The ideal lighting at a bathroom vanity uses a light on each side of the mirror, the crossover of light eliminates shadows allowing you to see well for make-up application and shaving. The worst lighting at a vanity is the single overhead spot which casts horrid shadows under your eyes, nose and chin, not attractive or functional.
In this bath with the shades cutting down on the brightness of the sconces we used an overhead spot to supplement and add a nice accent on the bowl. Note the dramatic fixture in the adjacent space lighting the water closet.
Of course every design rule has exceptions. Here we did not have the width for side sconces and the cabinet in the center. The wife has a separate make-up table, and the husband shaves in the shower, so they chose the storage over the lighting quality.
The other little feature we always include on bathroom lights is a dimmer, I hate being blinded first thing in the morning. We have had great success with Ariadni dimmer from Lutron, it is simple, inexpensive (around $15) and reliable, it functions like a normal switch and the little slide along the side sets the brightness level.
Bruce Gingrich is a residential designer and custom builder based in New Holland, PA. His company, Glenn Gingrich, Inc. is a design, build, remodel firm that executes projects from conception to completion. His functional insight, meticulous planning, building expertise, and customer collaboration can give you the living space of your dreams.