Proper lighting is crucial in any bathroom. The right lighting can make all the difference in how functional and aesthetically pleasing your bathroom is. When designing or upgrading your bathroom lighting, there are several key factors to consider.

Choosing the Right Types of Lighting

Your bathroom lighting design should incorporate multiple types of lighting for optimal illumination.

Ambient Lighting

This provides overall general lighting for the bathroom. Install ambient lighting on the ceiling – ideally centered to cast light evenly throughout the space. Flush mount fixtures and semi-flush ceiling lights work well.

Task Lighting

This highlights specific areas to aid in certain activities. Popular choices are vanity lighting around the mirror/medicine cabinet for grooming, undercabinet lighting to illuminate the countertop workspace, and shower/tub lighting. Wall sconces are great for task lighting too.

Accent Lighting

This adds a decorative touch. Accent lighting can spotlight architectural details or add a pop of color. Consider small accent lights over the tub or shower, above the toilet, or even inside glass cabinetry.

Factors to Consider in Bathroom Lighting

Choosing bathroom lighting requires careful planning both for aesthetic appeal and functionality.


Bathrooms need ample illumination for tasks like grooming and cleaning. Provide enough brightness with layers of lighting – ambient, task, and accent. At minimum, ambient light fixtures should provide 50-100 watts of cumulative lighting.

Color Temperature

Look for warm white light (2700K-3000K color temperature) to create a relaxing spa-like environment. Cool white light (3500K-4100K) has a more energizing effect.

Moisture Resistance

Moisture resistance is essential in humid bathroom environments to prevent hazards. Choose lighting rated for damp/wet locations.

Size and Placement

Scale lighting fixtures appropriately to the size of your bathroom. Place components thoughtfully based on room layout and activities.

Dimming Capabilities

Dimmable fixtures allow you to adjust light levels for different needs. Dimmers work well for accent, task and ambient lighting.

Key Types of Bathroom Lighting Fixtures

There is a wide variety of bathroom lighting fixture styles to achieve your desired look and function.

Flush Mount

Ceiling lights that sit flush against the ceiling, spreading ambient light.

Semi-Flush Mount

Similar to flush mounts but hang down slightly from the ceiling.


Hanging lights suspended from the ceiling with decorative visible cords. Great over sinks or bathtubs.


Wall mounted fixtures perfect for task lighting near mirrors and at vanities.

Vanity Strips

Thin lighting strips mounted horizontally along the top or sides of bathroom mirrors.

Track Lighting

Flexible rail systems that allow you to aim spotlights for accent lighting.

Recessed/Can Lighting

Ambient lighting with adjustable directional beams. Recessed into ceiling.

Bathroom Lighting by Zone

Proper placement of lighting components in key zones creates an optimal experience.

Vanity Area

Focus bright task lighting on the mirror space for grooming. Flank the mirror with sconces. Undercabinet LED strips illuminate below.

Shower/Tub Area

Waterproof ceiling flush mount or recessed lighting. Accent lighting directed at the tub or shower wall adds drama.

Toilet Area

Ambient lighting from the ceiling. Wall sconces provide task lighting.

Storage Areas

Inside cabinets/glass doors, use LED lighting strips or mini puck lights to showcase contents.

Setting the Right Bathroom Lighting Mood

Bathroom lighting should also match the desired atmosphere.

For a spa-like feel, use warm light temperatures, glowy sconces, accent lighting, and dimmers. Enhance the relaxing vibe with candle-lit fixtures.

For a bright, energizing bathroom, opt for cool white lighting, vivid task lighting, and minimal shadows.

For a glamorous, elegant style, choose crystal fixtures, pendant lights, accent lighting, and illuminated mirrors.

With careful planning and strategic placement of varied lighting sources, you can enjoy a bathroom space that is artfully illuminated and wonderfully functional.

Frequently Asked Questions About Bathroom Lighting

What is the best lightbulb for a bathroom vanity?

LED bulbs are ideal for bathroom vanities. LEDs produce bright, focused task lighting, run coolly to prevent fire hazards near mirrors, and are energy efficient with long lifespans. Opt for warm white 2700-3000K color temperature LED bulbs.

How many lights should be in a bathroom?

For proper ambient and task lighting, plan to install 4-6 light sources in a bathroom. This typically includes a flush or semi-flush ceiling fixture, vanity lighting, 1-2 wall sconces, and accent lighting.

Should you put lights above bathroom mirror?

Yes, lighting above or flanking the bathroom mirror is essential. Well positioned and bright enough vanity lighting ensures you can properly see for grooming tasks. Install sconces, pendant lights, or LED lighting strips around medicine cabinets and mirrors.

What is a waterproof bathroom light called?

Waterproof lights designed for the humidity and moisture in bathrooms are labeled damp location or wet location rated fixtures. Choose IP65 rated lighting for bathrooms as these are totally sealed against water and vapor infiltration.

How do you choose bathroom lighting?

Consider the size, layout and activities in the bathroom space. Layer ambient, task and accent lighting to create brightness and visual interest. Choose moisture-resistant fixtures in white light temperatures and styles that match your decor. Place components thoughtfully in key zones. Include dimming abilities.


When designing your dream bathroom, invest time planning the lighting. Follow bathroom lighting best practices choosing varied fixture styles, thoughtful placement, wet-rated components, adequate brightness, dimming capabilities, and white light temperatures to match the desired ambiance. With a well-lit bathroom, you’ll have a space that is both functional and beautiful.