How to Light a Bathroom


Too often lighting a bathroom is low on the list of priorities relative to other rooms in the house. But with bathrooms becoming larger and more elaborate, proper bathroom lighting design is essential to making the most of the space. Read our bathroom lighting guide for the latest bathroom lighting ideas and bathroom lighting tips to guide you on your way.

Metro Vanity Light by Tech Lighting

Metro Vanity Light by Tech Lighting

Start With the Ceiling and Vanity Lighting, Then Work Your Way Down.

First, you’ll want to decide between flush mount ceiling lighting for the bathroom or recessed lighting overhead for general illumination. You’ll also want to light the vanity area with some excellent bathroom task lighting, which can be a bathroom vanity fixture above the mirror or bath bars or bathroom sconces on either side. And you need to light the shower and tub area. You might also consider undercabinet strip lighting for bathroom vanities or lighted mirrors for the bathroom that have lighting integrated into the bathroom vanity mirror, which is clean space-saving look.

Lofty Vanity Light from Varaluz

Lofty Vanity Light from Varaluz

How Much Lighting You Need for a Bathroom

Ample overhead and task lighting are key. You can add track lighting for the bathroom that accomplishes both. But bathrooms are now a room in the house where people are spending a lot more time, so you’ll also want the ability to create an atmosphere that’s relaxing and spa–like. Having flexibility to adjust the lighting is really important, which is why you should add dimmers here just like you do throughout the house. You also want to think of the warm light for the bathroom versus cool light for the bathroom, based on the Color Rendering Index (CRI). Bathrooms often require brighter, white light for better visibility and a bright and clean feel.

Monocle Wall Sconce by Rich Brilliant Willing

Recessed Lighting for the Bathroom

For bathroom recessed lighting you’ll want 2-inch – 3.5-inch trim size and 700-1200 Lumens per light at 2700-3000K color temperature. Go with narrow or spot beam and a spread of 2’ to 3’ of space between each light. People often have a tendency to pop a bunch of extra can lights into the ceiling to make sure the bathroom is bright enough, but then you end up with a ceiling that looks like Swiss cheese. Everything in moderation. Though, don’t make the mistake of under-lighting your bathroom, because ample lighting is important. Another reason dimmers are key.

Cosmo Wall Sconce by Tech Lighting

Cosmo Wall Sconce by Tech Lighting from Blackjack Lighting

Hanging Lights in the Bathroom

You should avoid light pointing directly down on your head because it will be harsh and unflattering. Instead, position your ceiling light over the walkway area so you’re lit from behind rather than directly in front of the vanity. Asymmetrical lighting is another mistake. Placing a fixture on just one side of your mirror will create uneven illumination and make grooming difficult. Lastly, clear bulbs with filaments are popular these days, but they cast a shadow on everything. Go for something opaque or frosted instead.


Grid Bath Light from Blackjack Lighting


Shower and Bathtub Lighting Tips.

People often think one fixture is fine here, but you usually need two. Equal lighting at both ends of a tub is best. With a shower that’s 3×3 ft. or 3×4 ft. you can get away with one fixture, but if it’s larger you’ll need more. And unlike the vanity area, for safety you should not place lighting directly over where you stand in the shower. Also make sure to use wet-rated lighting for the shower and places that get direct moisture or damp-rated lighting for bathroom areas that get indirect moisture.


Grid Bath Light from Blackjack Lighting

Grid Bath Light from Blackjack Lighting

Say Y-E-S to LED Lighting for the Bathroom

Not only are LEDs energy–saving and convenient because you don’t have to replace the bulbs for years, but they are minimal in appearance so you can get a more clean–lined, modern look in the bathroom. Plus, today’s LEDs have more wattage and the light quality is a lot warmer than before, which means you have a more cohesive look when combining them with incandescent bulbs. In addition to LEDs, we love an MR-16 bulb. It works with low-voltage recessed fixtures and gives off crisp, clear light—up to 75 watts—but it’s dimmable, so it’s really versatile.

Need more Inspiration? Take a look at our Bathroom Lighting Ideas.


Bathroom Lighting

Here's a Glimpse of Some of YLighting's Most Popular Bathroom Lighting Fixtures: