How To Select Bathroom Vanity Lighting When Renovating

Getting Bathroom Vanity Lighting Right When Renovating a Master Bath

Today, a luxurious bathroom is one of the top remodeling requests among homeowners. The bathroom is one of the most used rooms in every home. It's the central hub for many of our most important self-care rituals and a part of our daily routine. It's where we prepare in the morning for work, where we relax in the tub after a long day, and is often the last room we visit at night before bed.

When you think of a luxurious bathroom renovation often your thoughts often go to elements your seeking like the beautiful marble topped double vanity, the elegant multiple head shower or the stand alone soaking tub. One area of your design that you may not have focused on is your bathroom's vanity lighting.

Creating a Lighting Plan

In order to live up to its full potential, your designer will develop a multi-faceted lighting plan. A successful plan has multiple light sources, including overhead and task lighting with a focus on the lighting around the vanity and mirror.

A successful lighting plan at the bathroom vanity should include fixtures that provide adequate lighting, placed in the appropriate locations to create a natural glow, while being the appropriate style and size for the overall bathroom layout and design. Fixtures should be installed at the proper height and the proper distance from each other. Properly placing vanity lighting minimizes the potential for unflattering shadows being cast which is important when applying makeup, shaving and grooming.

When you finish your plan, you'll have a variety of options to choose from that will cover task lighting, overhead lighting and ambient or mood lighting.

Choosing the Right Bathroom Vanity Lighting

Wall-mounted fixtures or sconces are a very popular choice for the bathroom vanity. They are stylish, beautiful and highly functional. Generally, they don't take up a lot of physical or visual space in your design.

While these lights come in various forms, they should be chosen specifically for bathroom use. They should be able to handle a higher wattage bulb than for example a sconce designed for a hallway, or an intimate dining room.

In the bathroom, it's important that the fixture lights not only the space, but properly lights your face. You'll be using your vanity area for grooming, shaving and applying makeup. It's function is as task lighting as opposed to mood or ambient lighting. As a result, sconces are typically hung in pairs, one on each side of the mirror. A pair of sconces will evenly light your face creating a more natural light and eliminating harsh shadows that can make applying makeup difficult.

To get the most functionality, choose a fixture with an opaque shade that completely blocks the light from traveling forward. This will diffuse the light rather than broadcasting the light throughout the room.

Placement of Your Bathroom Vanity Lighting

When using sconces as your bathroom vanity lighting, the primary place to hang them is on either side of the bathroom mirror. The American Lighting Association's general guidelines are to mount sconces 65 to 70 inches from the floor, about at eye level. This allows for the most natural lighting, with no dark shadows. Ideally, they should be placed about 28 to 30 inches apart, but this depends on the size and physical configuration of the room and your design. If you are installing them above the mirror, the typical height is about 78 inches.

If you are installing the fixtures near a tub or shower, look for fixtures and styles with a “damp rating”. This will allow you to place them near a shower or bath safely.

Sconces are typically hung in pairs, but if your bathroom doesn't allow for proper placement of two, a single sconce can by hung over the mirror. Another situation where you might choose to hang multiple  sconces above the mirror is if your design features a wide mirror over a double vanity.

Your vanity lighting is an important element of your bathroom renovation. The best solution is to work with your designer and contractor. They can offer you a wide range of options to fit your personal style. Your contractor will also make sure that your bathroom lighting is properly installed to make preparing for work or an evening on the town a pleasure. 


Forward Design Build is a residential design-build firm in Ann Arbor, Michigan that is known for its commitment to craftsmanship and communication. We are committed to improving our neighbors quality of life with inspired design and creative remodeling. Our homes are highly functional, exquisitely beautiful, and remarkably comfortable. Contact us to speak with an expert about your new home or remodeling project.