The bathroom vanity is an important space in the home, but one that can sometimes be overlooked. In a primary bathroom, it can be the central hub for much of our self-care and the true workhorse for some of our daily routines. For this reason, bathroom vanities need carefully selected lighting that lives up to its full potential. There are many options to choose from, all of which work in different scenarios and can be used together to achieve the best of both worlds. Read on to find out how to choose the right lighting for your bathroom vanity.
Wall Mounted Light Fixtures
Sconces, or wall-mounted light fixtures, are a popular choice for bathroom vanities for several reasons. They can be beautiful and highly functional, and generally they don’t take up a lot of space. It’s important to realise, though, that sconces come in various forms and should be selected properly to provide appropriate light for a bathroom, which is different from, say, the lighting in a tight hallway or intimate dining room. In a main bathroom, where one will sometimes be using the mirror for tasks such as shaving, applying make-up, it’s important to have fixtures that light not just the space, but the face. Together, a pair of sconces will evenly light the face from the sides, avoiding harsh shadows that can leave part of your visage in the dark. That being said, the fact that they can cap off the look of a beautiful bathroom mirror is a bonus.
To get the most functional lighting in a bathroom, you’ll want to choose light fixtures with a semi-opaque shade that diffuse light gently, rather than an opaque shade that completely blocks the light from traveling forward. This way the light will reach your face rather than just hitting the surfaces of the room. Choose a pair of sconces if:
- You need your vanity to be an evenly lit workstation for your morning routine.
- You want to fill the space to the sides of your mirror with an extra decorative touch.
- You have a single narrow mirror or multiple mirrors with spaces between.
- You can’t install lights in the ceiling (in an apartment with concrete ceilings, for example).
A Statement Chandelier or Pendant
So far we’ve talked a lot about functional task lighting, but sometimes light has a different, ambient function: just being beautiful. Especially true in spaces other than the main bathroom, such as a powder room, the lighting may not need to be perfectly even and bright. If you don’t use a space as often, it can be a great place to experiment with unique looks that you might not use anywhere else in the home. If you love the look of a statement chandelier in the bathroom but still want the functionality of less-dramatic lighting, consider placing the chandelier in the centre of the room or over the bathtub instead.Mixing basic wall fixtures with a more elaborate ceiling fixture will reduce the chance of the two styles competing or clashing. Choose a statement chandelier or pendant if:
- You don’t need perfectly even lighting for tasks in a non-primary bathroom.
- You want to make a big impact in a powder room.
Multiple Simple Pendants
While pendant lights can be quite dramatic, they can also be functional as well. Because pendants don’t attach to the wall, many models can be hung at whatever height and points in the bathroom that you choose. You could hang one light on either side of the basin, or include more pendants for more brightness. Pendants can be very useful when you cannot install lights on the wall, either because of an architectural feature, such as a window, or because the wall is already finished (say, with beautiful tiling) and you don’t want to open it up just to add a new light. Keep in mind that the rules here are similar to using sconces: Hanging the light around eye level, with a shade that lets the light diffuse outward in all directions, will light both the face and the room the most evenly. Choose multiple pendants if:
- You want to have it all – a wide, uninterrupted mirror and multiple functional lights.
- You have a tricky wall that can’t house sconces.
- You already have power supplied for lights in the ceiling and don’t want to open the walls unnecessarily.
Recessed downlights are often the first thing people look to when planning a bathroom renovation. This is especially true when renovating a space to sell, as downlights are aesthetically neutral and generally acceptable to any potential homeowner. However, downlights are often burdened with lighting a whole room, when in fact they should only be one part of a full lighting scheme. If downlights are being used to light a vanity, it’s important to remember the previously mentioned rule: vanity lights should be lighting your face, not the mirror or the room in general. A single light in the centre of the room will not usually be enough light for the whole space. Using four or more downlights, wired on a dimmer system, will ensure you can turn the brightness up or down as needed. For the richest light scheme, it’s best to combine downlights with pendants or sconces to bring in light from additional angles. However, using just ceiling lights can create a particular breezy, modern atmosphere, with nothing interrupting the crisp vertical surfaces, so it ultimately comes down to the look you prefer. Choose recessed downlights if:
- You like a wide open, modern scheme with walls free of pendants and sconces.
- You want a rich lighting scheme that includes multiple light sources working together.
As in the photo featured above, our design expert at Hurst Homes has used recessed downlights, with a statement pendant above the vanity in the lighting scheme to combine beauty, flare and ensure ample light. It’s this sort of knowledge that separates us as a Wagga builder, and is why we are Wagga’s Best Builder.
Modern LED Strips
While most of the lighting types we’ve looked at have existed for ages, the use of modern LED strips to create mysterious glowing light virtually anywhere is a more recent development, with technology that just keeps getting better and better. Bright lights that can now easily be built into mirrors, medicine cabinets, vanities, shelves or ceiling coves give a sense of futuristic cleanliness, which may be too minimalist for some spaces but tends to work well in a wide range of bathrooms. Mirror lights are especially great for bringing a bright glow when you need it for tasks. These lights can be a bit of an investment compared to a typical bulb, but their long life usually makes them an economical choice in the long-term. Glowing lights built under or above a deep cabinet will not provide as much light on your face as a light beaming directly out of the mirror. Choose modern LED strip lighting if:
- You like the space-age look of glowing LED light emanating from a mysterious source.
- You want to achieve ultimate brightness by adding a mirror light to an already rich scheme.
- You have a cool wall treatment you want to highlight with an even wash of light.
For more lighting inspiration click the link to our website Hurst Homes to see our design gallery.
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