You'll need even, shadow-free lighting for applying makeup, shaving, or caring for hair. It should illuminate both sides of the face, under the chin, and the top of the head. Plan to use at least 120 incandescent watts. Never aim lighting into the mirror. Decorative sconces installed on either side of a small mirror at face height do the job nicely. Place them no higher than 60 inches above the floor and at least 28 inches but not more than 60 inches apart, unless you pair them with another vanity light source.

If fluorescent side lights are mandated by your local code, use the deluxe warm-white fluorescent bulbs that more closely resemble natural light. Install them up to 48 inches apart for sufficient lighting and supplement them with recessed or surface-mounted ceiling fixtures. A large mirror used over a double vanity will require a different approach: treat each lavatory as a separate task area and light each one.

The excerpt above is from Design Ideas for Bathrooms by Susan Boyle Hillstrom, published by Creative Homeowner. The book presents ideas and solutions for creating an up-to-date bathroom. It includes coverage of the latest master baths, family baths, powder rooms, accessible designs, fixtures, and spa amenities. It will help homeowners make design decisions and product choices based on lifestyle need.

Susan Boyle Hillstrom is the former editor-in-chief of House Beautiful Special Interest Publications. She frequently writes about home design and remodeling for national publications from her home in the western Catskill Mountains in New York. For purchasing information, visit