How to light a bathroom

How to light a bathroom

You might not immediately realise it, but a bathroom is actually something of a multi-tasking room. In fact, in some ways, it’s not dissimilar to a kitchen in that it has to be both a practical area and somewhere in which to unwind. (That is, if you like to unwind whilst cooking and chatting to guests.)

I’m always talking about how lighting can create a mood – and so here I’m going to share some tips on getting your bathroom lighting right.

  1. Before you make any decisions, you will need to make sure you have proper bathroom lighting fitted. Different areas will need different International Protection (IP) ratings, for example inside the shower. Talk to a specialist lighting supplier about what is available to use and discuss with your electrician/bathroom designer where everything should be fitted.

  2. Think of mood and task lighting. You’ll want task lighting in areas where everything should be bright and clear – around a mirror for example, for shaving and putting on make-up. Actors have always had lights around the mirrors in their dressing room for good reason – it gives the best illumination for a task and it’s also the most flattering!

  3. I’m a great fan of creating small niches in bathrooms and then back-lighting them. You can use the niches for storing elegant bath oils and they will also break up an expanse of tiling, as well as providing a subtle glow.

  4. You may also want to light the interior of cupboards so you can read the labels of various bottles lurking at the back.

  5. If you have feature art or tiles in your bathroom, you could also look at lighting them – and lights can be programmed on different circuits to change colours at the flick of a switch – going from a golden glow to a soft pink for example.

  6. Uplighters behind baths and washbasins can look very stylish and contemporary.

  7. Putting on a bright light in the middle of the night when you’re off to the bathroom for a “comfort” stop can be very disturbing to sleep patterns. Instead, have passive infrared sensors (PIRs) fitted which will put on low level lighting automatically when you enter, and switch off when you leave.

  8. Think about the natural daylight that will come into your bathroom too. If it’s flooded with sunshine during the day you will need individually controlled lights – you won’t want to brighten the whole room just to do your make-up or take an afternoon shower. On the other hand, a bathroom with no external windows will need constantly illuminating whenever you enter. In either case, you will need lights that can be independently controlled from one another.

  9. I’ve worked John Cullen Lighting on several projects and am always very impressed by their mood lighting  – which allows clients to choose an ambience to suit – for example relaxed lighting, daytime lighting, low-level night light … All bathrooms featured designed by Sarah Ward.