Bathroom lighting ideas over mirrors – 10 rules for side and over mirror lighting

These bathroom lighting ideas over mirrors will inspire you to transform the lighting scheme in your shower, wet room or bathroom

Bathroom lighting ideas over mirrors
(Image credit: Future)

Bathroom lighting ideas over mirrors are an integral design element that should be planned at the start of any shower room, wet room or bathroom project.

When it comes to bathroom ideas, whether you like contemporary, traditional or somewhere in between, light fittings are built into the very fabric of the room, providing not only bright, general light over the mirror to help with tasks such as shaving, but also ambient light for mood, which may involve a number of applications. 

Here, we focus on the best bathroom lighting ideas over mirrors, and offer expert advice on how you can get the balance of beauty and practicality just right.

Bathroom lighting ideas over mirrors – 10 ways to brighten your space

From overhead lighting with luxe looks to practical bathroom vanity ideas with lighting, and ideas for more decorative bathroom lighting ideas over mirror and vanity units, this advice-packed list will help you find the best options for your room.

1. Install task lighting over a mirror

Bathroom lighting ideas over mirror with side lights and vanity

(Image credit: Rei Moon/Moon Ray Studio)

Task lighting, as you might imagine, provides light for specific tasks. In the bathroom, these could be putting on make-up or shaving so it's likely you'll need task lighting around your bathroom mirror ideas. Installing wall lights either side of the mirror works well, or you could consider a mirror with integrated lighting. Don't position downlighting straight above your head; it'll cast unflattering shadows across your face.

2. Put your bathroom lighting on dimmer switches

Bathroom lighting ideas over mirror on dimmers

(Image credit: James Merrell)

Many of us want a luxury bathroom to be a sanctuary and, ideally, one that is individual to us,' says interior designer Charu Gandhi, founder, Elicyon. 

'Functionality is critical to the success of the room and underpins its luxuriousness. Without the practical skeleton in place – from lighting to ventilation – the aesthetics will be diminished.'

'Good lighting also contributes to the luxurious feel of the space. Lighting on different circuits and dimmers can include low-level LEDs under vanity units to provide a soft glow at night, and over mirrors to provide efficient task lighting for night time routines.'

3. Hang wall lights on either side of a mirror

Bathroom living ideas over mirror and basin

(Image credit: Jon Day)

‘In a small shower room or powder room it is crucial not to underestimate the importance of good lighting,' says Mary Graham and Nicole Salvesen, founders, Salvesen Graham. 'This should always include decorative wall lights either side of a mirror to provide a softer, more flattering light for the face as well as a decorative feature.’

4. Use discreet LED lights over a mirror

Bathroom lighting ideas over mirror with LEDs

(Image credit: Anna Stathaki)

Good quality LED bathroom lighting ideas will provide a more attractive quality of light and color rendition - discreet, low glare fittings work best. 

The reason they are a great option when it comes to bathroom ideas is because they are easy to integrate into a control system, creating a responsive layered lighting scheme that takes a bathroom from bright on the darkest morning to spa-like relaxation by night. 

Employing smart bathroom ceiling lighting ideas over a mirror – and washing the walls with light – gives softer illumination, and can highlight a leading feature, such as a stone wall or statement vanity.

5. Go for symmetry with lighting over a mirror

Bathroom lighting ideas over mirror and pendant

(Image credit: Future)

Be generous with your bathroom lighting. The more sources of light you have, the more moods you can create. A pair of wall lamps and overhead LEDs are a great way to add impact to a vanity unit or statement basin, and  will have a bigger visual effect than using only one light source. 

If you want to create a smart, designed look then go for symmetry – paired lamps at either side of a mirror will frame the design and highlight any architectural elements around them and give a structure to your scheme.

6. Balance functionality with beauty

Bathroom lighting with side lights next to mirror

(Image credit: Future)

Task lighting is generally concentrated around the vanity and mirror. Here, you need bright light but think about installing spots or LEDS in vertical rows down the side of mirrors as opposed to above, to give a more flattering light with less shadows. 

In small bathrooms, look at mirrored cabinets with integral lighting as a simple but effective solution.

7. Light up a vanity

Powder room with blue wallpaper and vanity

(Image credit: Drummonds)

With the correct bathroom lighting trends, your room can take on different looks throughout the day and night.

Don’t overlook wall lights when planning your bathroom lighting over mirrors. Downlighters especially have become very popular, with an array of different styles, that are perfect for illuminating your bathroom vanity ideas or for adding interest and ambience to a focal wall.

'It is important to illuminate the mirror and your face with task lighting. A light source on the left and right sides of the mirror, such as two decorative wall lights, will create a shadow-free, flattering light, useful for putting on make-up or shaving,' says Sally Storey of John Cullen Lighting.

8. Use mirrors to amplify light in a bathroom

A marble bathroom with a double vanity and wall lights

(Image credit: Davide Lovatti/Future PLC)

Using smart small bathroom ideas can open up the space. A large expanse of mirror will not only help boost size but can amplify light levels, too. 

We recommend taking a layered approach to bathroom lighting over a mirror. Use a selection of small ceiling spots, uplighters, downlights and LEDs to create a restful, sophisticated scheme that is both practical and stylish.

9. Invest in a statement pendant

Bathroom lighting ideas with pendants over mirror

(Image credit: Future)

In recent years, bathroom lighting trends have included the use of pendant lighting in the shower and bathroom, often taking the place of traditional wall lights. 

Bathroom ceiling lights – in the form of pendants – can create an interesting design feature but it also puts task lighting where it is needed on the countertop of a vanity, brightening skincare rituals and teeth cleaning routines.

10. Consider strip lighting over a mirror

Bathroom lighting ideas with strip lights

(Image credit: Future)

LED strip lighting at a low level is great at lightening the load in a small space, giving the impression that furniture or even walls are floating. 

Chris Jordan of Christopher Wray advises illuminating just above a bathroom mirror with low wattage lighting that reacts to motion sensors.

'This will help you see what you are doing without having to turn on the main lights, which can be difficult for your eyes to adjust to and may inhibit your ability to return to sleep. 

'Motion sensors are particularly handy in the middle of the night and in the morning too,’ he adds.

Should bathroom lights hang over a mirror?

The short answer is yes, you should fix bathroom lights over – or, on either side – of a mirror if you are planning efficient task lighting in a bathroom, powder room or shower room.

Lights fixed on both sides of a bathroom wall mirror cast an even light across the face, ideal for applying makeup or shaving, while the mirror itself provides a reflective surface which also amplifies a spacious feel.

As with all bathroom lighting ideas over a mirror, for safety reasons it is important to use waterproof fittings that are specified as suitable for bathroom use – and use a licensed (qualified) electrician to carry out the installation work. 

Jennifer Ebert

Jennifer is the Digital Editor at Homes & Gardens. Having worked in the interiors industry for a number of years, spanning many publications, she now hones her digital prowess on the 'best interiors website' in the world. Multi-skilled, Jennifer has worked in PR and marketing, and the occasional dabble in the social media, commercial and e-commerce space. Over the years, she has written about every area of the home, from compiling design houses from some of the best interior designers in the world to sourcing celebrity homes, reviewing appliances and even the odd news story or two.