How To Light A Bathroom Correctly


How To Light A Bathroom CorrectlyAlthough it may not seem so, the bathroom is one of the most important rooms of a house, so making sure it looks flawless is something each of us should be concerned about.

A thing you may not know is that it’s really important to understand how to light a bathroom correctly, since this room tends to be a bit neglected when it comes to lighting.

Most people believe that lighting a bathroom means adding a main light on the ceiling and, if necessary, an additional light above the mirror.

Well, this process isn’t really right, and it will definitely not lead to the most beautiful bathroom you could have.

It may even give the feeling that you lack some natural light, which is the last thing you want.

However, there are some solutions to this problem, and the easiest is to choose carefully what lights you add in your bathroom andwhere exactly you place them.

How to light a bathroom correctlyThough it sounds really complicated, I can guarantee you that it’s not so, on the contrary, it’s really easy because the only thing you have to do is to follow some simple steps.

The result you’ll get will be a bathroom that will shine, literally. 😀

So, let’s not be too long about it, and start learning how to light a bathroom correctly. The key is to understand what kind of lights we need, because there are several types, and where exactly we need them, since this depends on every room’s dimensions.


The different lights you need

     1. Ambient light = Main ceiling light


What it does: It’s probably the most important light of a bathroom, because it’s the main one and it has the role to illuminate the whole room. In my opinion, an ambient light is a “must have” in every bathroom, no matter how small it is.

How to light a bathroomIdeally, a bathroom should be naturally illuminated, but as this isn’t always possible, the ambient light is the one that has to replace the natural light. This isn’t a very easy mission, that’s why it’s really important to choose a proper ambient light.

Where to place: People usually place the ambient lights on the ceiling’s surface, which is a great idea, because in this way, the light will fill the whole room.

What to choose: The type of ambient light you should choose depends on your bathroom’s height and space, because the lights that work great in a small bathroom may not look that good in a larger bathroom.

Small bathroom
How to light a bathroom correctlyFor a small bathroom, you have to choose something that illuminates well, but at the same time, something that doesn’t cover the entire ceiling, as this would make the room seem even smaller.

A ceiling light would be perfect, thanks to its small dimensions, because it would manage to illuminate the whole room without attracting attention on the ceiling.

Large bathroomA cove on the ceiling would be the best solution because it would manage to fill with light the entire room. In this way, you won’t have any less illuminated areas, that are a very common problem in spacious bathrooms. 


     2. Task light = Vanity and shower light


What it does: Task lights are extremely important for a bathroom, thanks to their role of illuminating the face.

How to light a bathroomWhere to place: When it comes to placing these lights, you have to pay a lot of attention. Don’t place them right above the mirror, as this will only make them illuminate your head and not your face, making you seem either too pale or much older.

The best place for task lighting would be on both sides of the mirror, because the light will illuminate all of your face in the same proportion.

Also, try placing the task lights at the same level with your forehead. Placing them closer to the top would be similar to having lights above the mirror, whose effect we’ve already talked about.

Shower is a secondary area where you can place small task lights, but keep in mind that they’re not always necessary here. Generally, glass doors reflect the light very well, so if you have this type of doors in your shower, additional task lights aren’t necessary.

What to choose: As I said before, if shower task lights aren’t always required, vanity lights are quite necessary, so remember this when you decide to place lights in your bathroom.

 How to light a bathroom correctlySmall bathroom: In small bathrooms, space is very little. A common problem is that placing vanity lights on both sides of the mirror could lead to a more overcrowded look, even though the lighting is perfect.

That’s why, only in this case, placing some small or medium vanity lights above the mirror would be better. However, the lights shouldn’t be put right above the mirror, but a few inches above, managing to give a spacious sense and a proper illumination.

 Large bathroom: Here there are no certain rules, thanks to the sufficient space we have. The vanity lights can be of any type, and it’s recommended to place them near the mirror, at the same level with your forehead because the illumination would be much better in this way.

Shower lights are optional in this case too, and would be recommended only if your shower’s doors can’t reflect light at all.


     3. Accent light = Light that emphasizes decorations


What it does: Accent lights are common in luxurious bathrooms, that are full of different decorations and artistic elements, that need to be accentuated by light.

How to light a bathroom correctlyI’m not a huge fan of accent lights, and in my opinion, as long as you don’t want a sophisticated bathroom, this type of lights aren’t something that you really need, in order to make you bathroom look good.

However, if you like them and you think they would look good in your bathroom, accent lights will definitely do no harm.

Where to place: There isn’t a certain rule, generally you have to add some accent lights somewhere near the decorations you want to emphasize, so that they can be well illuminated.

What to choose: There are many types of accent lights, depending on what decorations you need them for

 Small bathroomIf your bathroom is really narrow, I don’t advise you to add a lot of decorations, stick only to the basics. This will give the feeling of more space, and that’s the first thing you should be looking for. In this case, you won’t need too many accent lights either, but if you really want to add some, you should go for small, hardly visible spotlights.

  How to light a bathroom correctlyLarge bathroom: The number of accent lights you should add depends of how many decorations you have. Obviously, for large decorative items you’ll need more than a small spotlight, so in this case you could go for small chandeliers, lamps or other similar lighting. If you decorations have smaller dimensions, then the accent lights could be smaller too, that’s not very hard to realize.



When lighting a bathroom in the right way, you have to pay attention to these 3 types of lights: ambient, task and accent. If the first two are a necessity in every bathroom, the last one is quite optional, and you can use it for an extra glamorous look.

How to light a bathroom correctlyHowever, knowing what type of lights you need is not enough to transform your bathroom into a wonderful, stylish room. You also have to take into consideration your bathroom’s dimensions and the space you have before choosing the right lights.

Anyway, if you manage to understand how and when you have to choose each type of lights, then I think you’ve quite understood how to light a bathroom correctly and you’ll be able to use these information to make your bathroom shine.

I really hope that you learned something useful from my article and if you have any questions, I’m always available. 😀

Do you have all these types of lights in your bathroom? If you don’t, would you take them in consideration next time you’ll decorate your bathroom?

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10 Responses

  1. Chris says:

    Hey, thanks for these tips, I didn’t know there are so many things I wasn’t aware of, regarding bathroom lights.
    My bathroom is definitely not a good example, as I have a small vanity light placed right above the mirror. Now I understand why I look so different in this mirror…
    Do you think that changing the place of the lights would also change the way I look in the bathroom mirror?
    Also, what kind of vanity lights would you recommend me to buy for my small, light bathroom?

    • Anne says:

      Hi Chris, I’m glad you found the mistake by yourself, you’re right, the reason why you look different in the bathroom mirror is probably the way those lights are placed.

      The good news is that changing them would solve the problem completely. You mentioned that you only have a small light above the mirror, so in this case you have two options:

      1. You can remain at this type of lights that are placed above the mirror, but you should get a lighting fixture with 3 or 4 lights. In this way, the light will illuminate equally, especially because your bathroom is small.

      2. You can choose some lights placed on both sides of the mirror, like in modern bathrooms, and by doing this you’ll get a uniform illumination.

      In case you stick to the first option, I would recommend you a modern lighting fixture with 3 lights, click here to see an example.
      If you prefer to change your bathroom a bit and go for a “both sides” light, you can get some lights of the same type but with a different shape, like these ones.

      No matter which of these you choose, the important thing is to create a proper illumination, and your bathroom will look totally different. 😀

  2. christinamk says:

    I never knew there were different names for the types of lights in a bathroom! You certainly sound like you know how to properly interior design a bathroom. I have never given much thought to the proper lighting in a bathroom but the pictures in this article show that it can make a huge difference!

    • Anne says:

      Hi Christina, yeees, they do make a huge difference, I wouldn’t have believed it at first, but this was until I had the possibility to compare a bathroom well lightened with one that was randomly lightened.

      The difference was very big, and the one with the lights placed properly was way above the other one!

      Thanks for reading my article, I hope you enjoyed it 🙂

  3. megan says:

    Wow these bathrooms are beautiful, and i can see why different lighting helps to make it look completely different. These are things I would definitely want to try with my bathroom.I like the fact that you gave insight on smaller bathrooms as well. I wish I had a large immaculate bathroom, but I don’t so I like that you give consideration to that. I’m always looking for another project around the house.

    • Anne says:

      Hey Megan, I’m always very happy when my articles give people useful tips and ideas about how to decorate!

      It may not be a thing everyone knows, but in fact most bathrooms tend to be smaller than larger. I mean, most people have a small bathroom, and larger bathrooms are usually found in large apartments or luxurious houses, that’s why I’m always insisting on small bathrooms, and small rooms in general.

      If you try to apply these tips in your small bathroom and go for a “more correct” way of lighting, you’ll surely see a huge difference. 🙂

  4. Anh Nguyen says:

    I’ll be honest, my bathroom is pretty dark. I really like your article, helping me see design in a more professional way. My bathroom is not huge so I guess a ceiling light will do. Do you recommend orange or white lighting for smaller bathrooms?

    Thanks in advance!


    • Anne says:

      Hi, if you have a dark bathroom then lighting it well is even more important 🙂

      For a dark, small bathroom I would agree with any color that brings brightness and light, so I guess orange would be a much better choice than white.

      It’s actually the most suitable color for that kind of bathroom, even better than yellow, because yellow doesn’t add so much brightness and power to a room that is already dark. Instead, orange does this.

      I hope this helps you a bit 😀

  5. Bob says:

    I started off looking at bathroom lighting and was very amazed to see such variations in lighting. Then I looked at patio ideas, very nice. And then I looked at kitchen flooring. I had no idea that there were so many variations of kitchen flooring. I looked at these specific areas because these are upcoming projects for me! I liked your site as it is very informative, and gave me many new in sites. Your site it self looked very nice as well as being well laid out and easy to maneuver. Very nice job!

    • Anne says:

      Hi Bob, thanks a lot 🙂

      I’m really glad you liked it, especially as you were interested in how to light a bathroom correctly, so I hope my article helped you understand how you can do this in a simple way.

      And about the other articles, all I can say is that I’m extremely happy to be of use 😀

      Thank you for reading my blog!

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