Bathroom mirror lighting ideas are tricky, in part because they're so important. It's crucial to be able to see what you're doing as you get ready for the day, and harsh lights can make both you and your guests feel less than your best. If you're working with a small bathroom or powder room, space restrictions present an additional challenge.
Christina Garcia Lysaught of Layered Dimensions Interior Design recommends really examining what you want to use your bathroom for before deciding how to design your vanity mirror and bathroom light fixtures. "The most important thing to consider is if the bathroom will be used for function or form," she says. "Are you planning to use the space to put on makeup, shave, or get dressed? Or simply washing your hands? Is the room a place to impress guests or more of a private space? Each of these factors drastically impacts lighting selection."
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Lysaught adds that she leans toward a dimmable light fixture or impressive sconces for vanity lighting fixtures. Lorna Gross of Lorna Gross Interior Design agrees on the sconces but offers one more factor to consider before installing: placement.
"Whenever possible, I prefer to place decorative sconces close to eye level, which checks the boxes for function and fashion," she says. "I also really love a beautiful flush mount or chandelier placed as a focal point in the room surrounded by a few dimmable recessed lights for ambiance."
Too often, renovators pop in a ceiling light and leave it at that, but there are plenty of bathroom mirror lighting ideas that both provide a flattering glow and level up the style and functionality of the space. From decorative wall sconces to pendant lighting and dimmable lamps, here's what you can use in your own bathroom.
15 Bathroom Mirror Lighting Ideas
1. Go for a classic gold pair.
Two sconces can do wonders. When placed at the right height, they offer perfect, even light. In this Brentwood, California, home, a pair of gold sconces adds just the right dose of sophistication to a boho-luxe bathroom with bold wallpaper and a dramatic marble vanity.
Get the look: Goose Arm Globe Wall Sconce, $115.99
2. Install directly on the glass.
When you're lucky enough to have an expansive bathroom mirror that stretches across a double vanity, finding bathroom mirror lighting ideas that work isn't always easy. In this home, though, Amber Interiors solved the problem by installing modern wall sconces directly onto the glass. (Just be sure to hire a professional to tackle this project.)
Get the look: Hanaloa Wall Sconce, $50.99
3. Try a classic black and gold combo.
The primary bath in Emily Henderson's mountain home is droolworthy for so many reasons. But the sconce that sits above the floating vanity is especially lovely. The black and gold tones complement the neutral white bathroom palette.
Get the look: LNC Modern Black Bathroom Vanity Light With Gold Arm, $216.05
4. Edge it up with an industrial look.
The industrial lighting in this bathroom by Studio McGee presents a striking contrast to the marble countertops and natural wood cabinets. The petite bulbs add the perfect amount of softness. You could even DIY a similar industrial look in your own space by using exposed, energy-efficient lightbulbs as wall lights.
Get the look: Hinkley Fritz Vanity Light in Heritage Brass (3 Lights), $419
5. Add a pop of kid-friendly color.
In this fun family home by Chango & Co., there is personality galore. And the children's bathroom is both minimalist and colorful, right down to the light fixtures. Create a similar look by placing a single nautical sconce in a fun color above each mirror. A vase of brightly colored flowers will make the space even more lively.
6. Don't be afraid to go asymmetrical.
Make your bathroom feel instantly more upscale with pendant lights. In this charming guest bathroom by Kate Lester Interiors, two pendants hang at different heights from the ceiling. The asymmetrical lighting design offers an unexpected touch and tons of visual interest.
Get the look: Beachcrest Home Gault 1-Light Single Cone Pendant, $246
Bathroom mirror lighting matters a lot, even in the smallest of powder rooms. But that doesn't mean it has to call attention to itself. In this miniature space by Heidi Caillier Design, for example, a simple overhead sconce nearly fades into the background, allowing the bolder decor elements — like the stunning ceramic floor tile and vintage floating sink — to shine.
8. Opt for an integrated mirror light.
In minimalist, modern bathrooms, lighting can be a design challenge. How do you strike the balance between design-forward and low-profile? One perfect solution: Follow the lead of Davidovich Interior Design and opt for an integrated mirror light. It works as a glam makeup vanity too.
Get the look: allen + roth LED Lighted Mirror, $648
9. Use overhead lighting carefully.
Installing your lights over the mirror is quite a common design idea when it comes to bathroom design, but Lysaught wants you to do it with caution. She warns that if you're not careful, installing lights overhead can create shadows on your face while you're using your mirror.
"In my opinion, overhead lights give your face a lot of shadows that are not always flattering or forgiving," she says. "That said, sometimes, it is the only type of lighting that can fit in a tight space, so the specific selection is crucial." Keeping the light lower and closer to the mirror, as shown in the bathroom above, prevents shadows and keeps your reflection looking its best.
Get the look: Shades of Light Eli Vanity Light, $178
10. Go up instead of down.
Typically, you'll see bathroom lights that shine straight down, particularly canister lights or sconces with small lampshades. But why not aim the light upward instead? This will provide a gentler, more diffuse light. Layer it with a source of ambient light, like a simple flush mount on the ceiling, for balanced illumination.
11. Opt for long lights.
If you have a larger bathroom, larger wall lamps can be helpful by the mirror. This space features a two elongated light fixtures, one on each side of the mirror. The extra length ensures plenty of light, especially during the evening hours. Pair them with a dimmer to bring the light down low for some mood lighting while taking a relaxing bath in that massive tub.
Get the look: Livex Lighting Aero 2 Light Black ADA Wall Sconce, $131.90
12. Spread out your sconces.
Your lights don't have to be super close to the mirror to still do the trick. In this bathroom, a double vanity is accented with two matching pairs of mirrors and sconces for a near-symmetrical look. The large size of the fixtures makes up for their distance, and when paired with additional light sources, they can be part of a perfectly layered bathroom lighting plan.
Get the look: Yolsunes Modern Gold Wall Sconces (set of two), $74.99
13. Choose a dramatic light fixture.
Sometimes, you fall in love with a decor piece that's more fun than it is practical, and that's okay. The beauty of creating a lighting plan during your bathroom remodel is that you don't have to rely on just one fixture for all your light. In this space, a novelty pendant light hangs by the mirror, providing extra light for grooming and doing makeup. Meanwhile, a recessed light in the background does the heavy lifting.
14. Do something totally unique.
How many bathrooms have you walked into that had flowers for light fixtures? This bathroom, designed by Amanda Teal, features a sweet tulip-shaped light on each side of the mirror (which is itself uniquely shaped!). Novelty fixtures like these often offer form over function, but again, if you include other light sources in the room, you'll have the best of both worlds.
Get the look: Meridian 1-Light LED Wall Sconce in White, $183
15. Add mirrored lights.
If you have a dark, small bathroom, one creative way to add more illumination is with mirrored lights. In this bathroom by Jenn Feldman, a pair of wall lights is backed by mirrored plates, which will reflect the light and make it bounce farther into the room. Just make sure to choose your placement carefully so the light won't bounce directly into your eyes!
Get the look: Rivington Round Wall Sconce, $1,039