How to Choose the Right Bathroom Chandelier

Renovating your bathroom and seeking an elegant look? Find out if a chandelier could work for your space.

A chandelier can be a great option for your bathroom renovation if you are looking to make a statement and elevate the look of your room. Because they are available in a variety of shapes, sizes, styles and finishes, chandeliers can add an air of sophistication to many bathroom spaces. Here, design and electrical professionals share what you need to know to select and install a chandelier in your bathroom.

Room size. Chandeliers take up more space — physically and visually — than recessed lighting. Because of that, chandeliers look best in bathrooms that are at least 100 square feet, says Melissa Lewis, principal designer at Lewis Giannoulias. Lewis and fellow principal designer Cari Giannoulias even increase that limit to 150 square feet if their client wants a freestanding tub, walk-in shower and multiple vanities. “You don’t want to squeeze too much into the space,” Giannoulias says. “It’s just not a good idea and the chandelier will completely overpower the space.”You can make a chandelier work in a smaller bathroom, but choose a small fixture rather than a large one like the elegant chandelier seen here.

Ceiling height. You need overhead space to hang a chandelier. Building codes require this space so a light fixture is not too close to the tub and you won’t bump your head on it.

Before finalizing a design, you’ll want to confirm that the chandelier you pick and its placement meet local, state and national regulations, says Peter Mikulka, owner of Mikulka Electrical Services & Modern Home Concepts.

The National Electrical Code sets the standard for residential electrical safety. To pass inspection, a bathroom chandelier (or any light, fan or vent) needs to be at least 8 feet above the tub or 3 feet out from it.

A local, licensed electrician will be your best resource on electrical matters, Mikulka says. “We have to know all the rules. It’s our job.”

Because of the electrical requirements, a chandelier works best in bathrooms with high or vaulted ceilings.

When choosing a chandelier, consider the slope and height of your ceiling and how the fixture will interact with the rest of the room. For example, a wide chandelier will need to hang farther down from the ceiling of a sloped roof so it doesn’t hit the ceiling. To accomplish this, you’ll need a longer chain or rod.

Layout options. A chandelier centered over a tub — or the illusion of that placement — is Lewis’ and Giannoulias’ favorite location for a chandelier. “If you’re looking to make your tub the focal point, a chandelier will help emphasize it,” Lewis says.

Lewis and Giannoulias designed this long, narrow bathroom to make the tub the focal point. The bathroom’s opposite sides mirror each other, and the windows draw your eye to the end of the room, near where they placed the tub. Overhead, they installed a gold and crystal chandelier.

If your ceiling height doesn’t allow you to hang a chandelier directly above the tub, Giannoulias says you can get a similar look by installing the fixture a few feet in front of the tub. “As long as when you are entering the room and everything looks centered, it will give the illusion of a grand chandelier above the tub,” she says.

Or you can hang the chandelier in the middle of the room. Here, the designer hung the chandelier in the middle of the room and centered it between the sinks of the double vanity.

If you have a separate shower and tub, and both are prominent in the room, hanging the chandelier in the middle of the room can provide balance to the design, Lewis says.

Material considerations. Lewis and Giannoulias like to use chandeliers made from light-colored materials to keep the ceiling area open and airy.

Right now, they say, brass is a popular finish, but they are more fond of antiqued brass. If you aren’t into trends, polished nickel “has been around forever and will never go out of style,” Lewis says.

When using vintage pieces, the designers like to mix and match metals throughout the bathroom. But if Lewis and Giannoulias are working with new pieces, they will use the same metal finish to keep the room clean and cohesive, and because it’s easy to find matching hardware and fixtures.

Size and shape considerations. If you have a grand bathing area, you can go with a grand chandelier. Lewis says to use the shape of the room to guide you to the best chandelier option.

In this room, the design team used a round chandelier that emphasizes the circular shape of the room and the surrounding windows.

Conversely, a small chandelier can work in a smaller bathroom. The owners of this 60-foot bathroom in Missouriwanted a little jewelry on the ceiling, and the designer made it work. So if you like the idea of a chandelier but your space is limited, use this bathroom remodel as an example of what’s possible.

Style options. You can find a chandelier to go with almost any style, Lewis and Giannoulias say. “We let the style of the overall bathroom guide us toward which light option works best,” Lewis says. When you start browsing, you’ll find everything from over-the-top glam crystal chandeliers to more traditional fixtures with fabric lamp shades.

Lewis says they typically avoid fabric shades because they can get water spots on them or fade. But you can find fabrics that will withstand a wet environment and continue to look great, if that’s a style you like.

Cost range. If you’re looking for a grand chandelier, Lewis and Giannoulias recommend spending at least $500 to $1,000.

If you’re also having the light professionally installed, expect to pay about $150 for that service.

Electrical concerns. Regardless of the style you choose, ensure that the light fixture is rated for a wet environment, Mikulka says. “For me, that’s always the most important factor,” he says. “Electricians don’t really have much concern about whatever looks pretty. We only care that it’s safe.”

Next, make sure all the electrical elements in your bathroom connect to GFCI-rated outlets. If an electrical current were to flow into the tub or another location that could cause injury or damage, the GFCI device would trip and shut off the power.

Switch placement. People typically forget about the placement of the light switch when designing a bathroom, Mikulka says. He recommends installing the switch next to the bathroom door. “You don’t want to walk into a dark space to turn on that light,” he says. “That’s not convenient or safe.”

You also don’t want to be able to reach the switch or adjust the lighting from the tub because touching electrical switches while in water is unsafe. Instead, he says, install the switch near the door and out of reach of the tub, even though people are tempted to put it near the tub.

Best time to add a chandelier. Add the chandelier during a bathroom remodel, Lewis says. It’s easier to update or install electrical needs when the room is already under construction.

If you’re updating only the light fixture, keep in mind that you might need to repair and repaint the ceiling if the electrician needs to open it up to install wiring.

Installation time. You can have a new chandelier up in a day. If you need to assemble the chandelier, it can take up to two hours, Lewis says.

Whom to hire. Lewis, Giannoulias and Mikulka all recommend hiring a professional. “You want the electrical work to be 100 percent right,” Lewis says, “and you want your chandelier investment to last and be safe.”

By Brenna Malmberg, Houzz

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