What is the Best Lighting For a Bathroom?

Once upon a time, the bathroom used to be one of the places where people spent the least amount of time in the house.

Nowadays, things have taken a drastic turn and the purpose of the bathroom has now exploded past its conventional use.

People now spend more time in the bathroom and treating themselves to soothing exercises such as pirouetting, skin care, make-up, relaxation and weirdly, even dining.

It’s no surprise that such burst in the number of hours spent dictates a new rule for the eminent expanse: that it be able to provide the situations and conditions to match the mood of its user at all times.

That’s where lighting comes to play.

With proper lighting, any dead room can easily be brought back to life and spaces such as the bathroom can easily be turned into one of the most exciting places to be at home.

Here, we take a look at the best types of lighting any modern bathroom design can adopt. Without wasting time, let’s get to it.

The best lighting for a bathroom is one that delivers on the four lighting requirements of any modern bathroom. This means that it is able to provide task, decorative, mood, and general lightening where necessary. Lighting elements such as scones, fixtures, hang lights, celling lights, and décor lights can be used in creative combination with one another to achieve such scheme.

Most traditional bathrooms are small and have cramped spaces, and this means they would hardly ever require so much other than a central celling light to satisfy the requirement of their lighting. But someone keen on being creative can still play around with ideas and come up with a decorative masterpiece.

Below, we discuss extensively on how to properly light up a bathroom space. But before we jump into that, let’s discuss something more important.

The type of bulb matters

It’s good to know that the market of lighting is expansive out there, at the same time, it’s disheartening to learn not all bulbs can safely go inside the bathroom for illumination. Such restriction however, is for a reason: a very good one for that matter.

Bulbs not rated for “moisture safety” could end up becoming damaged in no time when water consistently splash into them. To combat such issue, manufacturers came up splash proof products such as those from Astro, and unions gave them ratings and indicated where in the bathroom different ratings can safely be fixed.

IP44 and IP65 bulbs light fittings exists in different markets which designate the degree of splash each category can tolerate. IP44 bulbs can be placed anywhere in a bathroom with the exception of the bath area. The more flexible IP65 can the fixed inside the bath area with no problems incurred at all.

So whenever possible, make it a point of duty to always go for bulbs that are highly rated for splash, especially those kept at skirting heights such as the recessed led bulbs. If possible, make all the bulbs including the ceiling bulbs splash proof.

A dimmer can make a difference

A light dimmer allows a user to vary the intensity of certain light bulbs around the house, in this case, the bathroom bulbs. While not all lighting bulbs can be controlled using a dimmer switch, the vast majority that can are the ones you’ll find dominating the market nowadays. And that’s good news.

With a light dimmer, you have the control over how harsh or soft you want your bathroom lighting to be which makes experimenting for different decorative schemes exciting. So you should consider getting one for the ceiling type bulbs we’ll be discussing below.

Take a good look at your space

One final thing you want to consider before heading full force into your mission of transforming your bathroom space into a domain from “starwars”, is to consider your space. Not all spaces would gain that extra edge with spot and down lights. Some, like the really small traditional bathrooms are better left with a central ceiling light that provides all or most of the illumination. And these sometimes don’t even have spaces for décor, which is plainly telling us to skip the decorative lightening.

Others that follow a more modern approach would require several scenes of lighting to match specific areas. Because of the complexity that exist in designing bathrooms, you want to give yours a proper look before starting to invest in the products mentioned below.

The best lighting for a bathroom

Now that we’ve pushed all the triple exclamation warnings aside. Let us get to how we can create the best lightening scenes in our bathrooms. In my own terms of explanation, there are four schemes of lightening any modern or sophisticated bathroom should use. They include:

  1. General Lightning
  2. Task Lighting
  3. Decorative Lighting
  4. Mood Lighting

Let’s take an extensive look at each lightning category one after the other.

General Lighting

This scheme of lightening concerns general illumination of the bathroom. And it will come in handy for days when you’re in a rush and just want to get things done and done really fast.

You want to be able to see things clearly and in that case, you’ll need the help of the ceiling lights that can illuminate a wide range of area.

The bulbs that fall into this scheme of lightening include:

The central ceiling bulbs: These come in various forms and shape and are typically fixed to the ceiling. They provide a good spread of light and are typically bright on the harsh side, although softer temperatures can be obtained. I recommend you go for a harsher white bulb and connect it to a dimmer switch. Make sure to go for bulbs that are compatible with a dimmer switch such as the standard filament type bulbs, mains (those connected to the main electricity supply: 240 volts) and low halogen bulbs. Attaching a dimmer can be useful for days when you feel like tweaking the ambience of your bathroom to suit your mood.

Down lights: Down lights are more of guiders and highlighters in that they guide light to display in certain shapes and patterns and also to certain directions. The “decorative lighting scheme” has every right to claim the down lights because they also add elements of sophistication to areas where they illuminate. Down lights typically offer warm and soft colors and are not as harsh as mains lighting. Depending on your bathroom size and layout, you may choose to spread few to several down lights in your ceiling to highlight different parts of a wall. You can also fix them in straight patterns for aesthetics. One creative way to use down lights is to fix them at corners so they cast scalloped wash on the walls that look really nice.

Spot lights: Spot lights ditch the forced idea of spreading light to an entire area and focus only on pointing them to places where they are required. They have rotatable heads that enable them to be positioned in such manner. Spot lights can be used in place of the central celling bulbs to gently illuminate places such as shower cubicle etc.

Consider these light bulbs carefully in order to come up with really great general lightening for your bathroom.

Task Lighting

Bathroom task lighting as the name suggest is any lightening that aids users to perform tasks such as skin care and make up and conscious activities like soliloquy.

Most of these concentrates around vanities and their mirrors. There’s a wide array of options to choose from when it comes to vanity lights.

The best in my opinion, is to fix scones or vanity light fixtures around your mirrors to provide flattering illumination and eliminate shadows. You can use two scones positioned at eye level and on each side of the mirror.

Additionally, you can add a vanity fixture at the topmost part of the mirror to complete the three point lightning system which will provide great ambience for dedicated tasks such as shaving and make up. Always avoid placing or depending on ceiling lights, down lights or spot lights above for illuminating your face in the mirror. They will cast shadow from above which would make performing tasks like makeup a bit annoying.

One huge alternative is to consider illuminated mirrors. These come with their source of illumination integrated to them at either sides (vertically) or the top (horizontally). Whichever one you end up choosing will depend on the type of vanity you have and to some extent, your personal preference.

Decorative lighting

This lighting comes after task and general lighting. This adds the layer of sophistication and elegance you require in your bathroom. Feel free to be creative and have fun.

In decorative lighting, you fall back to down lights and their abilities to guide light in certain ways to realize marvelous ideas. Then you can look over to other options such as chandeliers, lit vase and trees, decorative wall bulbs or hanging lights. Place them at strategic locations around the room to highlight its importance.

Here are a few tips to take your bathroom décor to the next level

  1. Use hanging lights to highlight decorated walls.
  2. Fix sophisticated designs of lighting on walls to burst life into that area.
  3. Fix chandeliers at central spaces or the most prominent place in the bathroom to draw attention.
  4. Use down lights to create patterns on walls or to highlight architectural masterpiece or flowers placed in storage niches.
  5. Your choice of bulb colors should mostly be influenced by the color of paint in the concerned area of the bathroom.

Mood Lighting

Mood lighting is all about tweaking the intensity of light and selecting the right colors to match a mood. At night time, you’re more relaxed and wouldn’t require the harsh power of light emitted by your mains bulb or spot lights. So you keep them off or reduce their intensity and opt for softer wall mounted LED lights at designated spots i.e. near the shower cubicle to dominate the illumination.


There isn’t a universal best lighting scheme for bathrooms. Every bathroom is created differently and would require different scene(s) of lightening to come alive. Factors like design (paint and layout), budget and personal preference all come to play in choosing the best lighting for a particular bathroom, but the specific schemes to pay attention to have been laid out so you can at least have an idea on how to arrive at a decorative masterpiece.