The Essential Bathroom Pendant Lighting Guide: Plus Ideas for Unique Hanging Lights
One of the most important rooms in your house, the bathroom is also one of the smallest. From master baths to half-baths, space is often at a premium—enter the simple pendant light to save the day. Pendants add big style and brightness while taking up minimal space. Read on to learn about the many types of pendant light styles and how to choose the ideal hanging fixtures for your bathroom project.
Best Types of Pendant Lights for Your Bathroom
Small and simple. Large and lively. Pendants come in a wide variety of styles, colors, and shapes—so the best fixtures match your aesthetic and your bathroom. Here is a rundown of the versatile pendant light styles and where they’re a good fit:
Down light pendants. These pendants showcase an open bottom, usually with an upper shade to focus light downward, good for task lighting above a vanity.
Inverted or bowl pendants. These feature a shade on the bottom that directs light upward to reflect off the ceiling. The style is perfect for centered ambient lighting or above bathtubs.
Linear pendants. Whether they feature one long strip of lights or a single long light in a casing, these hanging lights deliver bold style. Choose modern, traditional, or eclectic linear pendant styles to hang over a vanity for task lighting or within a large alcove.
Cluster pendants. These light fixtures usually feature two, three, or more lights hanging close together for dramatic effect.
Encased pendants. In these pendants, a covering ‘encases’ the bulb (or bulbs). The casings come in a wide range of styles and materials, from clear, sculpted glass to frosted glass to metal ‘cages.’ Many have a lantern style look that is perfect for transitional style bathrooms. They are an attractive option for vanity lighting, or they can serve as the main light in a small bathroom with a high ceiling.
Exposed bulb pendants. A single hanging Edison-style bulb, or a cluster of exposed bulbs brings mod elegance to your bathroom. These fixtures can brighten separate makeup vanities or changing areas in large bathrooms, or deliver unique style and ambient light to half baths.
Chandelier pendants. Chandeliers are pendants with outsized personalities. They bring ambient lighting and style over the bath or jacuzzi, or in the center of bathrooms with high ceilings.
Globe pendants. Pendants with round and oval clear globes or frosted glass-encased bulbs provide bright light for tasks when installed above the bathroom vanity. Large size globe pendants also provide soft ambient lighting above a bathtub.
Pendant Light Placement In Your Bathroom
For functional and inviting light in your bathroom, it’s always helpful to think in layers. This lighting strategy combines ambient, task, and accent lighting for activities and for aesthetics. Versatile pendant lights provide all three types of lighting.
- One colorful pendant light positioned in the center of the ceiling of a small bathroom.
- A line of pendants above the bathroom vanity for task lighting.
- A pendant within a distinctive architectural element in a large master bath. This could illuminate a changing nook with built-in seating or a sculpture.
- A large pendant with multiple bulbs can serve as ambient lighting and a style statement in the center of a large bathroom.
- Use mini pendants to illuminate the area above the toilet, especially if it’s set apart from the main section of the bathroom.
- Two or more pendants above the bathtub or jacuzzi lend your bathroom a spa-like spirit. Choose pendants with amber-tinted frosted glass coverings for a soothing warm glow.
Can Dry-Rated Pendant Lights be Used in a Bathroom?
Yes—so long as your bathroom exhaust fan is in working order. With proper ventilation, dry-rated light fixtures work well over the vanity, the toilet, or in the center of the room. They aren’t for use over the shower; only wet-rated fixtures are safe where there’s direct exposure to water. You can install damp-rated fixtures above the tub because they can withstand slightly higher moisture levels than dry-rated lights. (Note: The bottom of the fixture should be at least eight feet above the top of the tub wall.)
How Low Should You Hang Bathroom Pendant Lights?
The versatility of pendant lights is part of their appeal. When hung from a covered decorative cord or a chain, you can adjust the height to the perfect position for your bathroom.
Here are some things to keep in mind when considering pendant light height:
- Over vanities, the bottom of the pendant should fall above the top of the mirror.
- Pendants placed to the side of the vanity mirror can hang slightly lower, but should still be above head height.
- If you have low ceilings, make sure your pendant lighting is not in a high traffic area (i.e., close to the doorway or above the route to the sink or the toilet.)
- For bathrooms with vaulted ceilings, hang the pendant from the center beam for balanced lighting.
- Over tubs, pendants are only a good option if the ceiling is high. For safety reasons, the bottom of the fixture should be at least eight feet above the wall of the tub. Also, you should position the pendant several feet away from the tub water source. If you want to place a pendant over a jacuzzi, speak with a professional electrician about safe installation because of the extra steam.
Choose the Perfect Bathroom Pendant Lighting Style
Beyond lighting versatility, pendants enrich your décor. Select pendants in styles that complement your overall home style. Or, give your bathroom a unique, eye-catching style with pendants featuring bright colors or dramatic shapes. Here are the many styles of bathroom pendants to consider:
Beachy and breezy, coastal pendant fixtures trend toward clean, soft tones. Nautical by nature, these lights sometimes feature cages in distressed metal finishes reminiscent of lighthouses and fisherman lanterns.
These lights combine a range of latter-20th century design elements and feature soft, clean, and curved lines. They are sophisticated yet subtle and blend beautifully with a variety of décor styles.
Known for elegant simplicity that stays above the trends, Craftsman fixtures have a homespun warmth. The style often blends materials such as metal, dark wood, and glass, with colors leaning toward brown and amber.
Contemporary and casual, farmhouse lighting is both refined and comfortable; on-trend and traditional. Think iron frames balanced by linen fabric shades, or a simple candelabra surrounded by weathered wood and rustic metal finishes.
Bring on the glitz with glam-style pendants. This is a style to use sparingly, but a glam pendant makes a statement in a guest or hall bathroom—and will likely spark a conversation.
With a nod to diverse cultures, this style is all about natural materials, distinctive silhouettes, and bold design. The earthy colors and materials, such as rattan, call to mind far-flung, exotic locations.
Warm, rich colors dominate this classic and elegant lighting style. You’ll find traditional fixtures with frosted glass shades, subtle metal accents, and Old-World designs with an unassuming beauty.
Transitional pendants mix the best of modern and traditional style elements. Look for classic lines and contemporary materials, such as brushed chrome and frosted glass globes.
Unpretentious and straightforward, rustic pendant lights deliver an earthy and welcoming style to your bathroom. Look for pendants crafted with a mix of weathered wood and metal in light brown and cream hues.
Pendant lights are also great in rooms beyond the bathroom. Learn how to choose pendant lighting for your kitchen, bedroom, living room, foyer, and even outdoor spaces.