How to Choose Bathroom Vanity Lights
Today's luxurious bathrooms demand adequate bathroom vanity lighting. It's not just about achieving the right light quality or amount--it's also important to choose a vanity light with a style that makes a statement and complements your existing fixtures and decor.
As the first element that many people notice in any bathroom, bath vanity lighting is a critical part of any remodeling project. A few things to consider when selecting vanity lighting include the size, finish, bulb type and design style. Here are 4 helpful tips on choosing vanity lighting that will function beautifully in your home for many years. In fact, did you know that when people buy bathroom vanity lights, they tend to keep them for about a decade (according to consumer research conducted by the American Lighting Association)? That makes it all the more important to choose the right bath vanity lights!
Choosing the right size
Bath light bars, which are the basic type of bath vanity lights, typically come in two-, three- and four-light versions to suit small and large rooms alike. While you want to ensure you have plenty of light, be sure to choose one that is no wider than your vanity or cabinet width, which may be wider than your mirror.
Most people choose vanities that are about 75 percent of the mirror's total length. When using bath bars, mount them high off the floor (78 inches is recommended) and center with the cabinet for a clean, finished look. If you have a very long vanity or double sink setup, you may want to consider using more than one of the same bath bar to get the job done.
However, another option is to use sconces in place of or in addition to a bath bar, as seen in the photo below. Using sconces alone is a nice option for rooms with small mirrors. Place one sconce on either side of the mirror at least 28 inches apart from one another and 60 inches up from the floor. Sconces are often recommended because they increase the amount of usable light in the room, making it even easier to see yourself in the mirror! They can also add even more style to any bathroom.
Another option still is to hang matching pendant lights instead of the sconces flanking a mirror. In that case, the pendants are suspended from the ceiling instead of the floor, but the same proximity guideline for sconce placement (28 inches) is a good rule of thumb here too.
Choosing the right finish
Your bathroom vanity light's finish can, but does not have to, coordinate with the existing faucets and fixtures in your bathroom. If your fixtures have a shiny look, go for polished nickel or chrome finishes. Brushed nickel finishes work well with brushed bath fixtures. Other finishes that are very popular in lighting and bath fixture design are antique brass and bronze.
Rule #1: Never use exposed bulbs in the bathroom! To achieve a flattering light and increase comfort (imagine looking over while lounging in the bath and being temporarily blinded by bare bulbs in your bath bar! Ouch!), choose a fixture with frosted or opal glass. Most of today's bath bars and bath lighting options have these types of glass. Also, you can even buy light bulbs that are coated, dipped or have frosted glass for an even and flattering effect, especially if you do choose a fixture where the bulbs are exposed.
Compact fluorescent bulbs or even LED bulbs can be used in place of standard bulbs in nearly any bathroom. Fluorescent or LED lighting is ideal for bathrooms because both choices emit much less heat than incandescent lighting, last longer and save energy.
Increasing the amount of light in the bathroom is also especially ideal for older eyes. People who are over 65 years old need four times more light as their under-25 counterparts to see properly, according to the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America.
Choosing the style
This is the fun and easiest part: choose bath vanity lighting that fits your personality. Is your bathroom luxurious and full of detail? Traditional would probably be best for you. Contemporary style is best for minimalists while transitional strikes the perfect balance between the traditional and the current. Of course, you can always choose to follow a theme like coastal, Mission, Art Deco and so on!
A current, widespread trend is the spa look. People want their bathrooms to be their own private inner sanctums and look to high-end hotels and spas for inspiration. Clean lines, sleek fixtures and the use of sconces along with bath bars are all hallmarks of spa style.
Browse all of our stylish bathroom vanity lights to find the perfect fixture for your project. Need more help? Contact us or call 1-866-688-3562 to talk to our trained lighting specialists for more advice. You can also sign up for our newsletters.
Emma Harger-Young - Lights Online