Though we rarely think about bathroom lighting as much as we do the lighting in our living room, kitchen or foyer, it’s important to create a lighting scheme in the water closet that’s as functional and stylish as the rest of your home. The last thing you want is bathroom lights that feel harsh and unflattering like the ones regrettably found in many public bathrooms. Instead, you need light that’s suitable for tasks like shaving, applying makeup and getting ready as well as accent lights that highlight the best parts about your washroom sanctuary.

Kichler Millwright Bath 3-Light

Pictured: Kichler Millwright Bath 3-Light and Kichler Millwright 1-Light Wall Sconce

How Bathroom Light Fixtures Are Different

The first thing you need to know about bathroom light fixtures is that they differ from lights found in the rest of your home. They are different in two primary ways–function (what and where they light) and performance (their ability to withstand damp and wet environments). You’ll find bathroom lights made specifically for installation above or on either side of the vanity. These lights, sometimes called vanity lighting strips, are usually linear with between two and five lamps each. They are specifically designed to supply task lighting around your mirror.

Kichler Waverly Bath Vanity Light

The Kichler Waverly Bath Vanity Light is one of our most popular four-light bathroom vanity light fixtures.

Wet and Damp Location Bathroom Lights

With the exception of the vanity light, bathroom light fixtures mostly look like the wall or ceiling lights in the rest of your home. There are things that differentiate them from lights for other rooms, though. Bathroom lights should be wet or damp rated, meaning they are safe to install in areas that may be regularly exposed to moisture, condensation and humidity, like the bathroom. Wet location lights are for, well…wet locations, like the shower. You should install damp location light fixtures in bathroom areas outside the shower, as these fixtures will be exposed to plenty of moisture themselves.

Quick Tips for Finding the Right Lights

If you’re creating a bath lighting design for the first time, let us help you with some useful bathroom lighting tips to get you started.

ET2 Blossom Bath Vanity Light

Flanking the mirror with one-light vanity lights, like the ET2 Blossom Bath Vanity Light, can prevent harsh glares and shadows.

  • Cross-Illumination Is Key—To ensure that you get shadow-free task lighting in the mirror, flank your mirror with damp location sconces. This strategy, called cross-illumination, creates even lighting without shadows, which is ideal for shaving, applying makeup and other bathroom tasks.
  • Layer, Layer, Layer—We know that task lighting is important in the bathroom, but it’s also important to integrate ambient and accent lighting in the bathroom, too. Layering these elements helps prevent a harsh, utilitarian feel and also makes the washroom versatile enough for more than just grooming in the mirror.
  • Know Your Lumens—Of course, it makes sense to buy LED bathroom fixtures that lower costs and energy consumption. But, with brightness such an important facet of bathroom lighting, it helps to know how bright (how many lumens) you need. In a relatively small bathroom, you should aim for between 3,000 and 4,000 lumens across all fixtures.
  • Know Your Color Temperature—Another thing to know about LED lighting is that it comes in several different colors (rated as Kelvins). Lower Kelvins correspond to warmer (yellowish) light, while higher Kelvins correspond to cooler (blue) light. Many people find high-Kelvin LEDs too harsh for the bathroom, but you don’t want to go too warm for task lighting, so finding a good balance is key. Daylight (the tone that mimics natural light) is a popular color temp in bathrooms, especially if they serve as getting ready areas.
  • Use Ceiling Lights Sensibly—Bathroom ceiling lights are a great way to bring broad, general lighting to the bathroom, which is important no matter how large or small your space. But overhead lights can be harsh, unflattering and uneven, so make sure you don’t install them so they’re directly over your head when you’re looking in the mirror.
  • Go for Glass—It should go without saying, but it often doesn’t make sense to install bathroom lights with fabric shades, especially if they will constantly be exposed to moisture. Instead, opt for fixtures with glass shades that can handle some wetness.

Kichler 8102NI Flush Mount Ceiling Light

Avoid installing ceiling lights that glow directly downward onto your face. The Kichler 8102NI Flush Mount Ceiling Light is a great option for dry bathrooms.

Talk to Lighting Experts

If you need one-on-one advice on how to light your bathroom like a pro, the experts at Hansen Wholesale are always available to assist. We offer a unique Shop with an Expert option that allows you to browse our online catalog alongside a skilled lighting pro. Give us a call today for personalized lighting advice!