Tips for Adding Smart, Sophisticated Statement Lighting to a Bathroom

Statement lighting is all the rage in bedrooms and living rooms, where light can be altered to match a family’s moods and needs at any given time.

When it comes to the bathroom, statement lighting is just as important for creating a relaxing and elegant ambiance. From perfecting vanity lighting to adding a touch of artistic flair, here’s how to choose the right statement lighting for a bathroom of any style.  

Bathroom Lighting Options

The first thing homeowners must decide is what type of lighting they’d like to add to their bathroom space. To aid in this decision, Rejuvenation copywriter Kalie Eyman outlines three main types of lighting that interior designers define. These include ambient lighting, task lighting and accent lighting. While ambient lighting refers to general ceiling-based light that illuminates the whole room, task and ambient lighting focus on illuminating small areas, either for certain tasks or to create a specific mood.

Task lighting should be considered first, as this plays a role in the bathroom’s functionality. Next, ambient and accent lighting can be added to the space. Progress Lighting explains that this is called layering, which is the key to creating a dynamic ambiance in the bathroom. More layers of lighting create more options, which makes it easier for both family members and guests to create the mood they’d like when using the bathroom.

Color and Intensity

No one looks great in the harsh glow of overhead fluorescent lighting. That’s why it’s so important to choose vanity lighting that creates a pleasant ambiance and that is flattering those who look in the mirror.

The first step in achieving flattering lighting is finding the right light color. When deciding which color to aim for, senior brand marketing manager Sarah Schaale explains that white is always the superior option. This is because white shades mimic outdoor light, which is the light that makes people look their best. Fixtures in with white, clear or frosted white ensure that the homeowner achieves a natural light effect in their bathroom.

When looking at specific lighting and color details, lighting retailer Lightology explains that there are two key measures to consider. The first is CRI, or color rendering index, which helps register the accuracy with which a light represents a color. The color temperature is the second measure, and it refers to the warmth or coolness of a light (think yellow or golden light vs white or blue light).

Whiter light may at first appear brighter than yellow light, but the actual brightness depends on the kelvin number. When looking at light bulb numbers, Limeade editorial manager Anne Reagan adds that a higher kelvin number usually translates to brighter light. “Most light bulb packages describe bulbs as Soft White (2700K-3000K), Cool White/Bright White (3500K-4100K) and Daylight (5000K-6500K),” she writes at Porch.com.

light bulbs -- statement lighting

Lighting Location

The second consideration for vanity lighting is where the lights should be placed. Copywriter Kristen Hicks at Living Direct says that vanity lighting is most commonly placed somewhere around the mirror. To optimize the functionality of the lighting and mirror for everyday tasks like shaving and brushing teeth, it’s best to add light on either side of the mirror as well as at the top.

According to lighting retailer Kichler Lighting, this placement eliminates shadows on people’s faces. Yale Appliance and Lighting CEO Steve Sheinkopf agrees that this is the best way to add vanity lighting to the bathroom. He also says that two lights on either side of a mirror is referred to as cross illumination, which may be helpful to know when working with lighting professionals.

Furthermore, sconces on either side of the mirror might be the most effective way to achieve a flattering look in the bathroom mirror. If there’s enough space on the wall, interior design shop Studio McGee says sconces are a must-add to the bathroom.

Aside from vanity lighting, there are many other places one can add lights to the bathroom. If a bathroom has niche shelving, for example, a small light inside the shelf can keep it illuminated. Amy Buxton at Homify writes that niche lighting does more than make it easier to locate and use the products located on the shelf. It creates a dramatic look and can serve as a navigational light when using the bathroom during the night.

Adjustable lighting

Not all homeowners consider dimmers in the bathroom, but they probably should. In fact, architectural and interior designer Mark Williams stresses how important it is to have varying levels of lighting options in the bathroom. Williams says that while some people like to have very bright light in the bathroom in the morning, others prefer a gentler one. Dimmers allow homeowners to control this experience and create the ambiance that they need to maximize comfort.

Bathroom designer Martina Landhed suggests having two circuits on dimmers, which will enhance the variety of lighting options available to people in the space. Another suggestion is to have one light circuit enabled with a motion detector, so that lights will automatically turn on when a person enters the bathroom.

flower lights -- statement lighting

Unique Ideas for Statement Lighting

After choosing task lights for functionality, there are ways to increase the impact of layered statement lighting even further. For example, upcycled and vintage lights can play a role in the bathroom. Lifestyle blogger Abbey DeHart at The Cards We Drew uses a custom barn light with two oversized bulbs to add a rustic flair to a nautical bathroom.

Marnie Custom Homes founder and DIY network host Marnie Oursler says hanging pendants can be a lovely addition to a bathroom, especially in small spaces over a vanity. She shows how a simple string of vintage light bulbs adds “a playful but design-forward statement” above a bathroom sink. Luxury interior designer Leslie Hendrix Wood at Hadley Court explains that the rounded balls of a hanging bubble-like pendant create balance with pieces like rectangular tubs. The bubbles add warmth and softness to spaces that tend to have a lot of hard surfaces and materials in them.

When working with a bathroom that has little to no natural light, lighting is even more important. Apartment Therapy House Tour editor Adrienne Breaux says that a unique hanging light is a great way to compensate for a lack of natural light. A mounted wall lamp plus additional mirrors and reflective surfaces can also keep things bright and interesting, even in a windowless bathroom.

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