How to Properly Light a Bathroom
Our resident lighting expert reflects on the best way to bring a healthy glow to the marriage of two essential powder room partners: mirrors and lighting.
Fixtures mounted vertically on either side of the sink offer the most even illumination for your face.
Randall, our master bath mirror runs the entire length above the double-bowl (72-inch) countertop and under a light strip with those big, round incandescent bulbs. We want to replace that strip with a decorative fixture but realize this will give less light. Since I can access the open attic above, I was thinking of putting in some recessed halogen lights for additional task lighting. What do you think?
First, if you’re going to install recessed fixtures, use them only to highlight other walls—not over the sink area. This will create harsh shadows on the face and make it hard to apply makeup or shave. Use a recessed adjustable low voltage fixture and put it on a low voltage dimmer. This will have the smallest aperture and the most flexibility. Option 1: The best thing to do would be to install three light fixtures, mounted horizontally on the mirror at 5 feet, 6 inches from the floor and 1 foot, 6 inches on either side of the sinks (approximately 3 feet apart from each other). This spacing can be modified a bit, based on how far apart the two sinks are from each other. If the sinks are very far apart, you’ll need two pairs of sconces for even cross-illumination at each sink. Put them on a dimmer, so you can have less light when brushing your teeth and more light when doing heavy-duty beauty treatments, like spackling. This solution would require replacing the existing mirror, though. Option 2: Hang pendant fixtures from the ceiling, so they are 5 feet, 6 inches from the floor and spaced evenly between the sinks. Use two or three pairs of pendants based on the sink spacing. These, too, should be on a dimmer. This scenario would not require replacing the existing mirror. Option 3: The bare-bulb light strip you have is quite glarey. You could replace it with a fixture that has a frosted glass casing to provide more diffuse light. You could use two 3-foot units to create a run of 72 inches. Put them on a dimmer, too. It would not require replacing the existing mirror. This is the least effective of the options, but one you could do yourself.
Randall Whitehead, IALD
Latest from ask randall
This is a challenging question that may require a bit of compromise. To keep the cooler hues appearing crisp and white, you need to select a color... read full story
First off, I'm very glad that you are using a pair of sconces flanking the mirror. You don’t want fixtures that point light up or down, but instead... read full story
I wasn’t immediately familiar with the CE listing, but I’ve done my research. This is a label used in European countries and is applied to products... read full story
This is a little bit of a challenging situation. You want to have a fixture that you can’t look inside of easily — we don’t want to see the bulbs... read full story
Sponsored by Legrand and Bulbrite. Wednesday, October 5 at 2 p.m. EDT Register for this free CEU webinar here. Webinar Overview:Learning units:AIA/CES LU (HSW) 1.0... read full story
This webinar has already taken place, but you can still watch it on demand by registering here. Sponsored by Emerson and Legrand. Webinar Overview: Learning units:AIA/... read full story
This webinar has already taken place, but you can still watch it on demand by registering here. Webinar Overview:Learning units:AIA/CES LU (HSW) 1.0 Learning UnitIDCEC (IIDA/... read full story