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Publication Date: 2018-05-18

Design Insights

7 Must-Read Tips on Choosing Bathroom Lighting

The process of choosing lighting for a bathroom design can be overwhelming. The vanity, tub area and shower all require different lighting choices, but the bathroom's overall design still needs to feel stylish and cohesive. To determine the best approach, we invited the pros at Hudson Valley Lighting to share their top pointers for outfitting a bathroom with light fixtures. 

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Design: Cecilia Walker Designs; Photo: Sarah Winchester

1. Consider Side-Mounted Sconces

Side-mounted sconces are one of the best lighting options for a bathroom. Whether one is used on either side of a mirror or mounted onto a mirror directly with shades placed at eye-level, there are a few factors to take into account:

- Mount the backplate of a vertical, tube-shaped fixture at eye-level.
- The shade opening of glass down-lights should sit slightly below eye-level.
- The shade opening of glass up-lights should sit slightly above eye-level.
- If your mirror is centered above the sink, mount fixtures just a few inches to the left and right of the mirror. It should be as close to your face as possible.

Design: Heather Draper, The Heather Company; Photo: Lindsay Nichols

2. Plan for Layers of Light

Any bathroom can benefit from three layers of light to enhance the beauty of the space. To ensure that light is distributed evenly, opt for a combination of ambient light in the form of chandeliers, pendants or flush mounts, a second layer — task lighting that's ideal for daily grooming activities like applying makeup or shaving — and a third layer, accent lighting, which is designed to highlight the bathroom's architectural features and decor.  

Design: Centered by Design; Photo: Todd Crawford Photography

3. Use Pendants as an Alternative

For an alternative to sconces, consider pendants. They're an elegant lighting option for a vanity, but can also function as ambient or accent lighting if necessary. 

Design: Amy Storm; Photo: Picture Perfect House

4. Stick to Similar Finishes 

While it's not necessary for the style of sconces to match overhead fixtures, it's best to keep them in the same finish family to maintain unity in the bathroom's overall design. 

Design: Amy Storm; Photo: Picture Perfect House

5. Remember the Tub Area

A sconce is the perfect solution for creating a special ambiance for a tub area. It adds to the soothing atmosphere that can be difficult to achieve with an overhead fixture.

Design: Grayscale Design

6. Choose Brass or Chrome for Versatility

When it comes to finishes, brass and chrome are the most versatile, as they can easily complement other bath accessories. 

Design: Rachel Cannon LTD Interiors; Photo: Jessie Preza

7. A Fixture's Size Matters

Depending on the size and style of a bathroom, a pendant light or chandelier can make it feel palatial. The right fixture can make a statement and set the tone for the bathroom's design. 

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