The Most Ignored Building Code In America – Chandeliers Over Bathtubs

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In my last post, I shared that before my computer crashed last week, I had found a beautiful chandelier that I wanted to use for our master bathroom, and I wanted to put it above the bathtub. It looked almost identical to this chandelier, but the price was about half of this one.

So yesterday, I went on the hunt for the cheaper version of that chandelier that I had previously found, and in the process, I found this one I like so much better.

Bubble chandelier from Chandelieria

I love that light so much!! I would have already snatched it up except for one thing.

During my whole search for the illusive cheaper version of that first chandelier, I started thinking whether or not I should even be putting a chandelier above the bathtub. After all, most chandeliers above bathtubs are a violation of national building code in the United States.

Are you aware of this? I was. I’ve been aware of it for years, and yet, I’ve put chandeliers above bathtubs at least three times in the past. And obviously, it’s not just me. If you go to Pinterest or Houzz or Instagram, you’ll find literally hundreds and hundreds of examples of chandeliers being installed above bathtubs.

It took me about five minutes this morning to collect 74 images of chandeliers above bathtubs on Pinterest. Here’s a sample of them…

Go to Pinterest and put “chandelier over bathtub” in the search and check it out yourself. And these pictures are coming from builders, designers, decorators, bloggers. I saw pictures from very well-known magazines, and even a couple that were from a Parade of Homes, which means that the builders signed off on this and knew that hundreds of visitors to the Parade of Homes would see it and some would be inspired by the idea.

(Note: If you’re reading this post on any website other than Addicted 2 Decorating, that means you’re reading on a site that is stealing my blog content. I hope you’ll consider joining me on my actual blog by clicking here.)

You can go to Houzz and search the same thing with the same results. It took me about three minutes to find over 30 examples of chandeliers over bathtubs on Houzz.

I know some of you may be thinking that some of those chandeliers are hung high enough that a person standing in the tub can’t reach them. And that’s true. I’m only five feet tall, and without shoes and standing flat on my feet, my reach is 76 inches. I’d probably be able to touch very few of those chandeliers when standing in those tubs (although there are a few that are ridiculously low, and I could definitely touch them).

But the building code might shock you. It says that the lowest point of the chandelier (including any non-electrical parts like crystals or baubles of any kind that are attached to the light fixture) must be eight feet above the highest point on the walls of the bathtub.

So that means that with the bathtub I’m using, which stands at just under 24 inches high, the lowest part of a chandelier above the tub would have to be 10 feet from the floor. Well, that’s a little hard to do when my ceiling is eight feet high. In fact, that would be virtually impossible to do in any bathroom with a ceiling less than 12 feet high. I mean, with 11-foot ceilings, you could get away with some kind of large flush-mount or maybe even a semi-flush mount. But finding statement light fixtures that don’t hang any lower than 12 inches from the ceiling is virtually impossible.

So that means that close to 100% of the chandeliers you see installed above bathtubs in America are a violation of national building code. And yet, we see them all over the place, including very nice shelter magazines, Parade of Homes, HGTV, builders’ websites, and all over Pinterest, Houzz, and Instagram.

Why do you think this is? Seeing that this is being done just as much by builders and designers as it is by regular homeowners and bloggers, ignorance is certainly not an excuse. Builders and designers know (or should know) the building code, and yet so many of them choose to ignore this particular one.

Which brings me back to my bathroom. I desperately want to join these thousands of people, including builders and designers, who ignore that building code. I want that bubble chandelier above my bathtub, hanging from my 8-foot ceiling. I can see it in my mind, and I think it would be stunning. And since I don’t climb on the sides of a tub, and my reach is only 76 inches, I can’t see how that chandelier could ever be a danger to me hanging above the bathtub — a bathtub that will never be used by anyone but me.

Because if I go the responsible way, and get a statement light to be hung in the center of the room where people will be walking through the room, that severely limits my options. Like I said above, finding a statement ceiling fixture that can be used on an 8-foot ceiling and leave enough clearance below for walking is incredibly challenging. But I did find a couple that I like.

This first one is a light that I’ve loved for years. And if I’m ever going to use this light anywhere, this bathroom would be my last chance to use it because our future master bedroom and family room will both have ceiling fans (a necessity in Texas), and I already have lighting I love in all the other rooms.

And the second one is kinda sorta like the bubble chandelier in that it gives that same bubble/cloud look.

Vega brushed brass flush mount light from CB2

So here I stand at these crossroads. Do I follow the path of the other designers, builders, bloggers, homeowners, magazine publishers, etc., who ignore this building code, and in doing so, get exactly what I want in a room we’ve been waiting years for and that we’re paying tens of thousands of dollars for? Or do I have to be the adult in the room who says, “That’s against building code. I’m going to find other options that meet the building code.”

What would you do? If you were paying about $30,000 for a top-to-bottom custom bathroom, and your vision included a chandelier above the tub, what would you do?

And if you were a blogger who shares pictures of her home online, potentially seen by hundreds of thousands of people, would your decision be different?

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  1. Knowing it’s against code I’d scrap that idea: You know better, other designers know better. (The chandy over the bathtub is the new shiplap.) For theat olive leaf ceiling mount light I’d move on with no regrets! As an aside, I could see Krafty Kristi ‘recreating’ the olive leaf light with something breathtaking.

    1. Robin, I agree. Once I’m aware of how something is required to be done, I can’t unknow it. Kristi, as a well-followed blogger, if you choose to do the change, you must include the information about code when you post doing it. Kind of like reminding people about protective diy gear even when you don’t follow 100%. People are learning from you.

    2. Kristi do what makes you happy. I know you want the bubble chandelier. What could be more perfect. You have proven time and time again that you know what you’re doing. Also even building codes need updating. Building codes today are different than ten years ago. Lifetime too short. Do what makes you happy. Yes if an accident happened it could end in tragedy. On another note you walk out your front door and get hit by a bus. Fate us fate.

    3. The olive leaf fixture is very pretty but cleaning it every week would get tiresome. It looks like it would attract dust and hair. Whatever you choose is sure to look great though!

  2. Oh good heavens, I’d raise the roof for that bubble chandelier. That is beautiful and what could be more perfect than bubbles above the tub.

    1. There’s an idea! Since it’s a bungalow, raise the ceiling over the tub area! Would be extra work, but would also be stunning!

    2. You answered yourself…

      “That’s against building code. I’m going to find other options that meet the building code.”

      Perhaps most of those showcased fixtures are not wired in? Also, what if it fell in the tub, while it was full of water – and a person!

      You could make a ceiling mounted “Bubble Artwork” that resembles a chandelier but has no wiring or electricity.

      1. Oh, Kristi, hang your lovely chandelier. If you and Matt ever sell, replace it to meet code.

        1. That’s exactly what I would do! Hang it securely and forget it! You can post pics on this site of another light fixture….then change it to the bubble fixture later!!

        2. I agree! Hang up what makes you happy! The tag on the mattresses say not to remove and how many people remove it?! I understand the code but your not going to be able to touch it. I mean I have a tv on the wall above my tub.

  3. Could you set the bubble light slightly forward so it’s not directly over the tub but would appear so in photos and still meet building code?

    1. It IS adorable, but there are some things that just aren’t meant to be. You bought a house with fairly low ceilings—so be it. Everything you’ve done is perfect. I’m serious. Every single touch you’ve put in to your home is exactly right for you and Matt.

      But you are a blogger. You are in the public eye. And if something bad happened to SOMEONE ELSE because of YOUR decision and example…I don’t think you’d feel very good.

      My opinion—everyone has one 🙂

  4. I would follow the building code, it’s the right thing to do. Now, you may want to confer with your local code enforcer to determine that this rule is still in effect.

    1. I remember a prominent interior designer mentioning this code and her solve was to hang a stunning light fixture, but have spots on the ceiling just outside the tub’s perimeter cast light upon it…
      OR could a pair of statement sconces on the mural wall with golden leaves and crystal’s do the trick?

  5. This: Or do I have to be the adult in the room who says, “That’s against building code. I’m going to find other options that meet the building code.”

  6. Most people that install the “chandy” over tub do so after any code inspection so they would generally be aware of it. I think what they are doing is doing a risk vs. reward calculation and if the tub is only used for baths and you don’t splash etc. then the risk is very low. Code on the other hand has to take into account every form and is meant to protect people from doing stupid things that could be a danger to someone. If you do decide to go with the light I’m sure you can do your own risk determination whether it would potentially be an issue for you. My guess is you are not in the risk category with splashing water all over or spraying water that could get in contact with the electrical parts etc. so if you feel comfortable that you wouldn’t do any of the things that would cause an issue then go with the “chandy” you like.

    1. Oh and the damp proof part that is needed to keep the fixture from becoming unsafe I’m not sure will matter much in your situation as it would likely apply the same to the wall sconces by the vanity. It does in our bathroom as that area and the separate tub have the same humidity conditions when using the shower or the tub in our bathroom. BTW I have a recessed approved light above the tub because I’m not a “chandy” person and prefer the clean lines of recessed lights over surface mount in the ceiling, but the code in this case wouldn’t stop me from getting one. To be on the safe side you could inspect it regularly to make sure nothing has deteriorated. Also make sure to have good ventilation in the shower or it will be more an issue on the light fixtures than the tub likely will be.

      1. One more comment. I think part of the code distance is so that you can’t touch the ceiling fixture at some point while you’re in the tub. So as long as you’re aware of that and don’t think that accidentally someone would be touching the fixture while in the tub (I’m saying accidentally as I’m assuming no one would do so on purpose) then your risk is also very low. The ones that hang down more I think would be a much bigger concern on that than the one you’ve selected. Consider accidentally if someone is standing up and slips and fling their arms up as high as they can. If that is unlikely to happen that they would touch the fixture then it is a much lower risk.

  7. Do it! Just don’t touch it when wet. : ) Even if it fell from the ceiling into the tub with you, the wires wouldn’t still be connected. You have more chance of being electrocuted when changing a lightbulb! I say go for it!

  8. I’d put it over the tub. You’ve waited forever for it. Everyone else does it. So put up the chandelier

  9. As much as I love a good chandy over the tub photo, we didn’t go that route for the code issue. My husband was concerned if it violated code and we had an injury or claim that it could be denied due to the violation. It wasn’t worth the risk for his peace of mind.

    1. Dione, I agree. My thought when I read Kristi’s post was that I hope that Krisiti and Matt never have an insurance claim in her bathroom because the insurance companies look for anything they can to deny a claim. I am a Lending Officer and it always amazes me how unexpected things happen and how insurance companies can be so brutal even after having their client submit no claims for decades.

      With that said, I actually think the Vega Brush Flush Mount would be my choice. It just looks like the clouds in that gorgeous wallpaper and it has a similar look (i.e. continuity factor) to the one at your Studio back entrance.

      Your bathroom is going to be a dream. I look forward to seeing the process!

      1. I agree with Dione and Linda. And I love the Vega Brush Flush Mount, Linda has a point about it looking like clouds in front of your mural.

    2. The insurance nerd in me agrees with you. This would definitely be a reason for why a bathroom related claim would be denied.

  10. Hmmmm…..we built a home for my folks on the Washington coast in 2007. It had a spa tub and we installed a small chandelier, nothing fancy or overly large. I’m going to have to search for pics now after reading your blog as the house was sold a few years ago. Apparently, the building inspector passed it because this is the first time It’s been brought to my attention. What to do? Whatever design you decide to go with will dazzle and chandelier lovers will be none the wiser 🥰

  11. I wouldn’t want a chandalier over my tub. There could be instances where the height and reach of a person might be irrelevant. How about children splashing water around or a break in your spigot that might throw water toward the light. Or a fall while repairing or replacing the lights. Better to be safe than sorry.

  12. My town requires light fixtures and fans to be UL approved for over-the-tub installation. I don’t know if the pretty ones that you’ve shown are or not. One thing that comes to mind is do the baubles get hot? If so, any splash of water can potentially cause those baubles to shatter and then you’re in a tub full of sharp glass. Maybe you can find something that is plastic and water area rated

      1. I agree with the leaf design over risking a code violation. My daughter had a tiny chandy over their tub in their first house. They had installed it after moving in, and found out later that it was against code. When they were ready to sell, they put the original light back in since they wanted to keep the chandy for their daughters’ room. If you do go with the leaf light, it doesn’t seem to put out much light, so I would consider a few can lights just in case, run on their own circuit. I myself never use a tub, and hubs uses it maybe 10 times a year, but our electrician still refused and said it wouldn’t pass, but said if we wanted it, we could do it later, *wink-wink*, but he knew nothing! We didn’t bother.

    1. Far too often, “codes” are because there are senseless people that do stupid stuff, and then sue. Thereby, ruining it for the rest of us.😑

    2. I would put up the bubbly chandelier. You have thought it through and you will be careful. If and when you sell your house, switch it out with something that is code.

  13. Just last week I saw a post on FB where a lady was really injured because the glass light above her tub/shower had broken and rained down on her. Besides cutting her, she injured herself more trying to get out of the tub. Now she is off her feet for 6 weeks to heal. I have never lived where there was a light like that. Thank goodness.

    1. Yes, you never know what kind of freak thing can happen that you hadn’t considered! Be the adult!

  14. After one of the larger earthquakes in Southern California, I heard someone on the radio say “I had one of the most California things ever happen. The chandelier fell into the bathtub.”

  15. Ugh. If I wasn’t a blogger like you, I would still put it above. However since you’re a blogger, I would either switch design to be appropriate, even if you install one for the blog, and remove and install the second for your personal use. This is like a business vs home life situation. I do think you have an obligation to do it right- and you do everything really well and thoroughly; this wouldn’t be a time to cut corners. Plus you already know what you’re going to essentially do, since you already brought it up (it’s against code). Just my two cents.

  16. Hi Kristi–Hmmm what a tough choice. I’m a rule follower so I know what I would do despite the aesthetics :).

    So tough when you know the right thing to do vs what everyone else is doing. Is there any wiggle room with your state code? Maybe that’s what others are doing.

    I know it will look beautiful whatever you decide.

  17. A crazy idea popped into my head………………could you install a recessed light above the tub and then design a “chandy cover” that has bubble light “globes” that the light would shine through.

    1. I was going to suggest this also! You could even find plexi globes that would not present the problem of broken glass pieces falling into the tub but would give the ‘bubble’ effect.

  18. The olive leaf fixture is beautiful — and my personal favorite! Using it would allow you to avoid the whole “up to code” vs “against code” dilemma while still looking stunning!

  19. What about using a pair of gorgeous sconces on the wall behind the tub? Look at those Serena and Lily for a starting point. Putting any kind of hanging light over a tub seems very dangerous to me. I would not.

  20. Use your own best judgement—a decision only you will have to live with, and that’s really what matters.😊

    1. I disagree. With Kristi being a blogger and having images on her page that show she has done this, she opens herself up to a lawsuit (I would think) by showing it. If someone only sees the photo, and not the statement that it is a code violation, they could say others (not just Kristi) had shown it was okay to do. I think anyone can take the chance on their own, but a slick lawyer would find a way to nail someone (not just Kristi) on whatever they choose! There’s always ONE PERSON who will get you not following law! That said, if Kristi chooses to go with a chandelier, I would advise to not show it hanging above the tub without a disclosure ON THE IMAGE! See no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil! 😉

  21. Hi Kristi,
    I owned the Crystorama Broche olive leaf light you have pictured. While it is beautiful, I was disappointed to realize that the light it puts out is very minimal. In hindsight, I suppose it’s pretty obvious that the opaque leaves don’t leave much room for the 240 watts of light to escape. Just wanted to let you know. I had it in an office and recently replaced it so we could actually see in there. ☺️

    1. I figured it wouldn’t put out much light. Light fixtures, for me, are more like artwork/sculptures than actual functional lighting. I’ll have plenty of recessed lighting in the room that will act as general lighting, plus sconces on either side of the vanity mirrors.

  22. I prefer the leaf light! I think your wallpaper should be the star of the show! And the leaf light speaks to the wallpaper I.e. birds, trees, leaves 🙂.
    What about sconces on the wall? Is there a code for that too?

  23. I wouldn’t just in case a insurance claim was made , for a slip in the shower!, we all know the accessors will look for a way not to payout.

  24. I hung a chandelier over my tub, after we got our occupancy permit, but I have 10 foot ceilings and standing in my tub I cannot touch the fixture. I think the biggest concern is grabbing it by accident when standing up in the tub. If it’s out of your reach then it would seem okay in your situation. I don’t think water splashing is something you would probably be concerned about.

  25. Since this is a personal bathroom for you and Matt alone, I’d put it and enjoy it knowing that should you sell one day, it may have to go at some point.

  26. I know you are having some of the bathroom construction done by a general contractor. I am assuming you may have discussed this dilemma with them.
    Did they have any suggestions? How much further out from the tub would the light have to hang and would the new position make it look like an odd location in the bathroom? Surely you can have your cake and eat it too.
    I am thinking by moving it a bit it will still look great and still meet code.

    1. It would have to be three feet from the edge of the tub, and I’m assuming that would be the outermost edge of the fixture and not the junction box. So that would put it very close to the center of the room, in which case I’d just hang the light in the center of the room.

  27. The big round globes remind me of the big one you used in your studio by the french doors.

  28. I’m frankly surprised at the number of responses saying don’t do it, and especially those that are tying it to what’s “right” or moral. I think that’s ridiculous. Many times codes aren’t for you, they’re for a future buyer and a broad range of the populace. You are a grown woman who knows how this bathroom will be used and you have the knowledge and intelligence to do the calculations on whether or not it is a potential danger. Get what you want and then before selling the house (when you’re 80) switch it out for a flush mount.

    1. As a licensed home inspector, I think safety over cosmetic – so….Keep in mind – it’s a multi–part rule. It has to be three feet away from the tub OR it has to be 8′ higher than the top of the tub AND it has to be rated for damp locations. So it’s not just about how high, but how its rated. What the rule and the DIYers don’t say is it MUST be properly secured to the ceiling for the weight of the fixture so it doesn’t fall in your tub on you. Otherwise you might as well install the Texas Chainsaw Massacre knife set above the tub for that zombie-movie-lover-chic look. Linear lighting with remotes, perimeter up lighting and surround lighting can look amazing. Put the beautiful light fixtures over the dining room table or if you really love it, put it in the walk-in bath closet – no rules, just as awesome. Yeah – all that from a girl home inspector 🙂

  29. Get the chandelier. I have had 5 flush mount lights over my bathtub in an attempt to satisfy this code and was unhappy with all of them. I was driving myself crazy over something with such a small probability (like getting hit by lightening). I am sure that is the reason why most people are ignoring the code. Finally, I installed a chandelier and ignored the code. So happy with my chandelier!

  30. I wasn’t aware of the code. It makes sense, but I just keep remembering that when I house-sat at my sister’s while she was on vacation, I took a bubble bath in her big fancy corner tub because my apartment at the time didn’t have a tub, just a shower. When I stood up to dry off, I discovered that the chandalier (one of those brass candalier monstrosities with the fake plastic candles) was so low that just standing up straight put it as low as my ears! I didn’t get hurt, just startled that standing up I hit the light fixture! We live in Indiana and this was a house in a large subdivision….nice but tract houses nonetheless.

  31. Are there chandelier loop holes such as if the electric line is GFI can you legally do it? I ask because an electric panel can not be behind a solid exterior door. Most back doors to garages are solid BUT if you put a half light door the panel is no longer behind a solid door. Thus the spirit of the regulation was followed of not the law. It’s madness out there 😉

    1. I’ve read lots and lots of comments on electrician and building forums online, and I have yet to come across a loophole for this one. They all say across the board that it’s against national building code. 🙁

      1. I love love love your bubble light. Just makes me smile However the olive is amazing with your theme. Feels like a Japanese garden, sitting beneath a tree. Lovely

  32. My hubby and I have built several homes, and to be totally honest, quite a few building codes are in place just for “out of abundance of caution” situations for the general population. Since this is your personal home, I wouldn’t hesitate to install your chanty, it’s not like you have a house full of kids that would squirt water on the ceiling and light fixture. And I don’t think showing it on your blog would be irresponsible since there are literally thousands of other pictures with these same types of light fixtures above tubs. I say install that gorgeous chandelier and enjoy every second of it!

  33. I have a tiny toleware chandelier over my tub. I knew it wasn’t in code. I also knew that I can’t reach it easily and that I’m the only one using that tub. Further, I knew we could switch to a recessed light if we decided to sell. You should put in the chandelier if you want it! You can always replace it with a recessed light later. I don’t think it makes you more of an adult to follow a code in a space owned by you, loved and dreamed up by you, designed by you, and used by you.

    1. I should edit to say, I don’t think it makes you more of an adult to follow every safety code BLINDLY. You think through what the point of the code is, why it is in place, and then see if that applies to your situation. It doesn’t seem to, in my opinion. 🙂

  34. I have had one over my tub for 25 years now–the builder never mentioned it being an issue–go for it and use the knowledge about the code as a safety lesson

  35. Kristi,
    in Australia a chandelier can be mounted above the tub as long as it is run on a dedicated 12V power source; ie a seperate line from the fuse box which converts to the lower and less dangerous voltage in the roof space. I was literally discussing this last week with my electrician. I hope this information helps

  36. I do adore a chandelier over the tub! While I may hang one in my own main bedroom ensuite bath, I wouldn’t be posting photos of it or recommending it for others online. The olive leaf light fixture is absolutely stunning! I wouldn’t miss having a chandelier if I had that light fixture.

  37. I’d be concerned it might invalidate your homeowners insurance. Not sure of the policies in the US but it definitely would in Australia.

  38. Having worked for insurance companies I wanted to mention that if something happened I that room they might point out that you were in violation and determine not to pay.

  39. Kristi, you have been trolled before and there are some mean-spirited people out there who would be more than happy to dob you in to the authorities. In such an open forum, best to comply. Especially if there are some wonderful alternatives. Do people in Texas install extractor fans and heating bulbs?

  40. So, here is my question; how often are you planning on turning the chandelier on? Do you plan on actually using it as a light source, or is it more of a decorative piece? If you don’t see yourself turning the thing on, hang it over the tub, but don’t connect it to the electricity.

    1. I was talking to Matt about this earlier today. For me, chandeliers are as much artwork/sculpture as they are functional lighting. I don’t really need lighting over the tub. So maybe having more of a sculptural/artistic piece hanging over the tub instead of a chandelier might be a better option for me.

  41. If ANYTHING ever went wrong in that room having an electrical code violation would null and void the insurance policy you have. I’d love to see the baubles in the center of the room if it fits or the olive leaf fixture. You aren’t at peace about violating the code for good reason! If you violate your conscience in this you won’t enjoy the beautiful light no matter how many people tell you it’s ok.

  42. Can you convert the bubble fixture to LED (like you did with the lamp)? If you have other fixtures to provide light for the room, then this could be a statement piece and, with LEDs controlled by a remote, would still look good and provide some mood lighting when wanted. Just a thought. I love the “bubbles” above the bath too much to give up on it, but agree that as a blogger, you should follow code (and maybe help others find a way to do so, too). Good luck. I look forward to seeing what you choose.

  43. I wouldn’t do it, in case of any injury and insurance complications. The what-ifs would take the joy out of a chandelier over the tub for me. Go for the olive leaf in the center of the room, it’s gorgeous.

  44. I’ve been thinking about this most of the day. And Kristi, you are the most detailed person I “know”, you don’t do anything half way, you always always do it right. And if it is not right you redo it. In this case right is following code. You set forth a standard with your blog that is so high in quality and design. Your readers follow your lead, if you don’t follow code, readers won’t either and they won’t limit it to how high to they need to hang a chandelier over a tub. Code is there for a reason. If you do decide to install the chandelier, I’m willing to bet it will not bring you the joy you think because you compromised your standards and that eventually you will redo it to follow code. Personally I love the ceiling mount brushed gold bubble chandelier and think it will look beautiful over your tub.

    1. Well said. Kristi sets a high bar for design and quality as well as ethics. M vote is to conform to code and follow the standard for ethical building!

  45. Kristi…we have a chandelier over our bathtub, and I never even knew this was an issue. We purchased a foreclosure, and I think there was just a wire hanging from the ceiling when we got here – most of the house was striped. I guess for sure we will be removing that soon as we are downsizing next. I would go safe and to code if I were you…I know you can find a solution you will be happy with. I love some of the ideas here about a light that works, surrounded by something you make with glass globes, and maybe LED lights with a remote. The feeling will still be lovely, and look lovely, and as usual, something you totally design yourself, but still be safe and in code. This is just another challenge for you to design better and smarter than ALL those builders…(I see those chandeliers over the tub ALL the time here in ads) and be correct for safety and code. Watch out…you may have to make one for me and so many others it seems!

  46. Here in Canada, new construction must be inspected before an occupancy permit is issued. There was a chandelier above the tub in my newly built house and it would have been there during the inspection. There is also a light right above the enclosed shower, but I didn’t like it and just covered up the electrical box with a plate.

  47. When I built our home the plans called for a light over the tub but the designer told us she thought it was unsafe and told us bluntly she would not approve it so we went with a mini chandelier in the middle of the room
    When I’m in the tub I wish I had more light for reading so this dilemma has always haunted me. Glad to see someone else in the same dilemma because I too saw so many others with it done. Good luck with your decision and thanks for the post. Now I understand why the designer told me no.

  48. My husband is an electrician and has always said no chandelier should be over the tub because it’s potentially unsafe. I read in the tub several nights a week and we have a high hat .

  49. My vote is for the olive leaf one but you do you. It’s your house! As if everything all the time is up to code. I seriously doubt that.

  50. I am also, ahem, vertically challenged, though a couple inches taller than you are. I think it would be very difficult and precarious to change a lightbulb in one of those lights hanging over the tub. My reach just isn’t far enough. Cleaning it would also be really hard.

    Reading through all the comments brought back an incident that happened to me 30 years ago, albeit when living in a country with poorer building standards and upkeep than in the United States. I was about to step into the tub and flicked the switch for the uncovered bulb that hung over it. It exploded and shards of glass went everywhere. There was a leak from the ceiling above that made its way to the light fixture. Fortunately I wasn’t injured but glass surrounded me. Granted, that could have happened with any light fixture in the apartment, but being naked, barefoot, and probably with my face uplifted would make a bathtub or shower mishap much worse.

  51. Well, my thoughts were: 1) “As if you ever ran out of ideas! I’m sure you can find something that you love AND is regulation compliant” and 2) “Since you are having recessed lighting as your main light source, just hang something decorative, maybe even the chandelier itself, un-wired” (I’ve been meaning to do something similar with my very tiny entrance). Maybe you can even build something yourself!

    Btw I have always wondered about the lighting in all those photos, in EU that would be a VERY big NO!

  52. Remember a lot of rules are made to fit the most wide of circumstances AND the most thoughtless of people. Your bathroom use does not pose a huge risk imo. You’re not able to reach, in any way. You’re not a small child perhaps prone to enthusiastic splashing. Even if you were to slip and fall into a tub full of water I don’t think it poses a significant risk.

    You’re a sensible, informed, well thought out woman. Evaluate the risks and make a decision that is right for you and your family. Honestly, lighting and a kitchen sink sprayer poses more risk! We’ve all shot water somewhere unexpectedly with those things!

  53. Go for the chandelier! For all those arguing you must follow code, in many cases a building inspector still needs to sign on the work (at least on larger projects). You wouldn’t find so many pics of chandelier’s over bathtubs if the town/city/building inspector felt that this was a make or break ordinance in the code.

  54. Once I know it’s not allowed I can’t bring myself to do it! Would you like having recessed lights and hanging a bubble “chandelier” that is not lit or electrified over the tub? It might give the look without the danger. There are lots of DIY tutorials out there, but this one from Martha is what was in my mind’s eye:

  55. Raising the ceiling would be a good option, then you could maybe do a coffered ceiling. with all the illegal chandeliering going on, it’s weird no one has lobbied to get the codes changed. unfortunately, too much red tape and expense.
    and the tag on mattresses…I think it says not to be removed except by consumer. so if you’ve bought the mattress, rip that puppy off.

  56. In one of your posts I thought you said you lost the info on the bubble chandelier. This popped up in my e-mail.
    Bubble chandelier for $324

  57. I remember watching a Candace Olsen episode and her electrician wouldnt hang the large chandy she wanted over the client’s tub. It surprised her (& me), and all these years later I always think about that when I see a chandy over a tub.
    If it was me, I wouldn’t do it, bc it would always agitate me that I knew it was against code. And that wouldn’t make for a very relaxing bath.

  58. Oh goodness gracious. What a ridiculous building code. So you can have your chandelier above the bathtub if the ceiling is 14 feet high, but you can’t if it’s 8 or 10 feet high? Why? Is there less of a chance of it detaching itself from the ceiling if it’s higher up, and even if it did detach, the wiring wouldn’t be long enough to reach the tub water! You know, I’ve heard the gubbament tell us to do a ton of ridiculous, non-sensical, purposeless things over the past 2 years, nearly ruining this country and all the processes in it — thankfully, I’ve always used my own common sense and my own research when making decisions or this bout of nonsense occurring in the world right now would have seriously harmed my physical and emotional health. You know what is safe for you.

    There is good reasoning behind everyone having a chandelier above their tub. Please hang your beautiful chandelier without a second thought.

  59. As a licensed electrician often a homeowner will swap out the light after inspection. I would GFCI protect said light tell the homeowner to enjoy there beautiful well installed light over his bathtub. When your ready to move put back that boring recessed light that will pass inspection.

  60. I work for a building inspector and my inspector would make you take it down.
    While you say it’s ignored, I want to present something else, that probably happened, because I know for a fact that it happened at a home in one of my jurisdictions – the chandelier was cited and removed. The building was completed and all final inspections took place. Then the builder put the chandelier up after the fact.

    The codes are there for a reason – SAFETY. Is it worth risking yours or someone you love’s life to have a pretty? Just wanted you to step back and think about this – the things we hear about in my office on a regular basis, because someone decided they are above code, are absolutely insane.

  61. Thank you so much, Kristi, for your insight on this topic. It has been beneficial in my research for a spa-like main bathroom that I am designing for a client. I am glad I found your blog!

  62. No, you’ve got something twisted. Otherwise, according to your logic, there would be no such thing as a shower light in a glass covered can. You change that bulb while standing in the shower, right? Shower can even be on!

    1. It’s not “logic”. It’s building code. And I can assure you, I don’t “got something twisted.” Those lights in showers are rated for use in wet areas. But if you’re changing a light bulb while standing in water, you’re incredibly stupid.