Lighting the Bathroom Mirror the Right Way

One of the most important parts of any bathroom is the mirror. When properly lighted, a bathroom mirror can be every woman's best friend. Have you ever wondered why some bathrooms can be so friendly and welcoming while others are harsh and uninviting?

The answer probably lies on proper lighting. Let's admit it; everyone spends a considerable amount of time in front of a mirror. We primp and preen in front of a mirror trying to fix ourselves in as many ways as we can. A mirror is an important tool in providing ourselves proper grooming. The mirror needs to be properly lighted so that spending time in front of it will be an everyday pleasing routine.

It is a challenge to provide good lighting for a mirror. Lighting a mirror properly will eliminate unnecessary shadows and provide good illumination for every user. Frequently, we see only a single ceiling fixture in a bathroom. Instead of providing a friendly illumination, this type of lighting only casts shadows below your eyes and hit your eyebrows, which are definitely unfriendly effects. Cross lighting is the key to good mirror lighting. Cross lighting includes direct light from above, both sides and below. Achieving this can be made possible through a wide range of available lighting fixtures. Glare from frosted bulbs or those fixtures with opaque plastic or glass shields should be avoided.

Decorators suggest that the sink's front edge and countertop should be illuminated with a light on the ceiling above the mirror. This could be a recessed task light that can be a round incandescent ceiling fixture that should be at least 12 inches in diameter with a bulb rating of 100 to 120 watts. You can also choose a fluorescent ceiling fixture above the sink. It is recommended that a fluorescent ceiling fixture above the sink should hold two 24-inch bulbs with 20 watt rating.

In order to complete the cross lighting, you should place light fixtures on both sides of the mirror. It is important to choose a light fixture that casts light in four directions – up, down and both sides. Rows of exposed incandescent bulbs with low wattage are especially designed to light mirrors. Pendants or wall-mounted fixtures are also common choices. These types of fixtures should be placed at eye level and should have at least 60 to 70 watt bulb. Fluorescent tubes are also favored choices because these utilize low electric consumption and last longer. Today, there are a lot of fluorescent tubes that are designed for vanity use and which provide a full spectrum light. A 24 inch 20 watt tube placed on each side of the mirror will create the required illumination. If your bathroom mirror is more than 24 inches wide, you can use a wall mounted light above the mirror and at the same time use the same type of fixture on the sides to complete the cross lighting effect.

Finally, for mirrors larger than 36 inches wide, sidelights may not be enough to provide the desired illumination. However this can be corrected by using powerful overhead light sources, which will be enough to cover even the mid section of the mirror that the side fixtures may fail to illuminate.