Where to Position Light Fixtures in the Bathroom

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One of the most important considerations in building or remodeling a bathroom is the position of light fixtures. You have probably been in a bathroom that had too little light in the shower or bathtub. You may have wished for more light near the mirror. Maybe the light seemed fine until you tried to clean the bathroom, and couldn’t see much in the corners.

Where to position light fixtures in the bathroom should be a question that is addressed early in the project.

Light Fixtures at the Sink Mirror

The question of where to position light fixtures in the bathroom begins at the mirror above the sink. Obviously, good lighting is needed most at the sink mirror. Applying make-up, shaving, hair-styling, and other personal grooming all require lighting that is free of shadows. Light fixtures that are positioned properly near the mirror above the sink should minimize shadows under the chin and eyes.

Minimally, you should position a light fixture on either side of the mirror. These light fixtures should be placed at average forehead height, with a distance between them of at least two and a half feet. Incandescent or halogen bulbs are better choices than fluorescent, since fluorescent may give a greenish or pale cast to the skin.

If you are able to install more light fixtures in this area, add light above the mirror. Position light strips or light bars above the mirror and on either side of the mirror to eliminate all shadows.

Light fixtures near the mirror should be set to direct light at the person, not at the mirror. They should not have reflectors, which cause glare.

Light Fixtures for Wet Areas

Wet areas are those locations in your bathroom where you shower or bathe. You need sufficient light above a bathtub, sauna, shower, and whirlpool bath, but you will not want standard light fixtures in these places. Use recessed downlights that are clearly rated for wet locations. If your shower is small, one downlight may be sufficient. For tubs and larger shower, you may want multiple recessed light fixtures.

Light Fixtures for Closets and Cabinets

Sometimes, the darkest part of a bathroom is the inside of the linen closet or the dark recesses of the sink vanity cabinet. The best choices here are door-mounted lights that light automatically when a door is opened.

Light Fixtures for Other Areas

If your bathroom is small, you may not need light fixtures other than those described above. If it is large or dark, you may want to add a scone light fixture on the wall by the toilet and in other dark locations. Overhead lights, while common, do little and are usually not attractive.

If you need more information on where to position light fixtures in the bathroom, ask at your home improvement or lighting store.

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