It's very easy to fall in love with bathroom pendant lighting ideas because they truly offer several benefits at the price of one. Apart from the task and ambient lighting, they also give the bathroom a decorative and sometimes dramatic touch. In fact, just one beautiful pendant hanging next to the mirror or above the bathtub can immediately uplight the mood of a staid space.
Pendants like the name suggests, are truly like little jewelry pieces for the bathroom. With their wide variety of available designs and materials – wood, metal, crystal, recycled plastic, and more, and from a long list of design styles – contemporary, farmhouse to traditional – there are choices galore in bathroom ideas when it comes to cool lighting.
Brilliant bathroom pendant lighting ideas
'As with any other room in the home, different activities within the bathroom will require different lighting levels and qualities. Some activities require good even light levels so that you can see what you are doing, whereas you might want to change the mood and dim the light levels for a nice relaxing bath,' Grant Robertson, interior design leader at IKEA UK & Ireland (opens in new tab) says.
A pendant can be a purely decorative piece hung by a corner in the bathroom, or it can fill in as task lighting for a large space. If it's working as the former, then diffused or lower lighting output might be more appropriate. If it's the latter, then a high wattage bulb can do the job.
In terms of designs, you can choose from downlight, inverted, cluster, encased, exposed bulb, and globe pendants. Take a look at some of our expert-recommended striking pendant lighting ideas.
1. Consider the use and need of the pendant
Before you jump into picking a piece for your bathroom, it's important to determine your taste and desired aesthetic. Take a look at your bathroom in its entirety. A hanging pendant may or may not cast light in the entire room but will impact the look of the overall space. 'The purpose of the pendant must clearly be defined, whether it is for aesthetics or to illuminate the space or to highlight a corner or create an ambient mood in the bathroom,' advises Natasha Aggarwal, founder and principal designer of NACL Studio (opens in new tab).
Think about these questions: Is there space for one pendant or more in your bathroom? Every room ideally should have four types of lighting: ambient, task, focused, and decorative. Can your pendant fill in for two of those requirements? Also, in your enthusiasm to use a pendant, are you overcrowding the bathroom with too many lights?
One of the topmost tips for bathroom wall lighting ideas is to build the illumination in layers. Ideally, wall sconces paired with pendants and spotlights should be enough. If it's a small bathroom, a pendant and two spots can seal the deal. In terms of types of pendants, if your bathroom is appropriately ventilated, then dry-rated light fixtures can work well and be hung next to the vanity, the toilet, or in the center of the room. Choose wet-rated fixtures for above the bathtub or shower.
2. Plan its location appropriately
When you think of pendants, what's the first place that comes to mind? You're probably thinking next to the mirror or in the center of the room. Good thing is, pendants are supremely versatile in design so they can be suspended in many different ways and placed in different locations in a modern bathroom. In small bathrooms, it's probably best to hang one mid-size piece in the center of the room so it dissipates light evenly around. For eye-catching vanity lighting in large bathrooms, experiment with a line of pendants or a long cascading piece.
A pendant with a distinctive architectural look can also illuminate a changing nook with built-in seating or a sculpture. Mini versions can be used to illuminate the area above the toilet and two pendants can be hung above the jacuzzi as well. The ideas and possibilities are unlimited. So go crazy!
3. Consider the size and number of pendants
This is perhaps the biggest consideration. No matter how much you may love a particular pendant, it's not necessary that it'll fit into your bathroom's design. In fact, a small space with a low ceiling might not be suitable for a pendant at all because there may not be enough space to hang it. If a bathroom ceiling lighting is essential to you, then a small pendant with minimal drop could work.
Of course, bathrooms with very vast and high ceilings are open to supersized to mid-sized pendants though not a small one as it may appear proportionally incorrect and provide little or no light.
Also, it might be a good idea to have more than one pendant to create more of a statement. Three smaller pendants over a basin for instance, might have more impact than one central one.
4. Choose pendant lights that are green rated
Consider sustainable living and opt for energy-efficient bathroom pendant lighting. These lights reduce excessive overhead load and still create a warm, well-lit ambiance. With LED lights and sensor detection, you can reduce your overall costs. And, what’s more, sustainable pendants made out of bamboo, wicker, or recycled plastic (with bulbs encased within them) help lend an earthy vibe to the space.
'Pendant lamps can be used in the bathroom to create atmosphere and support different styles, and can be an elegant alternative to more functional bathroom lighting; however, it is important that they are bathroom approved and have the right IP rating for the area you are using them in,' offers Grant.
5. Use it like an ornamental feature
Beyond lighting, pendants enrich your décor. So, select those that complement your overall bathroom style. Or, give the space a unique, eye-catching style with pendants in bright colors or dramatic shapes. 'Dramatic pendants could be linear lights with an exposed bulb on a cord or even just a random-shaped metal form. In the image above, the pendant light acts as an ornamental feature as well as helps in creating an ambient mood in the bathroom. Bare minimum wattage of 3w-5watts is what works for pendant lights to give the space the soft glow it demands,' says Natasha.
You could go for a bold statement light to create a vignette. If you have a large bathroom, use a stylishly large pendant and place a pouf or a sofa under it.
6. Know how to hang it next to a mirror or shower
Pendants are great alternatives to scones and can be hung on either sides of the bathroom mirror. You want to be careful about the height at which they are hung, such that they aren't too low lest you bump your head when leaning over the sink, or too high that the lighting piece and its illumination get lost. A typical height for a pendant is 30 to 40 inches above the sink or counter, although it can be adjusted based on the height of those using the sink.
'In a small vanity area, we like to get creative in the ways we hang our vanity lights. For this bathroom, the ceilings weren’t very tall, but the client is quite tall so we knew the mirror had to be hung at a certain height. This limited our ability to do much with the lighting above the mirror.' says Kirsten Blazek, creative Director, A1000XBETTER (opens in new tab).
'For those reasons and to keep things symmetrical, we chose to hang two smaller-sized pendant lights rather than installing wall sconces. We also like the way the pendants created a “ moment” around the mirror. We like to break up visual space with our lighting, so hanging height is important. Always think about where the light will hit in relation to the placement of your decorative wall mirrors and make sure they always are lower than the top height of the mirror.'
7. Consider dimmable pendant lights to create a mood
Dimmable bulb pendants with LEDs are such a blessing. These are great for creating mood lighting and are super flexible. The brightly lit bathroom in the evening can become a softly-lit space during bedtime. Also, during nighttime visits, the dim lights show you the way inside the bathroom without hurting your eyes. These lights are also designed to last long, and are built with resistance to vibrations and impacts, plus are far more efficient than incandescent bulbs and other lighting options.
8. Fall in love with high tech pendant lights
Bathrooms aren't the same traditional spaces they used to be. With advancing technology in automated homes, the systems, fittings, and elements of this space have become smarter and sleeker. While many of you may have heard about self-cleaning toilets and remote-controlled showers, there's a brand new world of smart tech in lighting too that is opening up.
'In terms of lights, there's been a huge upgrade thanks to technology. One can purchase a smart light bulb that has Bluetooth speakers, and it can retrofit into a bulb holder. You can connect it to your phone and change lights too. My favorite is Antonio Lupi’s Apollo collection where the wall fixed light has a shower function too. So the piece lights up the room and also works as a shower,' architect Karan Desai says.
Are pendant lights good for bathrooms?
Standard light fittings are the norm in bathrooms: we're talking about bulbs, tube lights, and sconces. But when it comes to decorative or design-savvy bathrooms, pendants hold a strong, steady position. So yes, the answer is that ideally, a pendant light is a good idea for bathrooms.
These can be used in a bathroom as a light-layering source, meaning they aid in the overall illumination of the room. They can work as the central lighting fixture for ambient lighting in a room (with added spotlights or sconces), and even brighten up the ceiling with their downlight reflections. Pendants can be task lights, for the mirror, vanity, or storage space. They help add character to the bathroom and even add a new design dimension.
How high should bathroom pendant lights be?
This completely depends on the size and height of the bathroom. For starters you could consider the below:
1. Scale of the room: The size and style of your pendant in relation to the space should be considered. You don't want an overly big pendant for a small room or vice versa.
2. Look at the ceiling height: The general rule is to hang lights by 8cm for every 30cm above-standard ceiling height. Or keep a distance of 7ft between the floor and the tip of the hanging light.
3. If unsure, use masking tape: Sometimes you may have the measurements in place but you may still be unconvinced about how the light will look in the bathroom. The biggest issue is when people 'think’ they know the size of the pendant in relation to the room in a space. Use masking tape to mark out exactly where your pendant will be placed and hung. See the testing height and determine if it all fits.
Aditi Sharma Maheshwari is an architecture and design journalist with over 10 years of experience. She's worked at some of the leading media houses in India such as Elle Decor, Houzz and Architectural Digest (Condé Nast). Till recently, she was a freelance writer for publications such as Architectural Digest US, House Beautiful, Stir World, Beautiful Homes India among others. In her spare time, she volunteers at animal shelters and other rescue organizations.
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