10 Bathroom Vanity Lighting Best Practices That Make All the Difference

The Absolute Don'ts of Vanity Lighting

You might think that vanity lighting is a no-brainer, but there are a few common mistakes and misconceptions that result in mediocre or completely ineffective lighting. The following are mistakes you don’t want to make when it concerns your vanity lighting.  

Don’t Add Lighting Above the Mirror 

One of the most common uses for vanity mirrors is grooming. Whether you’re applying makeup or trimming your beard, you’ll need to ensure you can see all that you need to. Lighting above the mirror can create shadows, making it difficult to see what needs to be done. 

Don’t Create Uneven Illumination 

Usually, using one overhead or flanking fixture for the vanity creates uneven lighting. Uneven lighting can also be caused by other factors like the lighting being smaller than the mirror. You’ll want to avoid this as it usually makes grooming extra difficult. 

Don’t Ignore the Bulbs

Be mindful of the light bulbs you use. Sometimes lighting can make or break the look of the entire vanity, as well as impact how clearly people are able to view themselves. Clear glass shades and exposed bulbs are typically not recommended in the bathroom because of the glare they can produce. 

Don’t Opt for Minimal Light 

Even if your bathroom gets a lot of natural light, a basic rule of thumb to follow is to aim for 50 lumens per square foot. This mimics natural daylight and eliminates any worry about cloudy weather disrupting your view.

Don’t Dismiss Dimming 

You may already have a preference for softer, dim bathroom vanity lighting. Even if you love the nice bright look, it may benefit you to consider using dimmer switches. Dimmer switches help to provide a warm transition into the evening and to start your morning.  

Don’t Overlook Color Temperature and CRI 

Color Temperature and Color Rendering Index (CRI) play a big role in the overall ambiance your bathroom carries. Paying attention to noting the right color temperature and CRI for your bathroom vanity can be the difference in creating the bathroom you love to be in. 

By avoiding these bathroom vanity lighting mistakes, you can save yourself a lot of disappointment and frustration. But this is not just about what not to do. Knowing the best practices to follow can help you create a bathroom that you will truly love. It is essential to keep in mind both the don'ts and the do's of bathroom lighting to make the most of your space.

Bathroom Vanity Lighting Best Practices 

Now that you know what bathroom vanity lighting mistakes to avoid, you are on your way toward bringing the vanity of your dreams to light (pun intended). To get there, here are the ten best bathroom vanity lighting practices to implement in your bathroom. 

Consider It Early On In Your Bathroom Project

Whether you’re remodeling or building, you must consider lighting fixtures from the very beginning. You may have to relocate certain fixtures or get extensive electrical wiring work done in order to bring your vanity to life. The later this is discussed, the harder it will be to bring to fruition. 

Examine How Much Lighting You’re Going to Need

Not all bathrooms are built the same. The same goes for the fixtures within them. The amount of vanity lighting needed will vary depending on your bathroom size, the presence of windows and the overall layout. One rule of thumb is to pick a light fixture that is around three-quarters length of your vanity’s width. This will ensure ample lighting for both grooming and daily bathroom usage. 

Select Lighting That Complements the Size of Your Vanity Fixtures

If you have a long bathroom vanity, you might need more than one light to properly illuminate it. For instance, if you have two sinks, it's best to have lighting for each sink.  Sconces on both sides of your mirror will light up your face evenly, and prevent any shadows. Using bar fixtures is also an option to provide more light. 

Choose the Right Bulbs for the Fixtures 

Remember to not forget about the bulbs! Frosted or fabric shades can provide the same beautiful effect that clear shades or exposed bulbs appear to in pictures. The truth is, these very pictures are not always accurate. A tried and true way to avoid choosing the wrong bulbs is to see them for yourself before making a purchase decision.

Synchronize Your Vanity Lighting With the Style of the Bathroom

It's a good idea to pick a vanity light that matches the style of your bathroom or other nearby rooms. You could go for cool options like oil-rubbed bronze, chrome, antique brass, or brushed nickel. Regardless of what you select, make sure it is waterproof and safe to use in the bathroom.

Explore All Your Bathroom Vanity Lighting Options 

As with any product selection, when you are picking out lighting for your bathroom it is important to take the time to explore all your options. Although it can be tempting to just go with the first fixture that catches your eye, there are lots of different styles of vanity lighting out there that might work even better for you! The good news is that there are plenty of options out there that will complement whatever design style you select. So take your time and don't be afraid to get creative.  You might just find the perfect lighting fixture for you and your bathroom!

Consider Backlighting 

Backlighting is a fantastic way to improve the lighting in your bathroom. By placing a light above and behind where you stand, you'll be able to see yourself and your clothes more clearly, and it can add a really nice ambiance to the room. To achieve good backlighting, one option is to use a surface mount.

This type of light fixture attaches directly to the surface of your bathroom wall, making it an easy and practical solution for getting the light exactly where you need it. With a surface mount, you can achieve great backlighting without any complicated installation or modifications to your bathroom. It's a simple and effective way to upgrade your bathroom lighting and enhance your daily routine!

Be Sure You’re Not Spotlighting the Floor 

Using floor lights provides a beautiful lighting effect to the bathroom, typically as a night-time aid for moving around the bathroom without having to turn on the lights. What doesn’t look nice is when it creates random spotlights on the floor. This is usually a result of downlights being positioned over bare spots on the floor. Consider placement and design when you are looking to illuminate your flooring.

Make Sure The Lighting Complements Each Other 

It is important to make sure that the lighting in your room complements each other. This means that you want all of the lights to work well together and create a cohesive look. To achieve this, it's a good idea to choose light bulbs with the same or similar color temperature. This will help to create a uniform look and prevent any weird or mismatched lighting situations.

To ensure that your lighting choices work well together, it is a good idea to test out the bulbs before you buy them. You can hold them up next to each other and see how they look when illuminated. This will give you a good sense of whether the bulbs will work well together or if you need to make any adjustments. With a little bit of careful planning and consideration, you can create a beautiful, well-lit space that feels just right!

Use Ceiling Height to Your Advantage

Hanging fixtures are a great way to add some visual interest to your bathroom and highlight the height of your walls while providing an additional layer of lighting to your bathroom and vanity. If this makes sense for your space, it is important to make sure that you hang the fixture at the right height. Consider the height of anyone using the bathroom regularly.  While close to eye level is always a good goal, that may not be an option when users are at different heights.  As you have to move a fixture higher, make sure the lighting can still support the illumination you are looking for.  

The key is to find a height that works well for everyone and provides good, even lighting for your vanity area. With a little bit of experimentation, you're sure to find the perfect hanging fixture for your bathroom!


Investing in a well-thought-out bathroom lighting design is one of the best things you can do for your space. With the right combination of vanity lighting, ceiling lighting, and ambient lighting, you can create a beautiful and highly efficient space that is a joy to use.

In addition to making your bathroom look great, good lighting can also help to reduce your energy bills and increase your home value. By following these best practices and choosing the right lighting fixtures for your needs, you can create a bathroom that is truly set up for success.

When you are ready to take the next step and remodel or update your bathroom lighting, we are here to help. Our design experts are ready to assist you with all of your bathroom lighting needs, so don't hesitate to contact the design experts here at Reico today to schedule a design consultation. We can't wait to help you create the bathroom of your dreams!

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