8 Best Bathroom Vanity Lights To Liven Your Space
Choosing bathroom vanity lighting requires balancing dimensions, design and desired task lighting. Here are a few of our top picks.
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What To Consider When Buying Vanity Lights
Finding the perfect vanity lights for a bathroom can be tricky, since they’re equal parts design and task lighting. The right lighting also helps people with delicate bathroom tasks — applying makeup, shaving, catching a stray eyebrow, tweezing a sliver — and can have a big impact on self-image.
A few things you should consider when shopping for your bathroom vanity lights:
- Size/location: “Vanity lights are the fixtures installed near a mirror, either above or next to,” says Andra DelMonico, lead interior designer of Trendey. “If you’re installing your vanity light over a mirror, the light should be about 75 percent of the width of the mirror. This keeps the mirror and the light looking balanced while ensuring there is enough light created for the vanity.” If you have double sinks, choose two matching lights or separate sconces rather than one long light fixture.
- Light warmth: Bathrooms are often one of the darkest rooms in the house, so the right temperature, or warmth, makes a difference. Designer Sara Sain of Sain Homes says to check bulb or fixture packaging for its Kelvin rating — the way we categorize how warm or cool light is. That’s the key to the right warmth. “The wrong Kelvin on the bulb can change how you look from drab to fab,” she says. “A good warm but natural light recipe is 3,000K. It’s bright, but inviting, without being too gold or too clinical.” Also, check the packaging or product or bulb specs for the Color Rendering Index (CRI), which measures how like natural light it is. A rating of 90 to 100 is the closest to natural light and/or the incandescent light bulbs most of us use to judge color.
- Damp/Wet ratings: Fixtures marked with damp or wet ratings indicate they’re safe for humid bathrooms or near water. Important for fixtures in the ceilings of showers or bathtubs for safety, this also may affect how a product finish wears or ages. If water can land on the bulb, consider a damp or wet rating. But your bathroom has a small sink, away from lights, it may not be as critical.
- Built-in lights: Watch out for fixtures that have LED lights built in, rather than bulbs. Although they can be long-lasting, you often have to ditch the entire fixture when the light eventually goes out. It doesn’t necessarily make them nonstarters, but you should be aware when you buy.
Versatile Two-Light Sconce
This barbell-style sconce, which can be installed vertically or horizontally, is super hot right now, so it earns top marks for trendiness and versatility. Thanks to its damp rating, it’s great for humid bathrooms and should last a long time. It comes in four finishes: polished chrome, black-and-brass two-tone, antique brass and antique bronze.
With two 60-watt bulbs, it can throw up to 120 watts of clear, warm light. It can be paired with a dimmer switch, too.
Tara Wall Light
The modern feel comes from subverting and elongating a classically traditional shape, which traditionally features a shade. The fixture can support a 75-watt bulb, so it can also throw a significant amount of light without needing a lot of real estate on the wall. Finishes include aged brass, old bronze and polished nickel.
Paris Market Vanity Light
This vanity light earns top marks because it offers an aesthetic that’s increasingly difficult to find. For people with historic or older homes but uninterested in modern or rustic farmhouse lighting fixtures, this option work well.
In the right environment, the aged finish looks appropriate. Three bulbs under clear seedy glass can throw up to 300 watts of warm, uninhibited light.
Hollywood Vanity Bar Light
For an updated take on the Old Hollywood globe-bulb mirrors, this vanity bar light nails it. The warm, frosted-globe, five-bulb light provides the right illumination for applying makeup, and the design easily takes it into a more stylistically versatile era.
The bar fixture has some design, but not enough to overpower a petite room. It could fit in a bath or powder room with its touch of art deco, Hollywood Regency or even traditional design.
Monroe Quadruple Sconce
If you’ve got or are dreaming of a bathroom full of white subway tile and barn wood accents, then Pottery Barn’s Monroe is tops for your style.
With four bulbs, this will throw bright light right over your vanity. It’s offered in black, black-and-brass and chrome finishes to accommodate your other hardware. Edison bulbs make this fixture really glow, and it’s compatible with a dimmer.
Stix LED Bath Bar
For the ultimate in minimalist modern and a slim profile, the Stix LED Bath Bar by Sonneman Lighting has you covered. The metal-and-acrylic fixture comes in three finishes (white, black and aluminum) and four sizes (18, 24, 32 and 40 inches).
Damp-rated and ADA compliant, it will work safely in bathrooms and powder rooms. It packs a stylish punch and throws a CRI of 90 and a temperature of 3000K.
Melange Pill Form Sconce
This sophisticated yet playful splurgey sconce comes from maximalist interiors master designer Kelly Wearstler. It’s natural alabaster stone, curved into an oversized pill shape and ringed with sleek aged-bronze, brass or polished-nickel metal.
It looks natural placed vertically on either side of a medicine cabinet while emitting a warm, flattering light, almost like frosted glass. The fixture can also be installed horizontally if the space calls for it. One thing to note: You must use LED bulbs.
Amer 3 Gold Dimmable Vanity Light
The splashproof pearlescent cloth shades should stay fresh and new longer than traditional ones. Maxed at three 40-watt bulbs, it will throw 120 watts of light. It comes with a two-year warranty.