Bathroom lighting ideas
Practical pointers and style tips for a well-lit bathroom
When considering bathroom lighting ideas, there is a technical safety aspect that cannot be ignored. It is of paramount importance that electricity and water do not mix, so you will need to choose a design with an appropriate Ingress Protection rating (IP).
The rating you need will depend on where the fitting will be in relation to the sources of water. Use the guide at the end of this article to check the most appropriate IP-rated fitting for various locations in the room. If in any doubt, refer to your electrician for advice.
Despite this, function doesn’t need to rule the design – ambient, accent and integrated lighting are very much part of modern wet room design, as these bathroom lighting ideas show.
A layered effect
An effective lighting scheme provides for tasks such as putting on make-up and for setting the scene for relaxation. Ambient lighting provides background illumination, and accent fittings highlight particular features of the room.
By incorporating a number of different fittings that all work well together, you’ll create a versatile scheme that adapts as and when you want it to. Include separate circuits and controls for task, accent and ambient lights so you can turn them on and off individually. Installing dimmer switches also allows for control of the light levels.
Options for functional fittings include wall lamps on either side of a mirror or mirror cabinet. Or a strip light above. This provides crisp, shadow-free illumination. Place wall lamps at eye level to ensure a uniform light across the face.
Adjustable fittings offer flexibility for a variety of grooming routines. Extendable, jointed wall lamps may be sufficient. But a supplementary wall-mounted magnifying mirror with integrated LEDs adds extra versatility. Once you’ve identified the best bathroom lighting ideas for your space, you’ll want the fittings to be durable. ‘LEDs last up to 15 years, so shouldn’t require changing very often,’ says Charlie Bowles, director at Original BTC.
Ambient lights add atmosphere by casting a glow across walls, floors, countertops and basins. They create a diffused light less suited to completing tasks, but perfect for when you’re relaxing in the bath.
Strategically placed fittings are the secret to a striking scheme. In the ceiling or floor, continuous linear LEDs and architectural wall-washers illuminate vertical surfaces for decorative background lighting.
Accent bathroom lighting ideas aim to draw attention to architectural features, furniture or fixtures with accent lights. Fit discreet LED strips under wall-mounted cabinets or a vanity unit to create the impression that the fixtures are floating. Back-lit mirrors give a similarly luxurious effect.
Linear LEDs and plinth lights draw the eye into the room, denote level changes or define specific areas. So, place flexible strips in recessed profiles with a frosted cover to help diffuse any spotting or glare. LEDs under the rim or base of a bath are really effective. Look for product ranges including matching basins, along with colour-changing and remote-control options.
Many bathroom furniture ranges include the option of integrated fittings. For a retrofit solution, look for wired or rechargeable battery-operated options.
Mirrors with integrated LEDs and touch controls are sleek and practical, giving an even light that eliminates shadows. Look for a design with an adjustable colour temperature of up to 6,000K. This is akin to daylight and ideal for applying make-up or shaving.
A motion-activated sensor within mirrors and sanitaryware turns the light on as you approach to provide a convenient nightlight for nocturnal visits. ‘It’s a practical solution when children can’t reach the switch or tend to the lights on,’ says Ana Rezende, senior designer at Ripples.