Lighting is a crucial component for an attractive, functional bathroom, yet it is often overlooked when planning a remodel. It plays a key role in the room, properly illuminating while comfortably facilitating daily tasks. A well-chosen lighting plan can create an inviting and luminous sanctuary in which to start and end your day.

With the numerous bathroom lighting ideas available, it can be a challenge to select the right ones for your home. Fixtures should be attractive, function well, and complement your personal design plan. The following guidelines will shed light on the important considerations and options that can help you create a well-lit, beautiful bathroom.

Design with Layered Lighting in Mind

North Dallas Modern Bathroom MakeoverIf you aren’t familiar with the term, layered lighting uses various types of light to illuminate a space. The first layer in most bathrooms is an overhead light, whether a single fixture or recessed lighting. Additional layers include lights above or beside the vanity and around the tub and shower. Depending on the size of the room, smaller accent lights like sconces or table lamps can be used to brighten the area and enhance the décor.

When in the planning stages, it’s important to determine how much natural light is available. Natural light is a wonderful resource that factors into how much light you’ll need overall. Whether from windows, a French door, and/or skylight, examine where and how it brightens the space throughout the day.

Square footage is another important factor in determining the amount of light, also known as lumens, that the room requires. A powder room, of course, won’t need as many fixtures to brighten the space as the primary bath. Location of the main features, such as the tub and shower, is an additional consideration for placement and number of fixtures.

Ambient Lighting

Beige-and-White-Light-Bathroom-with-Shower-Stall-in-Bellbrook-Estates-Dallas Ambient lighting is also known as the general light that fills the entire room. As the foundational source of light, it provides enough illumination for homeowners to function and move about the space. This first layer of lighting should offer a comfortable, pleasant ambiance.

There are several factors that contribute to overall ambient light. The first, when available, is natural light. Additional sources include overhead fixtures, recessed, and/or track lighting. Ambient light acts as the backdrop for your lighting plan, providing even illumination for all four corners of the room.

Task Lighting

Bathroom task lighting is most often located above or around the vanity.  It provides a comfortable level of ample, even light without casting shadows. This layer of light increases general illumination, providing the necessary light for shaving, applying makeup, and other similar activities. Even a small bathroom, like a powder room, uses task lighting to create a comfortable, well-lit space.

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Task lighting fixtures come in a variety of styles that will suit any design plan. The most common include:

  • Bar – Their rectangular shape lends a classic look and feel to the vanity area. They often contain multiple bulbs, and come with or without a cover or shades. This fixture is a good candidate for LED bulbs which offer a range of cool to warm tones to suit your preference.
  • Cage – These fixtures offer an industrial vibe with their open and airy design. Available in a variety of finishes, these rugged lights complement numerous design styles.
  • Globe – A modern design staple, globe lighting provides a modest, clean profile. They’re available with clear, white, frosted, and vintage style globes.
  • Shaded – Diverse and versatile, these attractive fixtures have shade options that complement any decor. Glass or metal shades are best, holding up well against damp conditions in the bathroom.
  • Tube – Similar to the horizontal bar style above, these cylindrical fixtures provide an ultra-modern look. Their sleek design adds an understated simplicity that supplies just the right amount of light.

In addition to choosing the right fixtures for your bathroom, it’s important to select the appropriate bulbs. Bulb types include:

  • Edison – These bulbs combine a vintage look with modern technology. They suit various fixtures, including task and pendant lights, for a stylish yet historic effect. Their distinctive visible coiled filaments are obvious in the traditional tapered bulb, or the tube or globe shapes.
  • Globe – The globe bulb functions well in numerous fixtures throughout the bathroom. Popular choices include white, clear, or frosted. Whether under a glass shade over the vanity or in a pendant in the powder room, they’re clean and stylish.
  • Halogen – Although a bit more costly, halogen bulbs last longer than many of their counterparts. Often found in sconces, pendants, vanity, and ceiling lights, they’re known for offering a clean, white light that highlights skin tones more accurately, making them a popular choice.
  • Incandescent – Once a popular bulb choice, they mimic natural light and work well with dimmers. Due to inefficient energy consumption, production of common incandescent bulbs has ceased.
  • LED – Light-emitting diodes, or LED lights, are versatile, perfect for your bathroom vanity mirrors, recessed, strips, and other applications. These energy efficient bulbs emit less heat and supply abundant, uniform illumination.

Tub and Shower Lighting

Contemporary Master Bathroom Remodel in Forest Bend, Dallas TXIt’s important to include task lighting in the tub/shower areas. Not only does it provide ample light for necessary activities, it helps create a safer environment for all ages. Placed strategically above the tub or shower, options include regular or low profile recessed and gimbal swivel lights. Often 2-3 lights are sufficient, but this will be dictated by the room’s square footage, layout, and personal preference. For safety purposes, this lighting should be damp and/or wet rated specific to the location and installed by a certified electrician.

Accent Lighting

Accent lights add yet another purposeful layer of light to the room, infusing warmth throughout, creating a restful, spa-like environment. Their purpose is not to illuminate the entire room, but to add personality and interest, and to enhance the general décor and ambiance. Sconces, small table lamps, and undercabinet, strips, or track lighting can brighten corners and highlight a focal point or other feature such as an archway, decorative tile, or artwork.

Light Size and Placement Matters

Black-and-White-Modern-Bathroom-with-Double-Vanity-in-Midway-Highlands-DallasFor a bathroom to function properly, lighting must be ample, appropriate, and well-placed. Lights placed over the vanity, for example, should be proportional to the cabinetry, countertop, and mirror. Fixtures that are too large will overwhelm, and those too small will be insufficient for daily tasks. In addition, tub and shower lighting should brighten sufficiently without overpowering.

Positioning is key as well for optimum function and comfort throughout the room. A well placed recessed light, pendant, or sconce above a soaking tub, for instance, will create just the right ambiance for a leisurely reprieve after a busy day.

Properly positioned vanity lights, whether overhead or alongside the mirror, will eliminate shadows and enable fuss free shaving, grooming, and makeup application. Although the standard guidelines for overhead vanity light height is approximately 75”-80” from the floor, you can customize placement to fit your unique needs.

Other Lighting Design Considerations

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When researching bathroom design lighting ideas, factors like safety and convenience are also important considerations. In addition, creative and customized design choices will enhance the room’s function and complement the overall lighting plan.

Moisture Ratings for Fixtures

There are three different types of moisture ratings. When selecting bathroom fixtures, make sure they are suitable for the space.

  • Dry-rated are for spaces that don’t see any moisture, like a closet or bedroom.
  • Damp-rated are used in areas exposed to steam and humidity. These fixtures include vanity, sconces, or ceiling lights.
  • Wet-rated are those that can withstand direct exposure to water. This type includes any kind of recessed or other lighting in the area around or above the shower/tub.


The dimmer is a useful feature that conserves energy and is suitable for most any lighting fixture. It will brighten or dim light to your preferences. For example, if you prefer less light upon waking up in the morning, or desire brighter light for the kids’ bath time, the dimmer will accommodate either. Not only will a dimmer create the desired ambiance, it can act as night light as well.

Mix and Match Metals

There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to choosing finishes for lighting fixtures. The traditional approach, choosing the same tones for each fixture is always a good option. However, if you want to add interest, you might choose chrome tub/sink fixtures combined with bronze or matte black finish lighting. The combination of the sleek, shiny finish with subtle, dark tones can provide a unique, striking effect. No matter what your choices, aim for a pleasing and cohesive combination of lighting and plumbing fixtures for an attractive, personalized look.

Contrast in Your Lighting Design Scheme

As in any design plan, the unique blending of various elements can create a stunning look. Lighting fixtures are no exception, and combined with other design features like paint, wallcoverings, natural stone, and wood, the result can be an attractive combination that exudes character and style.

One example of using contrast for an eye-catching design could include a combination of white marble and dark plumbing and light fixtures. Or, you might choose rugged cage fixtures over the vanity and a sparkling chandelier for the ceiling light.

The opportunities to express your personal style with contrasting lighting styles and other elements are endless. Don’t be afraid to use contrast, texture, and color to create a beautifully eclectic and functional space you’ll enjoy for years to come.

Blackline Renovations, Your Bathroom Remodel Experts

Blackline Renovations has been providing premier design-build services for Dallas, TX homeowners since 2002. Our expertise not only includes modern bathroom remodels, but custom kitchens, living and bedrooms, laundry rooms, accessory dwelling units, garages, and home additions.

From the initial planning stage that includes advice on how to choose bathroom lighting, to construction and beautiful completion, our team of experts offers all the guidance you need. We guide you through the process, and guarantee your absolute and complete satisfaction. Browse our portfolio of bathroom remodels and other home remodel projects for ideas and inspiration.

Contact us at 214-827-3747 or schedule a consultation with our talented staff. We’re here to answer all your remodel and home addition questions.

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