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Best Bathroom Lighting Solutions

Updated: Nov 20, 2022

Bathrooms are now required to be our sanctuary of indulgence and practicality.

Nowadays, the prerequisite of home-owners is to have that nurturing spa experience from the bathroom. This can be achieved with state of the art fixtures and fittings, a mix of soft and hard finishes, and all on a backdrop of functional mood lighting.

Historically, lighting in the bathroom was more utilitarian and decorative than functional. Today's bathroom should be designed with a considered lighting and electrical plan, complying with new electrical and lighting regulations.

That spa experience involves a spend on beautiful finishes and sanitary ware. And therefore these need to be shown in the best possible light.

Considered lighting for the bathroom has been undervalued despite the initial desire to have the dream bathroom. Most home renovators are not aware of the impact of their choices. Often the budget cuts or deadlines have compromised the choices made. And sadly, the opportunity to rectify the lighting once the fixtures and finishes are in place is not only messy and time consuming but also very costly.

Therefore, the lighting solution should be addressed with as much care and forethought as other rooms - the living room, kitchen and bedrooms. A harmonious transition between rooms is not only by the way it is decorated but also by way of mood and accent lighting.

Think of mood, functionality and personality together with the cleanliness and maintenance free finishes. Planned lighting that incorporates different types of lighting will enable you to emulate the spa experience..

Let’s evaluate your bathroom needs

You will need to consider what you want:

The Practical of the bathroom:

  • it’s purpose and functionality

  • It's cleanliness and hygiene

  • The suitability of the fixtures, fittings and finishes to enable a maintenance free environment

  • Safety and protection ie choosing the right product for its use

  • The heating and air circulation incorporated into a bathroom

The Aesthetics of the bathroom:

  • Choices of finishes: wood, stone or ceramic tiles

  • Choices of Fixtures and fittings inclusive of WC, bidet, shower, bath, basin and vanity to add to the luxurious use of the bathroom space

  • Electrical additions of underfloor heating, radiators and silent extraction fans

The fixtures, fittings and finishes are all measurable as they are visually accessible in a bathroom showroom setting as well as the wood or tile showrooms.

A 3D or 2D layout or drawing will also assist in viewing the proposed layout of sanitary ware.

The Design

A layered approach to lighting a room is always the most interesting by varying heights of light sources, different fittings and types of lighting. So try not to opt for a bank of downlight and job done when you have the opportunity to create interest and highlights in your bathroom.

The objective of a lighting solution for the bathroom is to express the cleanliness, enhance visibility and create a nurturing ambience.

Notwithstanding, the most important points to consider when designing a lighting scheme for your bathroom is to:

  1. Plan your bathroom lighting layout before applying finishes, fixtures and fittings

  2. Plan the zones of use within your bathroom to ascertain the level of water protection required

  3. Choose light fittings that comply with bathroom lighting regulations

  4. Design to create visibility

  5. Design to create ambience


Like a kitchen can be broken up into zones of cooking so too a bathroom needs to divided into zones to ascertain the lighting usage and therefore the IP rating required in that zone/area.

For example, the shower area will require a higher IP rating to protect the fitting from moisture compared to the centre of the bathroom where there is less moisture buildup.

It is therefore important to work with a qualified electrician/lighting consultant in order to purchase the light fitting that complies with its use.

Utilising the cast of light and shadows

It is always a happy exercise to observe the cast of light and shadows that natural light brings to a room.

If you are fortunate enough to have natural light flowing into your bathroom take time to view the play of light in the space.

You may wish to swap around the elements in your design to take full advantage of the light.

Then add this into the equation before you choose where and what types of lights you will specify.

Types of Lighting

Just like colour can visually manipulate the size, temperature and atmosphere of a room so too LIGHTING can be designed to affect the mood and accent elements.

The lighting market has to a multitude of fixtures and systems to choose from to suit the function and reflect the atmosphere that will create your desired space.

Generally, space isn't a premium in bathrooms so the lighting layout will need to fulfil the function, ambience and comfort of the space.

To do this in a considered way it is better to combine types of lighting:

  1. General Ambience Lighting

  2. Task Lighting

  3. Accent Lighting

General Ambience lighting

This sets the tone of the room - it provides an overall ambience in a uniform level of lighting for the room. This can be achieved by using ceiling fittings such as down lights, track lighting, and pendants.

Todays bathroom may incorporate a combination of ceiling lights for functionality, a decorative pendant, uplighters and wall lights for diversity.

Task lighting

Lighting the specific object or area from a lighting fixture will require task lighting.

For example, strip lighting under cabinets, down lighting over benches, spotlights angled at pieces of sculpture/art and reading lamps.

In a bathroom it will be placed around the basin, on shelving and inside cabinetry. It is also utilised within the shower space, around the WC and Bidet.

And, placement of the light fitting is important.

For example, mirror lighting is always more flattering when placed on either side of the mirror, surrounding it or behind it so as not to create shadows on the face.

Accent lighting

The importance of the accent light fitting is to direct the focus on the element rather than the light source. Choose the element you wish to be the focal point and use accent lighting to feature this eg a wall feature or mirror.

The spillage of light from accent lighting is a form of indirect lighting as shown in this image - the lights below the cabinetry reflect onto the mosaic wall as a feature of the room and function also as night time lighting.

This bathroom has been layered with the 3 levels of lighting - General, Task, and Accent Lighting.

As the fitting is hidden so this also falls into the category of concealed lighting.

In this instance, a continuous line of light from strip lighting has been installed.

Concealed lighting is often used to highlight architectural elements or reflect light from coving to wash the light either upward to the ceiling or downward onto the wall.

The above image also shows how Indirect lighting reflects into the corners of a room, subtly defining the perimeters of the space.

Lighting the perimeter of a space is also psychologically re-assuring.

A combination of all 3 types of lighting, layering at different heights and types of fittings will create a diversity of light intensity to enhance the atmosphere of the room.

Sockets & Switches

The regulations for placement of sockets and switches do vary in each country so it is important that you update yourself on the regulations of the country you reside in.

As an example, In the UK, plate switches can be used on the inside of the bathroom, but these must be suitable for use in the bathroom, given the high levels of humidity and condensation. The plates must be at least 0.6m away from the bath or shower.

A pull cord can be used instead, in any location in the bathroom.

Also, bathroom sockets are not allowed because of risk of electric shock in the wet surroundings. However specially designed shaver outlets are allowed.

When you are designing the space and lighting plan consider also where to place the shaver or electric toothbrush socket. Try concealing it in or under a cabinet.

Lighting for the Planet and your Budget

LED lights are also a good option for bathroom and in particular shower lighting because they are focused, energy-efficient (lasting up to 25,000 hrs) and less prone to overheating.

LED lighting is now the norm and apart from being a sensible option for the benefit of the planet, we now see the value and more as our utility bills rise at an unprecedented rate. LED lamps can emit the same brightness as the traditional incandescent lamp with the advantage of using a fraction of the power.

Another advantage is that LED light bulbs don’t use a filament to produce their light. Therefore, without the filament they cannot burn out, making them cost-effective and energy-efficient.

The earliest LED replacement lamps established a cool and bluish-white colour. Unlike the previous cool bluish-white colour of light soure, today, LEDs provide warm tones with enhanced red and white. This is an advantage from a designer's point of view - the previous bluish light was too harsh for most residential interior applications.

Smart Lighting for Bathrooms

I have spoken previously about replacing your old incandescent bulbs for LED lamps.

If you love technology then you may wish to research the area of Smart Technology which includes Smart Bulbs.

See also:

These connect via WIFI and then to a lighting control system. They can also be combined with further applications to automate sound systems, blinds etc. All can be controlled from an app, your voice or smart controls.

However, it is important to realise that these do require a hub which also requires space and maintenance. I would suggest you seek a lighting engineer’s advice to understand the Smart Home and Lighting technology so you can ascertain what you require in your home.

I have designed a centralised system into a scheme for a technology savvy family which suited them perfectly but other clients will shy away from this high end technology and opt for a simpler lighting system.

Find out more:


  • DO plan a considered lighting and electrical layout

  • DO install the correctly rated light fitting for the purpose

  • DO plan a layered lighting solution to create interest with General/Ambience, Task Lighting and Accent Lighting

  • DO express your character and personality with your lighting scheme

  • DO provide the nurture, theatrics and practicality that you desire and deserve.

  • DON'T let the practicality of your bathroom lighting design lead you to playing too safe


Ways I can help you:

Or contact me below:

Interior Statements Ltd

UK: +44 (0)7805 054 354


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