lighting trends

How to Light a Bathroom

Though the bathroom is not used as often as, say, the living room or the kitchen, lighting it properly is still in your best interest. Providing good, flattering light in every room of the house is important—especially when you’re getting ready to go out and want to make sure you look your best, or if you’re using your bathroom as a minor triage unit for treating small cuts, scrapes and other boo-boos. Here’s how lighting can help your bathroom help you.

The Basics

How to Light a Bathroom

First, consider the temperature of your lights. No, that doesn’t mean how hot a bulb feels when you touch it. In this case, color temperature refers to how white a light source is. The Kelvin temperature scale is used to measure color temperature. Light sources that produce a bluish-white light will have a higher color temperature and their yellowish-white light counterparts have a lower color temperature. For the best lighting experience in your bathroom, look for high color temperatures in your bulbs.

Bulbs are also rated on their ability to be as true to daylight as they can be. That’s called the color rendering index, or CRI, rating. In the bathroom, you want to look great and get the truest color rendering you can--especially for tasks like shaving, putting on makeup and seeing the hue of your teeth in the best light--so you will want to look for bulbs with high CRIs and high color temperatures. For artificial lighting sources, a CRI of 85 to 90 is great. The highest score, 100, is just for daylight because that’s the ideal source of light. Click here for more information about color temperatures and rendering, including a visual example of how the right light makes you look best.

Ambient lighting that bounces light off the ceiling of a bathroom is extremely flattering. It softens shadows and can even make you look younger. Another way to look great in the bathroom mirror is to include natural light, which can be difficult sometimes based on where bathrooms are placed in the house, but try adding a small (frosted glass!) window or a skylight if possible. Also, the strategic placement of lights can create the illusion of a larger bathroom if you have a small space and can’t do much about it structurally.

The Methods 

If you want to move away from the old-school way of lighting a bathroom by putting a row of lights above the mirror, try mounting sconces or pendants next to the mirror instead. Think about looking at sconces or pendants finished with pewter, nickel and brass or matching the color to your other bathroom fixtures. Some sconces even have adjustable arms to give you light where you need it most and others look like candles, but won’t burn down your house.

Think of it this way: just using a row of lights above the mirror to light your bathroom is not exactly flattering. It lights up some areas, but not others, which won’t help you when you really need all the light you can get.

If you do prefer the way a row of lights looks in your bathroom, there are still a lot of choices that will look great and endure for years to come instead of falling by the wayside and immediately looking outdated. Still, if you go this route, do combine the over-the-mirror light with other sources of illumination as well. Again, it’s for your benefit!

For a glamorous experience, try putting in a chandelette, also known as a mini chandelier. Not all chandeliers are massive statement pieces meant for entryways or large rooms--chandelettes are a great idea for any space! Plus, not all chandelettes are created equal. Many of them follow trends like modern, minimal, organic and so on, so you’re sure to find a chandelette that fits your décor perfectly. Remember: the higher a fixture is hung, the smaller it appears, and chandeliers should be hung about seven feet above the floor of the room.

No matter how big or small your bathroom is, you can find lighting solutions to make it the best it can be. The National Association of Home Builders has noticed that homeowners are making bathroom renovations a top priority, so implementing good lighting is a very important part of making sure you get the best bathroom for your buck.

If you need more advice or are ready to get started, click here to browse Lights Online's bathroom lighting solutions or contact our lighting specialists at 1-866-688-3562.

Emma Harger - Lights Online

Top of Page