Bathrooms require both general and task lighting. Task lighting should be provided for each functional area – generally grooming at the vanity and showering. If you have a separate shower and tub, task lighting should be provided at both areas.
Placement of Bath Sconces: A pair of fixtures flanking a mirror above the sink provide excellent cross-illumination – eliminating shadows on the face. The fixtures should be mounted at eye-level. As a general rule of thumb, I place the center of the bulb at 5 feet 6 inches from the floor. The shades for these vanity sconces should be translucent glass or plastic so the light projects out toward your face. I usually use 23 watt fluorescent bulb (100 watt equivalent incandescent) bulbs for each sconce. They should be placed equi-distant from the center of the sink and 36” to 40” apart. If the sink is in an alcove, you can locate the sconces on the adjacent walls, see below.
General Lighting: Only for a very small room, you can rely on the sconces alone. For most baths, you also want separate general lighting. For the master bath, top, 4 identical sconces were used. Two are placed on either side of the sink. These sconces are mounted on top of the wall mirror – greatly expanding their illumination quality. Two additional sconces help create a sense of a nook for the soaking tub. A center ceiling fixture (not shown) provides general illumination.
In the master bath, above, again general illumination is created by ceiling washing sconces placed high on the wall. These fluorescent fixtures – one is shown, there are 4 in the room – create a bright overall glow in the fully tiled room.
Fan/Light Combinations: I often use an exhaust fan/light combination for a bath. In the bath above and below, I put the light/fan combination above the shower. Since the show creates a lot of moist air, this combination provides both functional light for the show and efficiently exhausts the moist air to the outside.
Remember that all light fixtures installed within tub and shower spaces should be marked “suitable for damp/wet locations.”
Hanging Fixtures: Generally, hanging fixtures aren’t used in a bath. By code, hanging no part of a suspended fixture, tracking lighting or ceiling paddle fan is permitted within a zone of 3’ horizontally and 8’ vertically from the top of the bathtub rim or shower stall threshold. Used near a vanity, they often get in the way of opening the door of the medicine cabinet. Robern has solved that problem by offering an uplift cabinet, see below. The door lifts up instead of out allowing for pendant lights such as the combination shown below.