Lighting for small bathroom

jssaustintxFebruary 3, 2012

Does anyone know if there is a calculation/formula for watts/sq foot for lighting?

The bathroom we are working on is only 8x6. I am not sure I have the width for side sconces so I will probably get an overhanging fixture with lights like sconces, i.e. with shades but hanging down.

Sorry no pics but on the 8' walls- the shower/tub and small closet line one side and the toilet and vanity on the other. So the space is really only 3.5 ft wide/not 6' when you factor in the 2.5' for tub. The door and a wall with a good sized window line those ends.

I have ordered a recessed can light that has a vent/fan built in that I planned to go over the shower. Are the two fixtures enough light? My BF thinks we need one more canned light smack dab in the center of the ceiling. I think that would look weird and if we add extras, 2 small ones would be better.

Are three canned lights PLUS vanity light overkill for such a small bath? Any thoughts and or suggestions appreciated!

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Put the the vanity lights on a separate switch from general ceiling lights and put them both on dimmers. Put the fan/light on a separate switch or timed switch, or see if the fan and that light can be switched separately and put the light with the ceiling lights and the fan completely separate so it can be run without the lights on.

Thats three switches (two with dimmers) and it seems like a lot but it will give you the most flexibility. You may want to crank it up for general cleaning and keep things dimmed most of the time.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2012 at 5:27PM
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jssaustintx: "The bathroom we are working on is only 8x6. I am not sure I have the width for side sconces so I will probably get an overhanging fixture with lights like sconces, i.e. with shades but hanging down. "

Austin, I am not going to address the question in the form that you asked it; I know that. But I may be able to offer a helpful comment nevertheless.

In 2010, we remodeled a powder room shaped similarly to yours. We looked into many options for lighting the room.

Our eventual solution: We installed a wall fixture above the sink on one of the short walls; the fixture comprised two bulbs, arranged horizontally like a weight-lifter's barbell. We put directional floodlights -- LED flood lights (Lowe's house brand Ultitech 40-watt equivalent LED, Model #: LPAR20DM/LED) -- in the fixture. The LED floodlights draw only 7.5 watts each for 320 lumens each of illumination. The bulbs point directly at the side (long-dimension) walls.

We refinished all four walls of the powder room with a very highly reflective wall covering. (At The Internet Wallpaper Store,, it is product 570631; see link below.)

Pointed toward the reflective side walls, the two 7.5 watt LED floodlights do a more than adequate job of illuminating the entire room. A bonus: the diffused indirect light is very flattering -- more flattering than direct light possibly could be -- to the complexions of those using the powder room, looking into the mirror above the sink.

Here is a link that might be useful: This is the wallpaper that we hung.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2012 at 10:50PM
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Hey all responses appreciated! Sounds cool herrings, but wallpaper won't be an option for us. Palimpsest- great suggestions! Hoping just the overhead vanity and one recessed 6" can light over the shower will suffice. Thanks! JSS

    Bookmark   February 9, 2012 at 9:59PM
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I may be too late but:
1. I totally agree with using dimmers and separate switching for lights.
2. If putting on makeup in this bath, lighting from the back of your head will create shadows and make things difficult especially as you get older. I didn't understand your vanity light, but hopefully that's the one that will adequately address the makeup issue.
3. I also agree that bright lighting for cleaning is important, again especially as you and the bathroom age.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2012 at 11:38AM
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