Where Should Pendant Lights Be Placed in a Bathroom?
Every bathroom is different, but there are a few common and popular ways to hang pendant lights:
- Center of the ceiling of a small bathroom
- Center of a vaulted ceiling
- Above the vanity/mirrors
- To the side of the vanity/mirrors
- Above the bathtub
- Low-traffic areas
Feel free to hang your pendant lights in the center of the ceiling, especially if the bathroom is small and there isn’t any other creative or convenient place to put them. On that note, if there is a bathroom with a vaulted ceiling, the best place for a pendant light to be hung is on the center beam. This will give your room balanced light and let the light reach out to fill the entire bathroom.
Pendant lights can also be installed right above the vanity. People often hang pendant lights so the bottoms of the lights hang right above the vanity mirror. However, there are also bathrooms where the lights are hung in front of the mirrors, so this is really a personal decision, whether you find it attractive or annoying. If having the naked bulb in the mirror is bothersome, then hang it far above the vanity.
How to Position Lights Relative to the Vanity and Mirror
When the pendant lights are hung above the vanity mirror, they help you to be able to accomplish whatever it is that you do at the vanity, such as hair and makeup. When lights help you do a specific task, they are appropriately called “task-lights,” or “task-lighting.” Pendant lights hung above the vanity make for great tasks lights because they light up your face, allowing you to easily see yourself in the mirror.
Pendant lights can be hung over the vanity in multiple ways, depending on your preference. One pendant light can be hung directly over the mirror and in the middle of the vanity, or multiple pendant lights could be hung in a line over the vanity.
A third option would be to place the pendant lights to the side of the vanity or the mirror. Preferably, the bottoms of the lights should not hang below the top of the mirror.
And remember, the pendant lights hung over your vanity should not be the only source of light in your bathroom.
For more light fixture options above the vanity, read the post Up or Down? Why Sconce Direction Matters.
9 Types of Pendant Lights
Luckily for you, there are many different types of pendant lights you can hang over your bathroom vanity. They are called:
- Chandelier pendants
- Cord pendants
- Down Light pendants
- Encased pendants
- Globe pendants
- Inverted/Bowl pendants
- Lantern pendants
- Linear pendants
- Multi-light pendants
Chandelier Pendant Lights
Chandelier pendant lights are best placed above the bathtub or just in the middle of the bathroom. This type of pendant lighting is most effective with high ceilings because they can provide a main source of lighting for the bathroom.
Cord Pendant Lights
Cord pendant lights are simply light bulbs hanging down, providing light. They can also be used as cluster pendants if one desires, that could provide brilliant light for any type of bathroom—large, small, or half bath. Edison bulbs or other designer bulbs work well for exposed pendant lights. Cord pendant lights can be used to create a minimalist or industrial look.
Down Light Pendant Lights
Down Light pendant lights are lights that have shades covering the bulbs. The bottom of the lamp is open and shines down to the floor. These particular pendants work very well if placed right above a vanity, and provide a great source of light for task lighting, as they focus the light on the vanity and not the whole bathroom.
To learn more about vanity lighting and fixtures, read the post How to Choose the Best Bathroom Vanity Lights.
Encased Pendant Lights
Encased pendant lights can serve either as vanity lighting or as the main source of light. These pendants have a bulb that is encased in a covering. This could be frosted glass that provides a soft light, clear glass that provides all the light the room needs, or cages made out of metal.
Globe Pendant Lights
Globe pendant lights are similar to encased pendants, only they have a particular circular shape—aka, they are spherical and look like a globe. However, they can take this shape in any type of encasement, just like encased pendants. They can use frosted glass, clear glass, or other different and fancier designs.
Inverted Pendant Lights
Inverted pendant lights, also known as bowl pendants, are basically the opposite of down light pendants. They are in the shape of a bowl, which causes the light in those bowls to be reflected onto the ceiling. This is great for your bathroom if you want your pendant lights to illuminate the ceiling and not cast shadows on your face.
Lantern Pendant Lights
Lantern pendant lights are reminiscent of old New England. Rectangular or hexagonal, they are glass encased with wrought iron trim (and so are a type of encased pendant light.) Lantern pendant lights provide a vintage look. Because the bulb is enclosed in glass rather than a shade, you can hang a lantern pendant in the center of the bathroom for ample illumination.
Linear Pendant Lights
Linear pendant lights can come in various forms, the two most popular being either a long line of hanging lights, or one line of encased lighting. Not only do linear pendant lights come in different forms, but also different styles, such as modern or traditional.
Multi-light pendants are comprised of a cluster of lights bound together by a central core or rose. They can be placed anywhere in the bathroom, and they provide a good amount of light along with a dramatic flair.
Remember, if you choose to hang multiple pendant lights above your vanity, it’s best to hang them in odd numbers. Three or five pendant lights are preferable.
How Low Should Pendant Lights Hang?
Pendant lights can be hung in many different places, but they always need to be high enough to be out of the way so no one hits their head! Leave 30 to 40 inches of space between the bottom of the pendant light when it’s hung up and the top of the bathroom vanity.
Or, if hanging a pendant light above a bathtub, you’ll need at least 8 feet of clearance from the top rim of the tub to the bottom of the pendant light to meet the requirements set out in the US National Electric Code. (Be sure to ead my post about how to safely install bathroom fixtures, bulbs and smart lights.)
Pendant lights work the best when placed right above or possibly to the sides of the mirrors of the vanities. However, this completely depends on how big the vanity is and how much space the person has to move without fear of knocking their head on the light and breaking something.
Keep in mind as the pendant lights are installed that sightlines need to be considered, especially if the lights are installed in front of the mirror or above a kitchen table or countertop.
If there are multiple pendant lights in any area, the bathroom included, the lights should be spaced out evenly. Meaning, that if five pendant lamps are seven inches in diameter, then those lights should be spaced at least seven inches apart. The reason why the lights need to be spaced the same as the diameter is because it creates good lighting for those situated underneath the vanity.
How Do You Hang Pendant Lights in a Bathroom?
It is relatively easy to install pendant lights in a bathroom, which is one of the reasons why so many people do it. To install pendant lights in a bathroom, follow these instructions.
What You Will Need:
- Wire stripper/cutter
- Measuring tape
- Pendant light
- Wire nuts (will likely come with the pendant light.)
Step One: For every home, there is going to be an electrical/distribution panel that is basically the source of all electricity in the house. Before installing anything in any room, turn off the power. The power could also be referred to as the breaker switch. Turn it off. If the power is not turned off, the risk of electrifying yourself increases dramatically. To be extra safe, double-check that it’s turned off by using a voltage tester or electrical current detector. (Source)
Step Two: Remove the old light. All you need to do to remove the light is twist the light off and screw off the ceiling cap attached to it. Once removed, the junction box will appear before your eyes. (Source)
Step Three: Attach the crossbar (also known as the mounting bracket) to the junction box. The crossbar should come with the package of the pendant light. This provides support for the pendant light, so make sure it’s screwed in straight.
Double-check to make sure the pendant light is the length you want. If not, adjust it if needed or reorder the light. Don’t go through the whole installation process and then suddenly realize that it was all for nothing because it’s not the right distance from the ceiling.
Step Four: Feed the electrical wire through the pendant light’s rod. This connects the electricity from the junction box all the way down to the lightbulb.
Step Five: Attach pendant rod to the ceiling cap. The ceiling cap is what will be attached to the ceiling/junction box. The wires from the rod also need to be threaded through the ceiling cap, because if the wires are not threaded through, they won’t reach the junction box, and the junction box needs those wires so electricity can flow from it to the pendant light that you are installing.
Step Six: Connect electrical wires to the light. So, the wires that are poking out from the ceiling cap have to be connected to the wires up in the junction box. Once those are connected, step seven can commence.
Step Seven: Close the junction box. The way to do this is to screw in that ceiling cap to the ceiling.
Step Eight: Test the light. Screw in the lightbulb, and turn the power back on, now that you’re free from the risk of being electrocuted. Make sure the light works. If it does, then you’re done! But if not, then most likely it’s the wiring that’s having trouble getting to the electricity.
In case you’re not comfortable working with wires, lights, and electricity, definitely call an electrician or handyman to install your pendant lights for you.
How to Use Pendant Lights to Create a Mood
Master carpenter Michael Rieger discusses how pendant lights can help create a mood:
“It’s all about the type of light and the correct temperature balance to a light fixture, by adding in elements like a few pendant lights with the under cabinet lighting, or overhead can lighting, you can create a dynamic environment that offers lighting options for different moods or times of day.”
But there’s a lot more to lighting a bathroom than just choosing the fixture. You also want to select the right bulbs to achieve your desired ambiance. You can choose smart bulbs that respond to voice commands. And you can choose a color temperature that will help you achieve the sort of glow you want.
For much more on how to choose the right color temperature read my post The Best Color Temperature for YOUR Bathroom Lighting. There’s a ton of useful information in here that will help you get exactly the look you’re after.
So Are Pendant Lights Good for a Bathroom Vanity?
Pendant lights are a great choice for the bathroom vanity. With so many decorative options, you can get the style you want while also providing great task lighting.
To discover other options for bathroom lighting and get top product picks, check out 7 Types of Bathroom Lighting to Make You Say WOW!
Pro tip: If you’re about to embark on a bathroom remodel, be sure to get my Save Big $$$ Cheat Sheet. You’ll get designer hacks that can literally save you thousands of dollars. Just fill out the form below.