Best Bathroom Lighting Guide

Last Updated on April 2, 2020 by The Tutor

Best Bathroom Lighting Guide

There are many factors to consider when developing a bathroom lighting plan. Even the best bathroom lighting fixtures will require some knowledge on how it all fits together to create the look you are trying to accomplish.

We put together some tips to help with your bathroom lighting project. If you follow these steps closely, you will be happy with the final results.

The Best Bathroom Lighting Guide

A designer who is putting together a bathroom lighting plan should take the following into best bathroom lightingconsideration.

  • Ambient lighting
  • Vanity Lighting
  • Shower Lighting
  • Accent Lighting
  • Color Temperature
  • Lumens

We will take you though each of these steps below and will walk you through how to easily develop a bathroom lighting plan.

Ambient Lighting for the Bathroom

Ambient lighting will be the basic lighting in the room created by recessed lighting in the bathroom ceiling. There are bathrooms that do not have recessed lighting and use other methods. However, recessed lighting is the most effective way to provide full coverage of ambient light in your bathroom.

Start with your ceiling and develop a plan to layout your recessed lighting. Then, we can help you to find the best rated recessed lights for you or your contractor to install. Do not let your contractor simply  buy the cheapest lights they can find at the local home improvement store.

Vanity Lighting for the Bathroom bathroom vanity light

The vanity lighting will likely be the most important lighting in your entire bathroom. In most instances when you have inadequate light in a bathroom it is when you are standing in front of the mirror and

realize you do not have enough light to see what you are doing.

For the vanity, you are looking for effective lighting first and style second. Most people make the mistake of looking at the vanity lighting first as part of their home décor project. Yes, lighting does add a decorative touch and you want to make sure it looks great too. However, the primary purpose of the vanity light is to provide effective lighting for the tasks you will perform in front of the mirror which is why the vanity is providing you with task lighting.

We suggest reading our article on the makeup lighting. There, we provide ideas and examples of vanity lights you can consider for your bathroom.

Shower Lighting

Lighting for the shower will be an easier decision than your vanity lighting. For the most part, you are simply purchasing a damp or wet rated recessed lighting fixture. Read our article on the best lighting for the shower. Meanwhile, this is also an area where you can add some accent lighting. We will cover some of that down below.

bathroom lighting ideas

Accent Lighting for the Bathroom

For the bathroom, accent lighting will likely be a sconce on the wall that is just decorative. It will be providing some additional style and décor to a bathroom remodeling project.

Another place to add accent lighting is in your shower area. We often see high end bathrooms with some unique lighting options in the shower. There are lights for your nook and even lights you can add to the tiled floor. These are simply providing bathroom décor and maybe even some pleasure to your shower experience.

Color Temperature for the Bathroom bathroom lighting

Prior to selecting any of the bathroom fixtures, you must consider the color temperature needed for your bathroom and how all of the fixtures you select need to be paired with the right color temperature. If you did not read it yet, take a few minutes to review our article on the Kelvin Color Temperature. It will explain why the temperature is so important.

For the bathroom, you are going to need a color temperature of 3000k – 3500k in most instances.  The 3000k for a slightly warmer feel and 3500k if you are going for a cleaner and brighter look.

If you are also using accent lighting in the shower, those could deviate a bit down to 2700 if needed. However, the ambient recessed lighting in the ceiling and your vanity lights should be the same kelvin temperature.

Importance of Lumens in the Bathroom

Lumens is a measurement of how bright a light bulb is and should be considered when selecting bathroom lighting fixtures. You want the vanity light to produce a lot of lumens so you have what you need to apply makeup or to shave.

The lumens for the recessed lighting can be different than the lumens for the vanity light. For the bathroom vanity, you will likely have more than one bulb and the total lumens should be more than 2,000. To put this into perspective, if you had an older vanity with two 75 watt incandescent bulbs, they would yield 2,200 lumens combined.

Natural Light in the Bathroom bathroom lights

If at all possible, introduce lots of natural light into your bathroom. Adding a skylight is optimal in providing the natural light needed for a bathroom. The reason why natural light is important is because that is also the best type of light for applying makeup.

Using natural light as an accompaniment to your lighting fixtures is the best bathroom lighting approach you can take. Keep in mind the natural light only helps you during daytime hours which is why it is important to make the best lighting fixture selections.

Night Light for the Bathroom

When was the last time you woke up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom in the dark? Turning on the bathroom lights to see is going to really wake you up and will make it more difficult to get back to sleep again.

Consider adding a night light option into your bathroom remodel plan. The night lights do not have to follow any color temperature requirements at all because you will not even notice them during the day. We are suggesting a night light that you do not have to plug into an outlet.

We recommend this night light that is essentially a light switch with a night light built in. See price on Amazon.

If you do want a simple one that plugs into an outlet, we recommend this one because it still provides additional outlets to use in the bathroom at the same time. See price on Amazon

Dimmers in the bathroom

Dimmers should be added to most lights throughout the house. In the bathroom, we recommend a dimmer only for the recessed lighting in the ceiling. There will be no dimmers needed for your vanity lights or shower lighting. The vanity will always need to be as bright as possible.

You cannot just buy any dimmer at the local home improvement store. If you select the wrong dimmer, your LED lights will flicker. We put together a review of LED dimmers to help to pair the right dimmer with your bathroom lighting fixtures.


Planning is everything when it comes to any home improvement or lighting project. If you are completely remodeling your bathroom and you want the best bathroom lighting possible, then you have a lot of options because the walls will be exposed. Planning the fixtures and wiring will be critical.

If you are trying to optimize your lighting in a bathroom that is not getting completely remodeled, then you will need to be skilled at snaking wires, or may have to hire a local electrician to bring your bathroom lighting plan to life.

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