Getting just the right amount and type of lighting in your bathroom can be challenging. Too little light and you will not be able to see effectively. Too much light and you will feel like you have spotlights on you all the time. Homeowners will typically add a line of lights above a large bathroom mirror and call it a day. Don’t sell yourself short! There are an endless number of lighting options that you can select from, allowing you to customize the lighting in your bathroom.
However, before you purchase bathroom lighting fixtures, here are a few things that you want to know:
- Decide on the level of light that you want in the bathroom. Do you prefer bright light? Or lighting that is subtler? If you want the option to alter lighting levels, install dimmers.
- Remember that you are not just limited to a ceiling light or a ceiling light/fan combination. Ceiling light provides general overall lighting for your bathroom. Adding lights over, around, or on either side of a bathroom mirror gives you lighting options.
- Use light bulbs that are frosted or opaque. Clear light bulbs can be too bright and end up casting shadows, making grooming challenging. Today’s LED light bulbs are an excellent source of light. Using less electricity than traditional bulbs, LEDs up to 75 watts and are dimmable are perfect for bathrooms.
- Seeing yourself in the mirror requires balanced lighting. This means that you want to have the similar lighting on both sides of a mirror. Select the same type of lights, such as sconces, to create symmetry. Lighting only one side of a mirror or using different types of lights on each side will give you uneven light, promoting shadows.
- Also remember to light the shower/bath tub area. If you only rely on one ceiling light to illuminate the entire bathroom, the shower/tub area might be left in the dark. You may need to install two or more lights in the ceiling over this area. Contact a licensed electrician to do this work safely if you are not confident in doing it yourself.
- Lighting fixtures with glass, stainless steel, brass, nickel, and even brushed chrome are highly recommended for bathroom installs. Due to the high level of moisture in any bathroom, lighting fixtures with fabric, bronze, or brass are not recommended. Fabric holds moisture and can develop mold. Bronze and brass tend to corrode.
Types of Lighting
Once you have a good understanding of the dos and don’ts of bathroom lighting, the next step is to become familiar with the types of lighting that is available. Here are a few of the more commons types of lighting used in bathrooms:
- Chandelier: If you are seeking to create a high-end bathroom, then consider installing a chandelier as your ceiling light. Chandeliers are beautiful, lending an air of sophistication and glamour to your bathroom.
- Sconces: A sconce is a “stand alone” light that hangs on the wall. Sconces are available in all shapes and sizes. You can hang these on either side of a mirror or even above a mirror. Look for brand new sconces or consider installing antique ones. If antique, make sure that the electrical on the items is up-to-code.
- Pendant: Pendant lights are light fixtures attached to the ceiling with the light hanging down at the end of the pendant itself. You need to have a rather high ceiling for pendant lighting to hang down to the appropriate height providing the exact level of light needed.
- Glass: Various sizes of blown glass globes are also an option. If your bathroom is large enough, you can add lighting made from glass globes. Unless you want very bright light, select globes that have frosted or opaque glass instead of clear glass.
- Backlit Lighting: A great way to create drama while providing soft lighting is to backlight areas of your bathroom such as open shelving. Backlighting gives you indirect lighting that is softer, offering a more spa-like feel.
Distinct and Unique Lighting
Bathroom design trends are going more towards creating distinctive spaces using unique items including different kinds of lighting fixtures. Farmhouse, industrial, rustic, retro, modern – you can put your stamp on your unique style by installing interesting bathroom lighting. The options here are endless. You might find one-of-a-kind nightlights or lamps used to light up artwork.
Your lights can be made from all types of items. Take lanterns made for outside and install them inside. Use a vintage cage light and repurpose it as a bathroom light fixture. Or take an old barn light and re-purpose it. You can also purchase a vanity light refresh kit to update your bathroom lighting fixtures.
Replacing Bathroom Fixtures
If you are confident in doing electrical work, you can tackle replacing lighting fixtures in your bathroom. (If you are not at all confident, hire an experienced, licensed electrician to do the electrical work.) Here are the basic steps to replacing a lighting fixture in your bathroom:
- Turn off the power that runs to the lighting in the bathroom. If you need light to do this work, you will need to bring in an alternate light source, plugging into a different electrical outlet.
- Remove the lighting fixture. Typically this will involve unscrewing screws or bolts that are holding the fixture to the ceiling or wall. You may want to remove the cover of the lighting fixture first, then the light bulbs(s), and then the fixture itself. Once the fixture is removed, you should see three wires that are the electrical source to the fixture.
- Before you go any further, take a voltage tester and attach it to the hot wire. It the voltage tester light turns on, electricity is still running through the wire. Go to your circuit breaker box or panel, find the right circuit breaker and turn it off.
- Once you are 100% certain that the electricity is off, remove the wires from the fixture.
- Take your new lighting fixture, add light bulbs if needed, and re-attach the wires to the fixture following the directions for installing the fixture. You may need another set of hands to hold the lighting fixture while you re-attach the wires.
- Once the wires are attached, turn on the circuit breaker and turn on the light to make sure it works. You want to do this step prior to installing the light fixture.
- Finally, attach the fixture to the ceiling or wall.
If the fixture does not work when you re-attach the wires and turn the electricity back on, call in an expert electrician. The last thing you want is a lighting fixture that does not work with electricity running through it as this can be a fire hazard.
Replacing lighting in your bathroom can give it an entirely new dramatic look and feel!