In search of bathroom lighting ideas? Get your bathroom lights right is key to creating a space that's most importantly practical but also looks great too.
You should first consider how you use, or intend to use your bathroom. Think of the times of day when you (or others) will be there, and whether you have high levels of natural light to play with. Then consider the ambience you want to create, and when. Are you looking for a lively and energising space, or for a more relaxing and therapeutic bathroom? The choice is yours. And with the many bathroom lighting options around, including smart lighting and the likes, you will be able to bring your dream bathroom space to life.
Any electrical fittings will need the correct IP rating and you’ll want to illuminate key fixtures like your basin, inside of shower and around the bath, plus any alcoves and vanity areas to get the best use out of your space. We’ve considered all you need to know and combined the practical side of lighting with the most sought-after bathroom looks below.
For more bathroom ideas check out our feature for more inspiration.
1. Look to bathroom mirror lighting
Want to actually be able to see your face in the bathroom mirror when you're washing it/putting on makeup? Grouping bathroom lights over – and to the side of – a mirror will ensure that they're working where they're most needed. Bouncing the light off the mirrored glass will help a narrow or small bathroom feel bigger, too. Win win.
This cosy bathroom features the Ostana wall lamp from Ikea.
2. Consider layering light
No matter the size of your bathroom, multiple light sources will always enhance the design. A combination of downlights, task lighting, accent spotlights and recessed lighting will create a scheme to suit all needs, providing practical lighting for day-to-day tasks, low-level ambient light and illumination at night.
Look to have bathroom lighting over a mirror (task lighting), a main bathroom light to illuminate the whole room (downlight/ambient lighting), and lighting that shows off a feature in the room (accent lighting) for a balanced space.
Aim to include two circuits on dimmers and one circuit to control a presence detector for automatic night lights, and consider linking your extractor fan to one of the circuits, too.
Consider the size of your space of course as this may prove too much for a small bathroom, but in a larger bathroom like the one below, the layered lighting works perfectly. Your eye is drawn to the exposed brick that's highlighted by accent lighting, while a mirror light and spotlights create a bright and smart look that is equally as functional.
This bathroom look is from The Pure Bathroom Collection.
Read more on creating a feature with exposed brick walls.
3. Use bathroom wall lights to create a focal point
Using bathroom wall lights strategically to highlight a particular zone in the bathroom is a neat design trick that will help your room feel well-designed. Here, it's the vanity unit that's being drawn attention too with bathroom wall lights that make for a practical lighting solution too.
Want a bang on trend, minimalist bathroom? A monochromatic scheme is your best bet, and graphic box wall lights will look especially good with a matching black bathtub.
See more black bathroom ideas in our gallery.
4. Choose Ikea bathroom lights for a classic look that's affordable, too
Don't fancy spending a load of money on bathroom wall lights, but want something with a bit of oomph to it? Ikea to the rescue: the Lillholmen wall lamp, featured below, has a subtle vintage look with a brass finish that won't be out of place in the most elegant of bathrooms. And it's only £12. Also comes in silver.
5. Bathroom pendant lighting will give the room a stylish finish
For a bathroom lighting idea that's classic and timeless, choose glass pendant lights. They're an excellent alternative to built-in wall lights for a more contemporary twist on the traditional bathroom decor. Choose frosted designs for a more diffused light. Check the building reg rules on the position of these with your electrician before you buy.
6. Use bathroom pendant lighting for a darker room
Dark bathrooms can look as warm and inviting as light ones, and lighting plays a major part in making sure that your dark bathroom looks relaxing and luxurious, not dingy. Choose warm lights suspended in a cluster for a glamorous effect.
7. Pick bathroom pendant lighting for a pared back look
Love a minimalist, unfussy bathroom design that looks timeless and elegant? You need a really nice pendant light – and no other lighting will be necessary. Choose frosted glass or ceramic for a soft and understated look, or a brass pendant for a bolder, more graphic look. Again, talk to an electrician before you buy.
The Hex Pendant in weathered brass is from Davey Lighting.
This traditional bathroom (below) has been accented with an Upton Pendant Light by Fritz Fryer Lighting.
See more traditional bathroom ideas in our gallery.
8. Modern bathroom lighting ideas? Choose outdoor style lights
Love the indoor-outdoor space blending trend? It's not just about making the outdoors look like indoors; it can work the other way around too. If you want to bring a bit of industrial, outdoorsy chic into your bathroom, try fitting wall lights designed for the exterior.
The Southbank Outdoor Wall Light are from Garden Trading.
9. Bathroom lighting ideas for small bathrooms should make an impact
If you're working will a small bathroom, your task is to add dimension and mimic the illusion of space. A glass pendant is a nice way to add subtle drama and the diffused light effect will visually enhance the space, drawing attention to the interesting shapes rather than to the size of the room.
See more small bathroom ideas in our gallery.
10. Juxtapose black walls with a brilliant wall light
Think of black or dark bathroom walls as the perfect canvas for brilliant light effects. The brighter and more interesting the wall light you use, the better.
In this dark and dramatic bathroom, the tubular light really comes into its own, making the space around the sink extra bright. The bathroom is by Maison Valentina. Find more black bathroom ideas in our gallery.
11. Choose bold bathroom pendant lights
When we say bold, we mean chandelier. And if you're blessed with a large bathroom, the world is your oyster when it comes to lighting, so to really make the most of the big space, get a statement chandelier. It will work, and traditional bathrooms do especially well with a vintage-style glass chandelier like the one below.
For a similar chandelier, try Laura Ashley.
12. Use glass wall lights for a retro chic look
Want to create a vintage-inspired bathroom without actually using vintage fixtures and fittings? Subtly rounded glass lights with metal fixtures will give you the right look. Pick traditional incandescent lightbulbs to complete the vintage effect.
In this vintage-inspired bathroom, the Well Glass Wall Lights are by Davey Lighting.
13. Enjoy a spa-like atmosphere with LED candle lights
Love candles, hate the waxy mess they can leave behind? If you want to not be scrubbing your bath after every spa at home session, invest in some LED candle lookalikes. Same soft light, no wax.
The TruGlow Realistic Flame Battery LED Candles are from Lights4fun.
14. Add New England chic with a brass pendant
Love the simplicity of New England decorating style? To add that East Coast charm to a traditional bathroom, go for a large, brass pendant.
We really like the way that the Quad Pendant Light by Davey Lighting combines vintage-industrial and nautical influences, but still looks delicate enough to complement a neutrally decorated bathroom.
15. Match bathroom lighting fixtures to existing fittings
To pull together your bathroom decor, think about how the different materials will interact. Marble looks great when contrasted with a brass or gold finish, while tile will look great with a cool-toned metal or chrome. For a really defined, smart look, match the lighting fixtures to the finish of all the other fittings.
This luxurious bathroom features the The Double Derwent Light With Fluted Shade by Drummonds. The finish can be customised. From £654.
16. Bathroom ceiling lighting ideas with a difference? Multiple lightbulbs
Want to add a bit of playfulness to a contemporary bathroom decor? Use multiple single-bulb pendants, suspended at slightly different heights. Great for breaking up a neutral bathroom scheme. You could even look at coloured bulbs (many of which are smart) to really add character to your space.
17. Bathroom mirrors with lights create a spa look
Backlit bathroom mirrors are the ultimate streamlined bathroom lighting solution. No fixtures to fit, no pendants you might walk into. Plus, they're very useful for when you're applying makeup.
We have more colourful bathroom ideas in our gallery.
18. Go industrial with cage pendants
Cage lamp shades have an edgy, contemporary look that is a bit lighter than graphic brass pendants. Great for a modern look that hasn't quite gone industrial.
For a good selection of cage pendant lights, head to Wayfair.
19. Make like a movie star
Your bathroom might lack space, but it can more than make up with it in the glamour stakes. We love these LEDSJÖ wall lamps from Ikea – they provide PLENTY of light and give the room some proper attitude, too.