Five top tips for magical bathroom lighting

Bathrooms need to be flexible spaces.  This post offers five bathroom lighting tips to make your bathroom that bit more special.

Soft downlighting and accent lighting for an Arts & Crafts bathroom

Plan for flexibility, use enough circuits

You’ll want excellent lighting for the basin and mirror areas, and soft lighting for the bath.  You’ll want lighting for the shower and you might want to highlight particular features to accentuate them and add drama or interest.  Using different circuits gives you flexibility on what you light and when.  You don’t have to flood the bathroom with a uniform blanket of light, and in fact there are very good reasons why you shouldn’t.  So keep flexible.  Determine the different usage areas and plan your lighting around the differing needs of each zone. Lastly, make sure you’ve got at least one circuit in the bathroom that can be dimmed.  If you need to visit the bathroom in the middle of the night you’ll be glad you’ve got an easily accessible late night “scene” that’s not going to shock you awake.

Plan early, use the full range of fixing options

Bathrooms feature a lot of hard surfaces.  Plan early and you will be able to make the most of the fixing points available to you.  Floors, niches, under-bath locations can all be utilised as fixing points for striking accent lighting but they need to be considered as part of the fabric of the bathroom.  Designed in early, they can make for discreet lighting locations providing wonderful accents to complement the main ambient lighting.

Look for the opportunities for magic

Bathroom lighting with mirror lighting and lit niches

The bathroom maybe more than any other room offers the opportunity for some real “me time”. We’re not suggesting that getting the bathroom lighting right is going to make more of those precious opportunities come along, but carefully planned accented details can add an unexpected wow factor to the room for when they do.  

Look at architectural or functional features: niches,  cabinetry, window treatments.  One of our most viewed and commented photos on houzz is a photo of niches in a bathroom with mirrored backs, each lit with a small LED downlight.  It’s the attention to detail, finding something special in what might be otherwise mundane, that can make bathroom lighting magical.

Get the Mirror Lighting Right

Let’s pull some of these tips together and show they can work with mirror lighting.  Good mirror lighting, whether it’s for make-up or shaving, is important.   Ideally light should come from both the ceiling (eg: from downlights or high output wall lights reflecting light off the ceiling) and from wall lights mounted around the mirror at face level.  This will help avoid throwing unhelpful shadows.  A single down light above the mirror will almost certainly not offer shadow-free lighting.  Built-in lighting around the mirror is very popular but too much off the shelf integrated lighting is poor quality.  Mirror lighting should offer good colour rendering.  It’s possible to integrate really good quality lights into, around and behind mirrors to offer fabulous quality of light with a sleek integrated look.

MIrror lighting and ground recessed LED accent lights in a modern bathroom

Understand the IP regulations and zoning requirements

It goes without saying that water and electricity aren’t great companions.  That doesn’t mean that you need be restricted in your choice of lights for a bathroom.  The IP regulations lay out what rating of fittings you need for each bathroom location.  There are really high quality light sources for all zone applications so you shouldn’t feel constrained in buying a lower quality light simply because it is flagged as a “bathroom light”.  We offer a range of great light sources all the way up to IP67.  See some of our IP44+ rated lights here.  See more bathroom lighting tips on our bathroom lighting solutions page.

Related case studies

A luxurious contemporary bathroom lighting scheme
A wonderful Arts and Crafts bathroom in a North Yorkshire country house

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