When it comes to lighting in your bath, all is certainly vanity. Kidding aside, the kind of lighting you install in your vanity ultimately has more to do with how you look than how your bathroom looks to others.
Uneven lighting over the make-up table or sink can cause your eyes to look like you haven't had sleep in weeks. Poor vanity lighting can dramatically alter how you look when in the office or out on the town. If you're the handyman/woman, you don't want to skimp on providing adequate overhead lamps, mirror-side sconces, and light bars.
Getting Your Bathroom Lighting Right Ultimately, the correct lighting around the mirror will light up the subject's face from all sides. It doesn't have to be flattering in an inaccurate way, but take it from the hospitality industry: warm, full lighting provides a satisfying experience. Experts at This Old House warn consumers that overhead, recessed lighting fixtures cast shadows of the undead on a subject's face.
Fill-in, accent lighting can make the entire bath a comfortable place, and lighting above the mirror with sconces at eye-level can complete a satisfying effect. You'll also prosper from an aesthetic standpoint by using halogen bulbs that illuminate the subject with natural tones. Some homeowners love the effect created by installing a bathroom chandelier just above the vanity.
Low-wattage track lighting angled just right projects lighting into the mirror, and diffusers prevent glare. You may want to experiment with LED track lighting for effect.
Using Sconces in the Bath You can create a warm and well-lighted effect by using a row of sconces above the mirror. Or, if you're settling on single sconces, align them on the side of the mirror. Lighting suppliers recommend that your above-mirror vanity fixtures should be at least two-feet long and provide 150 watts at the minimum.
If you really want to dial in control of your bathroom lighting, consider installing an incandescent dimmer on a halogen light. You can save energy when you're lighting the bath just to find your way around or to use the shower. A combination of ambient lighting and direct vanity lighting on separate controls can provide the most-flexible solution.
If you're working with a contractor, discuss options to install lighting directly in the mirror set. It can be expensive and risky to try it on your own.