Wolfers Lighting Blog

3 Common Bathroom Lighting Mistakes to Avoid

Posted on Jan 31, 2017 by Andrea




Ah, the bathroom. Whether yours is an oasis or a heavily trafficked room thanks to the kids, one thing is consistent regardless: you need good lighting.

That said, effectively lighting a bathroom can be tricky. Small rooms and tight spaces can make it challenging when it comes to placing sconces, ceiling lights, and even light switches. Not to mention the bathroom needs to accommodate a variety of tasks that require different types of lighting.

Feeling overwhelmed? Don't worry—we can help! Here are three bathroom lighting mistakes to avoid.

Bathroom Lighting Mistake #1: Not Including Enough Light

It's easy to think one overhead light might be enough, but too little lighting can makes certain tasks difficult (such as shaving and applying makeup).

  • How to avoid this mistake: Layer your lighting. Simply put, layered lighting involves the use of multiple lighting types to create a well-lit and balanced space. Think ambient lighting for overall illumination; task lighting for specific areas (e.g. sconces mounted on either side of the mirror above the sink); and accent lighting for areas of interest (such as the cool mosaic tile in your master bath).
  • Pro tip: Make sure any lighting you select for the bathroom is damp-rated, and any fixture in a shower is wet-location listed.


Bathroom Lighting Mistake #2: Overlooking Color Temperature and CRI

Because LED bulbs and fixtures have become so prominent in the industry, manufacturers note what color characteristics the light output has. (Note: Research suggests that a light's color temperature can affect "sleep, alertness, performance and well-being.")

When it comes to color temperature, smaller numbers, such as 2700K, have a warmer appearance and resemble incandescent lighting. Higher numbers, such as 4000K, are cooler in appearance and resemble daylight. CRI, or color rendering index, describes how accurately a lighting fixture will reproduce color.

As you can see, considering color temperature and CRI is essential when it comes to lighting your bathroom.

  • How to avoid this mistake: When selecting your lighting fixtures, consider how you (and others) will be using this particular bathroom. A powder room might only need a welcoming feel for guests as they wash their hands, while the master bathroom might use both higher and lower color temperatures to help with applying makeup and relaxing.
  • Pro tip: Higher color temperature task fixtures in the 3000K range with a high CRI rating can help wake you up in the morning (and allow good color reproduction when applying makeup, for example). Lower color temperature fixtures in the 2700K range will create the warm, romantic spa-like atmosphere perfect for long soaks in the tub.


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Bathroom Lighting Mistake #3: Dismissing Dimming

Dimmable fixtures are invaluable in versatile spaces—and bathrooms are often just that.

While a vanity light at full intensity is perfect for primping and shaving in the morning, a bright bathroom can disrupt circadian rhythms at bedtime and during those quick trips in the middle of the night.

  • How to avoid this mistake: Seriously consider a dimmer for your bathroom lighting. Bonus: it can save energy and add to the overall ambience.
  • Pro tip: Talking to an educated lighting consultant can save you headaches. (Psst: our lighting experts are always happy to help.)

Do you need more bathroom lighting tips? We feature a variety of bathroom lighting fixtures in our showrooms. In addition, we have bathroom lighting labs to show you some approaches to keep in mind when selecting your lighting. Visit our online lighting resources where you can download our bathroom lighting guide and bathroom lighting worksheet for free.

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