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Great Bathroom Lighting Ideas

Updated on December 12, 2014
Burlington Edwardian Double Round Light With Pull Cord
Burlington Edwardian Double Round Light With Pull Cord

One thing that can let down a beautiful bathroom is poor lighting, so it’s incredibly important to plan it correctly so you’re highlighting the best parts of your bathroom and not making guests walk into a room where the lighting doesn't do your design any justice. Lighting is also important for the daily use of the bathroom, including safety. Inadequate lighting may raise the chances of you slipping or bumping into something, while trying to put on makeup in the bathroom mirror when the lighting is poor will be a very frustrating experience.

In this hub I’ve put together some general tips and some great ideas on how to install bathroom lighting.

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Safety

Before you tackle any of the steps below you need to be aware of the safety rules surrounding installation of anything electrical in a bathroom environment. If you have any doubt hire a professional to install your bathroom lighting, they can still follow whatever plan you desire as long as it’s realistically viable.

If you insist on doing it yourself then you absolutely need to make sure that all fittings are completely encased, otherwise water would be able to come into contact with electrical connections which could prove disastrous and even fatal. Double insulation is required, and the bulb plus any metal parts need to be covered. All this means that you need to buy lights that were originally designed for the bathroom, not lights made for other areas of the home that you think would look good. If in doubt check the instructions that came with the light, or contact the manufacturer. It also means that you can’t have a light switch in the bathroom; it has to be a pull cord.

Any professional electrician you hire should understand bathroom lighting guidelines and follow them to the book. If you suspect that installation of you lights has been carried out in a less than perfect fashion then DO NOT use any bathroom lights and contact someone who can fix the problem quickly (if it turns out they’ve done a lacklustre job then the relevant authorities should be contacted too, otherwise more lives will be potentially put at risk).

Dimmers

In my opinion dimmers are one of the best things ever invented when it comes to lighting in your home. They allow you to control the strength of the light and dimmer switches should be installed in every room of your home, or at least your bathroom. Have the lights on bright for when you're using the bathroom mirror, while dimming the lights can create a romantic mood for a nice relaxing dip in the bath (and maybe your significant other!).

Ok, so your window doesn't need to be this big!
Ok, so your window doesn't need to be this big! | Source

Natural Light

Before we start talking about electrical lights we must first consider the natural lighting of your bathroom. If your bathroom is buried in the interior of your home and doesn't have an exterior wall then obviously this doesn't apply to you as you can’t put a window in. For everyone else you should already have a window, but how much natural light does it let in?

Natural light will always be better than artificial light, particularly if you have any plants in your bathroom, so if you have the space to have a big window then go for it! My bathroom has an opaque window, and while this lets less light through it doesn’t cause a privacy issue. If you opt for a completely transparent window instead you’ll let more natural light in and won’t need to use artificial lighting as much, thereby saving money on electricity. Blinds will provide privacy in this case.

HIB Zenith Mirror, with illuminated lights down the sides.
HIB Zenith Mirror, with illuminated lights down the sides. | Source

Bathroom Mirrors with Lights

Putting lights around your mirrors is a great idea as this is the spot we tend to use the most in the bathroom. Place lights, such as sconces, vertically or horizontally to the mirror as to give an even light across the face, minimising shadows – perfect for putting your makeup on! There are also LED illuminated mirrors on the market that save you from having to buy lights separately.

Just think about placement before you install the lights, as the last thing you want is glare from the lights in your mirror, or lights that cast shadows across your face. Larger mirrors will also reflect light, which can be helpful to some degree.

Shower enclosure with LED lights
Shower enclosure with LED lights

Shower Lighting

We don’t really think much about shower lighting – if we have a shower light at all! Personally I don’t, but my bathroom is small so there’s no real need for an extra light just for the shower enclosure. If you do have a shower light though you'll often find that they're pretty dim and don't really provide you with any meaningful light. Instead install fully or semi-recessed lights; plus with options like frosted or opal glass you can add a touch of style to illuminate a standout fixture of your bathroom. Make sure that you buy low-voltage fixtures that are suitable for use in a wet environment, which any manufacturer offering shower lighting should state as a safety requirement.

You could even get trendy and install a shower head that is fixed with LED lamps, creating a stunning colourful water effect.

Shower lights should be installed by a qualified electrician to ensure the job is done properly.

Bathroom Finishes

The colour of the walls in your bathroom can affect the quality of the light given off, even if you've placed them correctly. Basically, don't use dark colours as these will negate the effect you're going for. Aim for light neutral tones instead, this will help reflect rather than absorb the light as darker colours would. It’s all about maximising the quality of your lights without making the light fittings themselves overbearing.

Additionally avoid clutter in your bathroom, as you'll end up casting shadows everywhere. Clutter should be kept to a minimum for a minimalist stress-free bathroom anyway.

Watch Bathroom Lighting Ideas

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