Skip to Content

Dos and Don’ts of Bathroom Lighting

April 14, 2017

When lighting a bathroom keep these helpful tips in mind 16001529 40041276 0 14088867 500


Bathrooms are unique – and often challenging – spaces to illuminate: Ideally, you want to maximize warm, soft, natural light as much as possible to make the space feel inviting. At the same time, preserving privacy and functionality means you can’t always utilize light from windows. Check out the following bathroom lighting Dos and Don’ts to make sure you are making the most of the room:

DO Flank the Bathroom Mirror With Lights
While an overhead or ceiling light can provide more comprehensive illumination, the lighting demands of grooming and personal hygiene are different. When looking in a mirror, you want direct lighting that minimizes shadows or splotches, allowing you to see yourself clearly. For this reason, always install lighting around a mirror so that you have an unobstructed, fully-illuminated view.

DON’T Add a Light Above the Mirror 
At the same time, a single overhead light positioned right above a mirror, no matter how bright, isn’t flattering or functional, said lighting designer Randall Whitehead.

“That would throw a strong light onto your forehead and cast deep shadows below your eyes, nose and chin,” Whitehead said. “Not only is this light ineffective for shaving or applying makeup, it can visually age you by 10 years. People should look their best when they look at their reflection.”

Bathroom illumination is crucialBathroom illumination is crucial.

DON’T Create Uneven Illumination
While many try to create a relaxing or spa-like atmosphere in their bathrooms, using recessed or underpowered lights in a bathroom, according to San Francisco–based designer Geoffrey De Sousa, can result in a bathroom seeming underlit or casting unflattering shadows.

“Another problem is when people install too many recessed fixtures so the ceiling looks like a sea of black holes,” De Sousa told YLighting. “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.”

DO Put Lights on Dimmers
For homeowners looking for flexibility in their bathroom lighting, De Sousa recommended that dimmers can make the room more functional and inviting. These dimmers, combined with energy efficient LED lights, can also reduce your power consumption when you use the bathroom.

DON’T Ignore The Bulbs You Use
The kind of bulbs you use in your lighting fixtures don’t just have an impact on how much energy you consume, they also render color in unique ways. Lumens spelled out a few of the most common bulbs used in bathroom lighting and their various qualities, including:

  • Incandescent, which cast a warm or cool white light.
  • Compact Fluorescent, which, when paired with a Color Rendering Index over 90, displays colors in a way that simulates daylight.
  • LEDs, which consume less electricity, last longer and are more easily dimmable.

Lumens recommended that each bulb should have an ideal color temperature is between 2700K and 3000K. De Sousa added one of his favorite bulbs for use in bathrooms is the 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,” said De Sousa.

DO Consider All Elements Before Installing a Chandelier 
Chandeliers can be a beautiful, classically-inspired way to add illumination and elegance to a bathroom – but they can also be challenging. As This Old House points out, chandeliers require proper clearance, must be U.L. rated for moisture and protected with a ground-fault circuit interrupter to limit the risk of shocks. For bathrooms without the high ceilings required for safety, This Old House suggests installing decorative candle fixtures instead of a chandler.

Visit Wolseley Studio in Calgary or Kitchen & Bath showrooms in Lethbridge, Saskatoon or Regina and explore our wide selection of bathroom lighting fixtures. You’ll be inspired to take your water closet to new heights of beauty and elegance with the help of our knowledgeable staff.

<< Back to blog

Book an appointment!

In-store shopping is available with limited capacity. We strongly recommend booking an appointment, as we have limited time slots available.