Maintaining a well-lit bathroom is vital if you want your relaxing evening baths or morning cleansing rituals to be pleasant and hassle-free. It’s easy to forget how often household members frequent the bathroom, and many people end up overlooking the need to create a practical and attractive bathroom lighting scheme.

Fortunately, we’ve produced a comprehensive guide to help you come up with some perfect bathroom lighting ideas. Whether you’re planning a complete bathroom refit or want to switch up your lighting options, the following guide demonstrates the breadth of choices available to you.

The different types of bathroom lighting

Most bathrooms feature two broad categories of lighting: task lighting and ambient lighting. As the name suggests, task lighting helps bathroom users complete aspects of their grooming routine, such as applying makeup or shaving. Types of task lighting include spotlights, mirror lights, cabinet lights, and recessed downlights. Ambient lighting, on the other hand, helps to create your desired bathrooms atmosphere. It can be bright and energising or subtle and relaxing and includes fittings such as wall lights and ceiling lights.

Ideally, your bathroom should feature a thoughtfully considered combination of both task and ambient lighting. To help you decide which sorts of fittings will work for your bathroom, we’ve broken down your options into the following types:

Spotlights

Spotlights are single light fittings that are modern, sleek and minimalist. The lights can be directed towards the essential areas of the bathroom such as a sink, shower or towel rail. Indeed, opting for spotlights is a great way to create a bespoke lighting solution that suits you.

Spotlights come in two different styles: bar style and plate style. Bar spotlights come in linear designs, while plate designs group the lights together on a square or round base.

Recessed downlights

This type of lighting is built into the ceiling and looks fantastically chic and contemporary. Designed to look minimalistic, recessed lights can be built into alcoves or nooks, making them perfect for small bathrooms that require space-saving solutions.

It is important to note, however, that you must check the fire rating of downlights before installation. Some recessed lights are particularly prone to ceiling fires, so it is vital to check that your chosen lights will be effective at curbing the spread of fire.

Mirror lighting

Are you tired of straining your eyes while putting on makeup or plucking your eyebrows? Then you may benefit from an illuminated bathroom mirror. Indeed, wall-mounted mirrors that feature lamp attachments or integrated lights are excellent for those everyday tasks that require plenty of light and close concentration.

Cabinet lighting

Installing lights in and around your bathroom cabinet is a smart way to illuminate your everyday medicines, toiletries, and cosmetics. Cabinet lights tend to be small and understated and are great for those looking to save space.

Wall lighting

Wall lights come in a wide range of decorative options and can be used in many different ways. Unlike spotlights or recessed lights, for example, wall lights are not used to illuminate specific areas of the bathroom. Instead, they are used to generate a particular atmosphere or to decorate the bathroom in a specific style.

Ceiling lights

Like wall lights, bathroom ceiling lighting is used to light up broad areas of the bathroom rather than specific zones. Ceiling lights come in a wide array of styles such as bathroom pendant lighting or crystal-cut glass styles. These can add a real sense of personality to your room.

Understanding bathroom lighting zones and Ingress Protection (IP) ratings

Before you go about installing your desired light fixtures in your bathroom, it is essential to ascertain whether they are suitably water-resistant. Indeed, electricity and water are a notoriously dangerous combination, and the amount of moisture and steam produced in bathrooms means that you need to be extra careful when selecting your lighting options.

Fortunately, there are two relatively simple measures to help you ascertain the suitability of lights for different areas of your bathrooms. These are known as bathroom hazard zones and IP ratings.

What are bathroom zones and IP ratings?

Bathroom lighting in the UK should conform to IET wiring regulations that divide the bathroom into different hazard zones. Each zone determines what kind of lighting is safe to use according to its distance from specific water sources. For example, a light that is close to a shower must have a high resistance to water.

The zones are separated as follows:

- Zone 0: Inside a shower or bath

- Zone 1: Above a bath or shower up to a height of 2.25m from the bathroom floor

- Zone 2: Anywhere within 0.6m of the perimeter of a bath, shower or basin, and up to a height of 2.25m from the bathroom floor

- Other zones: Other zones include any area outside of those already mentioned

A light’s IP rating, meanwhile, ranks how well an electrical item is protected against liquid and solid objects. An IP rating can be identified as a code that includes the initials’ IP’ and two digits. The higher the second digit, the greater its resistance to water.

Choosing lighting with an IP rating that corresponds with the relevant zone is vital if you want your bathroom to be safe and serviceable.

Light bulbs and fixtures

Once you have ascertained what is possible within the zone limitations of your bathroom, you can select what sort of light bulbs and fixtures you would like to use. The kinds of bulbs you choose should mainly come down to personal taste, and you will need to consider factors such as:

Colour temperature

Warm colour temperatures tend to be more flattering than colder colours. Bright lights also tend to be harsher than their dimmer counterparts. In this way, you will need to think about the lumen level of your lighting.

Light bulb type

Incandescent lights are not particularly standard nowadays, with LED bathroom lighting becoming the new norm. Indeed, bathroom LED lighting tends to be more durable and long-lasting than incandescent types.

Dimmers and switchers

Dimmers allow you to alter the atmosphere of your bathroom at the turn of a button. There’s nothing better than taking a relaxing bath in dim mood lighting, for example.