Bathroom Sconces

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Lighting is a key piece when designing a space that feels inviting and functional—especially in the bathroom. With their unique blend of style and utility, bathroom sconces can transform your everyday rituals into moments. Today, I’m teaching you everything you need to know about the world of bathroom wall lights, also known as sconces. I’ll also uncover how these fixtures can elevate your space while providing valuable use.

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

Elegant bathroom sconces on either side of a vanity mirror.
Design: Tiffany Leigh Design, Project Alton House. Photography by Patrick Biller

The Magic of Bathroom Sconces

Bathroom sconce lights are more than just lighting fixtures! They are pieces of decorative art that add layers of light, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Strategically placed, they can enhance the aesthetic appeal of your bathroom, making it look more spacious and luxurious. Whether you’re applying makeup or unwinding in a bubble bath, the right bathroom sconces can set the perfect mood.

The trend of incorporating sconces around bathroom mirrors is gaining momentum, and it’s easy to see why. This stylish approach elevates the bathroom’s aesthetic appeal and enhances functionality by providing balanced, flattering lighting. Positioning sconces at eye level on either side of the mirror eliminates harsh shadows and ensures even illumination, making tasks like applying makeup or shaving much easier. Embracing this trend adds a touch of sophistication to your bathroom and significantly improves the quality of light where it’s most needed.

Want to learn more about lighting? Learn designer tips here.

Vintage-inspired bathroom sconce lights adding charm to a classic design.
Design: Tiffany Leigh Design, Project The Wattson House. Photography by Patrick Biller

Types of Wall Lights for Your Bathroom

Wall sconces in bathrooms serve not only as light sources but also as elements of style and design. The placement and type of sconce can significantly influence the ambiance and functionality of the space. There are two primary arrangements for bathroom wall sconces: those installed on either side of the mirror and those positioned above the mirror.

Side-Mounted Sconces

Side-mounted sconces are placed on both sides of the bathroom mirror – or sometimes in between 2 mirrors. This type of installation is highly effective for eliminating shadows on the face. This provides even illumination that is ideal for grooming tasks such as applying makeup or shaving. Side sconces create a balanced lighting environment and ensure the most flattering and functional lighting. So, this setup is often best for mimicking natural light sources, offering a soft, diffused light that enhances visibility and aesthetics.

Above-the-Mirror Sconces

Above-the-mirror sconces are mounted directly over the mirror, providing a top-down lighting effect. This arrangement is particularly useful in bathrooms with limited space on either side of the mirror or as an additional light source to complement side sconces. When installing sconces above the mirror, choosing fixtures that cast light downwards to minimize shadows and provide adequate illumination for the vanity area is important. Above-the-mirror sconces can also serve as a focal point in bathroom design. They offer opportunities to make a stylish statement with decorative fixtures.

Bright, natural light filling a beautifully decorated bathroom.
Design: Tiffany Leigh Design, Project Alton House. Photography by Patrick Biller

Choosing the Right Bathroom Wall Lights

Selecting the perfect bathroom sconces involves more than finding a design you love; it’s about functionality, harmony with your decor, and creating ambiance. Here are some tips to help you make the right choice:

  • Consider the Size and Placement: The size of your bathroom sconces should complement the space without overwhelming it. Placement is also crucial. So, mounting them at eye level on either side of the mirror reduces shadows. It also provides the best lighting for grooming tasks.
  • Style Matters: Bathroom wall lights come in various styles, from vintage charm to sleek modern designs. Choose sconces that match your bathroom’s theme to create a cohesive look. Consider creating a mock-up to add sconce images to see how they look; learn more here.
  • Lighting Needs: Think about the type of lighting you need. Soft, diffused light is perfect for creating a relaxing ambiance, while brighter, more direct light is ideal for tasks like applying makeup or shaving. Is this a powder room or a primary bathroom?
  • Energy Efficiency: Consider LED bathroom sconce lights for energy efficiency and longer lifespan. They will reduce your energy bills and offer various lighting options, from cool to warm tones.
  • Cleanability: You want to feel clean in the bathroom, so consider this when selecting a sconce. Some may collect more dust than others, especially if they have a fabric shade.

Want to learn more about bathrooms? Learn more here.

Warm, ambient lighting in a cozy bathroom setting.
Design: Tiffany Leigh Design, Project Alton House. Photography by Patrick Biller

To keep your bathroom on-trend, here are some popular styles in bathroom sconces:

  • Minimalist Designs: Sleek and simple bathroom sconces fit beautifully in modern bathrooms, adding a touch of elegance without overpowering the space.
  • Industrial Chic: For a more edgy look, industrial-style bathroom wall lights can add character and a bold statement to your decor.
  • Vintage Revival: Classic and vintage-inspired sconces bring warmth and nostalgia, perfect for adding a timeless charm to your bathroom.
  • Smart Sconces: With technology integration, some bathroom sconces now come with smart features like dimming and voice control, offering both convenience and modernity. Smart bulbs can also add this functionality; learn more here.
Double sconce between 2 thin gold mirrors, above a dark wood vanity.
Design: Tiffany Leigh Design, Project Alton House. Photography by Patrick Biller

Bathroom Sconce Placement

For optimal lighting and aesthetic balance, a bathroom sconce should be mounted with the centre of the fixture approximately 60 to 65 inches from the floor, which usually translates to about 18 to 24 inches above the countertop, depending on the mirror and vanity height.

Additionally, when positioning sconces alongside a mirror, they should ideally be placed about 4 to 6 inches from the sides of the mirror. This placement ensures the light is evenly distributed across the face, minimizing shadows and creating a flattering illumination while also complementing the bathroom’s overall design.

This is just a general guideline. It is important to choose what works best for your bathroom and design and to ensure the overall look is balanced. I recommend using painter’s tape on the wall to mark the proposed locations to be sure before installation.

Moody bathroom, with oval mirror and sconce above the mirror. Bathtub with bubble light above.
Design: Tiffany Leigh Design, Project The Wattson House. Photography by Patrick Biller

What Style is Right for You?

Incorporating bathroom sconces into your decor is a bright idea that can significantly impact the look and feel of your space. Whether you’re doing a full renovation or just looking to refresh your lighting, bathroom wall lights are a versatile choice that can bring beauty, functionality, and ambiance to your daily routine. Remember, the right lighting can transform your bathroom from merely functional to a serene sanctuary where every moment is a pleasure.

Bright bathroom with double shaded sconces either side of two thing framed mirrors above a double vanity.
Design: Tiffany Leigh Design, Project Copper Beech Build, Photographer Lauren Miller


Are sconces good for bathroom lighting?

Yes, sconces are excellent for bathroom lighting as they provide both decorative appeal and functional, focused light ideal for grooming tasks.

What is the most flattering lighting for a bathroom?

The most flattering lighting for a bathroom is warm, diffused light that evenly illuminates the face without harsh shadows, often achieved with sconces placed at eye level on either side of the mirror.

Should bathroom sconces face up or down?

Bathroom sconces should be installed facing up if you aim to create a soft, ambient light by bouncing light off the ceiling and walls, and facing down for more direct, task-oriented lighting.

Where should sconces be placed in bathroom?

Sconces should be placed at eye level on either side of the bathroom mirror to provide the best illumination for grooming tasks, typically around 60 to 65 inches from the floor to the centre of the fixture.

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