Tips for Finding the Best Lighting for Your Bathroom Vanity Mirror

The bathroom vanity is an essential part of a home but can often get overlooked. It plays an important role in self-care and is vital to many daily routines. Because of this, the best lights for a vanity mirror offer adequate brightness and are appropriate for the style and size of the bathroom. In addition, they must be properly positioned to emit diffused lighting that reduces shadows being cast on the face, which is essential when shaving, grooming, or applying makeup.

Quick tips for vanity lighting:

  • Avoid asymmetrical lighting as it can cause uneven illumination, making grooming difficult.
  • Stay away from recessed ceiling fixtures over the sink; they can cast shadows over the face.
  • Use dual lighting sources for large vanities to avoid dark spots in unexpected places.
  • Add supplemental lighting as needed in larger bathrooms to ensure adequate general lighting.

What Is a Vanity Light Fixture?

In the most general terms, bathroom and vanity light fixtures are mounted over or alongside the bathroom mirror. They provide task lighting and aesthetic ambiance but are not expected to be the only light source in the space unless the bathroom is small. Once considered a functional necessity in the bathroom, today’s vanity lights are also a feature that brings the room’s design together.


Ginkgo 26 Inch Wall Sconce by Regina Andrew

Beautiful color, intriguing wallpaper, and stunning Ginkgo 26 Inch Wall Sconces by Regina Andrew convey old-style glam and decadence in this small bathroom. It’s an excellent example of how to make the most of vanity lighting to create a beautiful, cohesive design.

@interiorsolutionsbymary, photography by @theenglishden

Savoy House Monroe 24 Inch Wall Sconce

Savoy House Monroe 24 Inch Wall Sconces flanking a trio of mirrors adds sophistication to this traditional yet minimalist space. Featuring a long sleek body, white fabric shade, and classy, contemporary silhouette, these sconces provide an even, flattering wash of light throughout the bathroom.

How High Should My Vanity Lights Be above the Mirror?

Space and design preferences often influence whether to place lighting alongside a mirror or above it. The most common location for bathroom wall sconces is on each side of the vanity mirror to provide light for the entire sink area. The general rule is to mount sconces at approximately eye-lever, usually 65-70 inches from the floor. This placement illuminates the face without causing shadows. The configuration of the design, how big the area is, and how many mirrors it has will determine how far apart they should be placed.

Placing vanity lighting above the mirror is also a popular option, especially in bathrooms with limited space. In this instance, the best height is 78 inches from the floor. Another option is placing the lighting fixture on the side wall, close to the back wall, 65-70 inches above the floor, or at eye level.


Hubbardton Forge Brooklyn 10 Inch Wall Sconce

The opal glass shades of the Hubbardton Forge Brooklyn 10 Inch Wall Sconce emit soft illumination right where needed. The oil-rubbed bronze finish and forged steel shades bring industrial appeal to this bold bathroom d├ęcor. The wallpaper in shades of gray softens the room’s black-and-white palette.

@stella.interiors, photography by @kielyramosphoto

Hinkley Lighting Ana 25 Inch Wall Sconce

A pair of Hinkley Lighting Ana 25 Inch Wall Sconces make a significant impact over the vanity in this small powder room. The heritage brass finish and faceted clear crystal glass embody modern elegance, spreading a warm glow throughout the room.

Should Vanity Light Fixtures Be Wider Than the Mirror?

There is no absolute right or wrong regarding light fixture size in relation to mirror size. It’s really about scale and balance. The light fixture should generally be the same size or smaller, but there are exceptions. If the light is not bulky, it can be wider than the mirror as long as it doesn’t overpower the design.

When placing the vanity light over the mirror, a good general rule for getting the scale right is to consider the size of the vanity, mirror, and light fixture as a pyramid. The mirror should be slightly smaller than the vanity, and the light slightly smaller than the mirror, creating a pyramid effect.

When installed vertically, vanity lights can be up to two-thirds the mirror’s width; unless the vanity is oversized, they can be about the same width as the mirror.

@karilawsondesigns, photography by @garykurns

Drake Wall Swing Lamp by Savoy House

The lighting in this luxuriously large bathroom with three mirrors and two sinks could quickly become problematic. But following the pyramid rule, the Drake Wall Swing Lamps by Savoy House sits comfortably atop the mirrors, allowing plenty of illumination to flow through the pristine glass shade. Its simple, sophisticated style, understated details, and vintage appeal create visual interest as they augment the natural light streaming through the windows above.

@lisaritchieinteriors, photography by @wearefreebird

Asime 21 Inch Wall Sconce by Mitzi

Adding plenty of lighting without taking up a lot of visual space, the Asime 21 Inch Wall Sconces by Mitzi playfully mixes classic and contemporary elements to add personality to this bathroom. The embodiment of form and function, their thoughtful design takes the room from practical to optimal.

How to Choose the Right Vanity Lights for Your Mirror

The lights for a vanity mirror present the perfect opportunity to introduce character and personality into the design aesthetic of the bathroom. With so many choices, this is a great way to make a statement. Whether you choose to match finishes or mix them, take into consideration how the lighting will work with the other design elements in the vanity and bathroom to create a cohesive design.


AERIN Cristol 15 Inch Wall Sconce by Visual Comfort Signature Collection

Two AERIN Cristol 15 Inch Wall Sconces by Visual Comfort Signature Collection are mounted directly onto the mirror in this unusual arrangement. With cabinetry creating a boundary, they follow the pyramid rule to be in perfect proportion with the sink and make an impact on the room’s design. Two white orbs divided by a fluted base fully illuminate the bathroom with a beautiful warm glow.


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