Making a statement, creating a sanctuary, designing a beautiful space. Bathroom lighting is all about function and form.
Did you know the average person spends over 2 years in the bathroom over the course of their life? That’s a lot of time, so it should be a pleasant space to be in! There’s a whole world of bathroom style to explore, from modern simplicity to personal spas to quirky spaces - this article is a guide to bathroom lighting ideas that brighten up your space.
Image 1: A beautiful bathroom refit that uses light to amplify the space - turning a small bathroom into a spacious one! Image source: the_house_the_plummers_built https://www.instagram.com/the_house_the_plummers_built/
The essential lights every bathroom needs
When you picture your perfect bathroom, what does it look like? Where are the bold spaces you want to draw attention to? Are there corners where you want to bring in light and life? How do you picture the space in front of you?
The best lights for the bathroom vary depending on your design needs. While every bathroom needs to be a well lit space, there are certain requirements that must be met. For instance, all lights in the bathroom should be IP rated. A 2021 development is the emphasis on washing hands following Covid-19 - the sink should be well lit so you can see exactly how clean your hands are!
Image 2: The fashionable Wofi Geza Double LED Ceiling Light is an adjustable spotlight, perfect for soft-lighting those morning mirror selfies!
Do I need a special light for the bathroom?
Bathrooms require a special light that is usually not necessary for most other rooms in the house. When looking for inspiration for lighting your bathroom, it is important to consider the safety rating of the lights you want to use.
The IP rating of a light demonstrates how waterproof the product is. The rating is made up of two numbers and gives a value of how protected the light is from entry of solids and liquids.
Within the bathroom there are different zones which require different levels of IP rated lights. Below is a table to help you choose the right IP rating for different areas of the bathroom;
Area of bathroom
Minimum required IP rating
Inside the bath or shower area
Above the bath or shower, up to 2.25m away from the floor
Minimum of IP45, but IP65 recommended
Up to 0.6m away from the bath or shower, up to 2.25m from the floor, sink area
Areas where no water jet is likely to be used
No required IP rating, but IP20+ recommended
When choosing lighting ideas for your bathroom, always check the IP number. This will help ensure your bathroom is not only a stylish space but a safe one too.
Image 3: The Wofi SPA TOM Illuminated Makeup Mirror is safety rated for bathroom use, providing a home salon feel!
Image 4: Safety rated spotlights like the Wofi SPA SPACE Chrome Quad Ceiling Light create a luxurious and clean atmosphere within the bathroom.
What type of lighting is best for bathrooms?
The best lights for your bathroom account for safety and style. There are a wide variety of lights available for the bathroom in many different styles.
Consider the style and colour scheme of your bathroom when choosing lights, as well as the size and shape of the space. The following list is an overview of the common styles of light available on the market;
As previously mentioned, it’s important to have safety rated lights in the bathroom due to the presence of water. Many light styles also come with IP rating for bathroom application, for example the lights found here;
Image 5: The mirror and washbasin area should make use of bright task lighting. The Wofi SPA Jill Chrome LED Wall Light is perfect for shaving, styling, and selfies!
Bathroom lighting with style and substance
Your dream bathroom is unique to you! Everyone wants something different from this space, so it’s important to consider your wants and needs when choosing bathroom lighting inspiration.
Image 6: This quirky bathroom ties together many elements with simple black outlines, from the shower panel to the spotlights. Image source: rocinteriors https://www.instagram.com/rocinteriors/
Image 7: This modern, minimalist design uses a simple yet effective pendant light to boost light levels above the sink and mirror. Image source: villastyling https://www.instagram.com/villastyling/
Image 8: The industrial fittings give a designer edge to this otherwise classically beautiful sink and mirror set-up. Image source: trio_homes https://www.instagram.com/trio_homes
How much light do you need in a bathroom?
Ideas for bathroom lighting should take into account what tasks are being performed in what area. For example, jumping into the shower doesn’t need as much light as shaving in the mirror. Maybe you like to relax and read in the bath so need task lighting that provides enough luminosity to see the pages, or maybe you like to kick back with some soothing music and low light, making a safety rated dimming light better.
An increasingly popular way to pass the time in the bathroom is to use a phone, but did you know 7 million Americans drop their phone in the toilet each year?!
Image 9: A quirky example of task lighting in a rustic industrial style. Image source: ultionandsweet https://www.instagram.com/ultionandsweet/
Consider the levels of natural light that make it into the room. Where is the window? Where is the bathtub/shower? Where is the sink and mirror? All of these factors play into creating a well lit environment that makes use of natural and artificial lighting.
Below is a table demonstrating the best lights for the bathroom areas;
Area of bathroom
Type of lighting
Sink and mirror
Bright task lighting, such as LEDs, provide illumination for tasks like shaving. Make a feature of the light by centrally placing a statement light above the mirror to draw attention and brighten the room. Safety rated pendant lights are also an effective solution.
Bathtub and shower
Simple yet effective ceiling lighting provides ambience for a relaxing and enjoyable shower/bath. LEDs can be adjustable to set the mood for a cold morning shower or relaxing evening bath.
Creating light in the open spaces of the bathroom can be a challenge but a statement light to complement the sink and mirror area creates a designer feel. Complement with subtle wall or ceiling lights to bring life to dark corners or include a safety rated table or floor lamp for an attention grabbing piece.
Lighting for different sized bathrooms
Every bathroom is individual. Some are big and spacious, some are small and cosy. Regardless of the size or layout of your bathroom, lighting plays an important role in completing the atmosphere of the space.
Big bathrooms can make use of lighting to create zones within the room. The bath and shower area can be zoned differently to the sink and mirror, creating a functional space that doesn’t feel empty. Large statement lights create a focal point for the room and help tie together the different zones.
Image 10: This large classically styled bathroom makes use of a big statement light to add character to the space. Image source: bathrooms_of_insta https://www.instagram.com/bathrooms_of_insta/
Big enough to make use of bathroom zones but still a little cosy, medium sized bathrooms can use the best of both worlds. Statement lights may need to be smaller, but that’s not to say they need to compromise on style.
Using a variety of light styles such as wall, ceiling, and LED lights, medium sized bathrooms can be stylish spaces perfect for every day use.
Image 11: This medium sized bathroom uses industrial fittings with delicate touches to create a functional feel, finished off with mix and match lights. Image source: homeasy.design https://www.instagram.com/homeasy.design/
In small bathrooms, be sure not to waste an inch of space! Keep corners well lit and include mirrors where possible to amplify the size of the room. Combined bath/showers are a great space saver and should be lit as such.
Avoid large statement lights and instead opt for subtle ceiling lights, or go for it with one big light for the space and smaller task lighting.
Image 12: This small space doesn’t compromise on style with a modern feel and maximal natural light. A simple colour scheme and bold light is a fashionable choice in limited space. Image source: real_homes https://www.instagram.com/real_homes/
Lighting to make your bathroom look bigger
Regardless of the size of your bathroom, it’s always great to feel like there’s additional space. Below are a few tips to create the illusion of more room;
- Mirrors - commonly used throughout the house to create the feeling of more space, the bathroom is no different. Commonly placed above the sink, a large mirror can make a small space feel twice as big. A simple style of mirror complemented with an attention grabbing light creates a focal point in the room and takes attention away from the limited space.
- Brightly lit corners - avoid dark areas in smaller spaces by making use of every inch. LEDs set into the ceiling create a welcoming ambient glow and provide space for fun details within the room like plants and decor.
- Keep the colour scheme light - light colours complemented with warm lights create a welcoming and clean feeling bathroom environment whatever the size. Whites and greys are the popular choice, but don’t be afraid to experiment with pastels and patterns. Use complementary warm wall lights to draw the eye to your stylish design choices!
This small bathroom goes bold and beautiful, embracing colour. It might be a small space but it’s got bags of character! Image source: small.flat.ideas https://www.instagram.com/small.flat.ideas/
Bathroom lighting is a vital part of your updated bathroom design. Big or small, modern or traditional, every bathroom benefits from well designed and good quality lighting. Don’t forget to check safety ratings before installation, and let your imagination run wild!