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Bathroom Lighting Design Tips

August 12, 2015
Bathroom Lighting Design Tips

Given the frequency of which we use our bathrooms, having the correct interior lighting to perform daily tasks efficiently is vital to a pleasurable bathroom experience. Effective bathroom lighting will provide enough light to carry out activities such as applying makeup, brushing teeth, shaving as well as other duties such as illuminating the entire space.

The most popular choice of colour temperature for a bathroom is either cool while (bright white) or daylight. This temperature gives the most accurate visibility of skin tone and colouring and good balanced bathroom lighting design should be able to achieve this.

rsz black white bathroom lighting design

When looking for bathroom lighting ideas, the following bathroom design aspects need to be considered:


LEDs and Incandescent light bulbs are the most commonly used globes in lighting design. Each has its own pros and cons and need to be considered an important part of achieving the overall lighting design.


Durability and low and energy use are not affected by humidity and emit very low amounts of heat and are cost efficient. LEDs are best used for task lighting and accent lighting.


Typical light bulb most commonly used in households today, unlike LEDs incandescent bulbs emit warm soft lighting and use more electricity than other bulbs. Incandescent bulbs are most often used for ambient lighting.

marble bathroom recessed lights

Types of Lighting

Task Lighting

Task lighting refers to increased luminescence to a space for lighting a specific task. There are many varieties of task lights in the bathroom however, task lights are most commonly found above or next to a vanity. Contrast is extremely important with task lighting, an incorrectly placed task light may cause increased contrast which will result in excess shadows and lack of luminescence.

Sconces and Wall Lights

  • Sconces and wall lights are usually positioned at eye level and are used to maximise the lighting for highlighting a person’s face. These lights usually consist of multiple bulbs or fixtures which highlight facial features and tend not to cast shadows. Professional makeup artist use many bulbs to accurately see the colours, tones and shades of skin and makeup.

  • Makeup mirrors are perfect for those who apply makeup in the bathroom as getting the lighting correct is extremely important. Lighting needs to be bright and even, so that you are able to apply colour and blending correctly. Makeup mirrors are perfect for providing the correct close up luminescence to achieve even makeup application.

rsz bathroom vanity lighting stunning pendant lights  1

Ambient Lighting

Ambient lighting refers to light that provides general illumination over an entire area or space. Ambient lights are a common feature in bathrooms and are usually referred to as ceiling lights. Ambient Lighting's purpose is to substitute natural light at night. Ambient light is enhanced by task lighting, so this needs to be taken into consideration when organising your lighting design. Common ambient lights are pendant lights, chandeliers, ceiling lights and track lights.

Ceiling lights are perfect for creating ambient lighting. Usually placed in the centre of the bathroom, casting overall lighting descending from above the head. Ceiling lights are a great choice for brightening a room but, often need to be enhanced by task lighting fixtures to correct shadows on the face. Chandeliers and pendant lights are a creative and decorative way to enhance the overall ambiance and style of a bathroom; these fixtures will give off light that opens up an entire room, just remember to combine with other lighting fixtures.

Our Tip: Chandeliers and pendant should be hung high enough that they are safely out of the way.

rsz modern bathroom design chandelier navy gold green

Accent Lighting

Accent lights are either recessed or standard spotlights that create focus points on artwork, decorative features, basins or tilework. Examples of accent lights are strip lighting, spotlights and adjustable downlights. A popular trend in bathroom design is the use of strip lighting or night lights. These are recessed accent lights that are designed to emit low level lighting which continually stay lit during the night, to illuminate the path towards, and in, the bathroom. They can also be placed behind or under vanity units and mirrors to make a statement focal piece.

Natural Lighting

A carefully placed window or skylight will add volumes of daylight to you bathroom. Even the smallest window can brighten and open up your room, as well as provide added ventilation. Everyone will agree that having access to natural light in bathrooms is ideal. Windows and skylights provide ambient bright illumination throughout the day and will also help to reduce power usage.

rsz clean white bathroom leds vanity lights

Our Tip: Mirrors are highly effective at creating excess bathroom lighting. Placed correctly, a mirror will reflect near or opposite a window or light fixture and as such, will enhance and distribute light evenly throughout a bathroom.

You can always add extra lighting in your bathroom by including LED shower heads, reflective tiles or an extra floor lamp, provided the lamps are treated to withstand humidity.

We hope these tips have been useful for you when it comes to designing your bathroom lighting plan. And remember, whenever your planning to install lights always seek the advice and installation assistance of a qualified electrician. Good luck!

For more information on bathroom lighting design read our article on The 6 Biggest Bathroom Mistakes.

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