Forget the old fluorescents and take a tour of different bathroom lighting styles that are available today. In fact, virtually any style of fixture can be used in your bathroom, as long as it provides the right kind of light and works with the decor. To properly illuminate your bathroom, you need several kinds of lighting.
First, you need light that is bright enough for shaving, applying make-up and other self-care routines. On the other hand, you want the bathroom to feel serene, so you’ll want some ambient or accent lighting too. Before you browse this selection of lighting ideas to transform your space, check out these tips to keep in mind when choosing bathroom lighting.
Bathroom lighting is generally oriented upward or downward and depending on where you’re putting the fixture, one will be better that the other. Lights that point upward are those that spread through the whole space and provide ambient light. If you don’t have very much natural light in your bathroom, you’ll want to incorporate these somewhere in your plan so that there is a soft layer of lighting throughout the space.
Lighting that directs the illumination downward are what you want above your vanity. These focus the light where you want it—in front of the mirror where you’ll be doing your grooming. Keep these two concepts in mind as you plan other fixtures in your bathroom space.
Lighting in Layers
Layering your lighting may sound like a complex design term, but it’s actually pretty simple. You want to have more than just the much-maligned boob light on the ceiling because by it’s simply a utility light that illuminates the space so that you can see. You need more types to make your room feel welcoming and properly light up spots where you’ll be doing your grooming. We’ve already mentioned the terms ambient lighting and task lighting, but there’s a third one too: accent lighting.
Ambient lighting is the general lighting in the space, including that boob light fixture. It also includes any recessed lighting or other fixtures that provide general illumination. Every space needs this type of light to be functional and safe. This type of lighting does not have to be intense but you’ll want to assess your space for the optimum number of lights and how bright those should be.
Task lighting is what illuminates the space so that you can see to do what you need to do. Examples are the desk lamp you use to work and the reading light next to your bed. In the bathroom, the best example is the vanity light. The primary purpose of the lights around your vanity is to brighten the space where you will be standing to get ready, which is in front of the mirror. This can be light fixtures around the mirror or above, depending on your design.
Accent lighting is like the decorations on a cake – not essential but they sure make it beautiful to look at. While accent lights can be functional, that’s not their primary purpose. The best example is hanging a chandelier over a bathtub. That type of fixture is more about style and mood than anything else. The only limit here is your budget!
Certainly, you want a functional and stylish bathroom, but safety is still paramount. Before you invest in a costly pendant or chandelier, it’s best to make sure that the fixture is suitable and safe for use where you plan to install it.
Building codes vary by location and some may be more or less strict than those set by the US National Electrical Code. While it’s largely about wiring, it also has some regulations that apply to bathroom lighting. Generally, the minimum is that a bathroom must have at least one ceiling-mounted light fixture that is controlled by a wall switch, and this can but does not have to have a ventilation fan included. Other countries have zone ratings that govern what types of fixtures can be used in the various parts of the bathroom, classified by how wet those environment are. Outside of those areas, anything goes for the designer fixtures that you like – pick your favorites and enjoy your bathroom!
Bathroom Lighting Fixture Ideas
A little mood lighting for the bathroom can be just the ticket for creating a spa-like space. We really like these Tetra wall lights by Émilie Cathelineu for CVL for adding an artful touch as well. The fixtures come in different finishes and can be arranged in a multitude of combinations. The brass triangles can be placed to look like a single fixture or arranged across an expanse of wall for a flowing design. They would be perfect on the wall above a tub or beside the central bathroom mirror.
These molten blobs look as though they were captured mid-movement and attached to the wall. The sconces are by SKLO, a lighting company from the Czech Republic. Crafted from mouth-blown glass, each one is slightly different, adding to the artisan appeal. These fixtures are ideal for adding ambient light to the bathroom. Who needs a nightlight when you can use beautiful, stylish sconces to add a soft glow to the bathroom? This is the company’s Twin Sconce, new for 2018, that was launched at ICFF in New York.
Wall lights – traditionally called sconces – certainly don’t; have to look traditional at all and the Z Bar is a great example of a new modern design. Decidedly minimalist, these slim lights would be perfect in a par alongside a door, mirror or another element. They’d also be great a bathroom where the toilet is in a separate little room because they provide enough light without being as jarring as an overhead light would be in the middle of the night. The slim design is also ideal for small bathrooms that need an extra light element.
Instead of having artwork and accent lighting, why not choose a fixture that serves as both? These wall fixtures from CP Lighting are ideal because they add plenty of moody accent lighting and are also a wall sculpture that is beautiful on its own the daylight as well as when illuminated. Options like this are great for adding something unexpected to a bathroom while amping up the lighting glamour.
For real drama in the bathroom, how about choosing a lighted glass vanity? This glass countertop has depth and interior texture, in addition to cool blue light. While it certainly doesn’t add enough light for tasks, it puts off a chic glow that is attention-getting and can serve as a low light source at night when you don’t want bright lights to ruin your sleep. Moreover, glass is smooth and easy to keep clean. We would love to have this in a smaller version for a really awesome powder room that would be the talk of the neighborhood.
Talk about mood lighting, this blue glass vanity is lit from inside and creates a bathroom ambiance like no other. Whether you choose this for your mater bathroom or opt to put in on show in a powder room, it elevates this basic fixture to a whole new level. The soft glow that emanates from inside is a very unexpected lighting element that you probably didn’t know to consider for your bathroom lighting! This is definitely accent lighting at its most innovative.
Once upon a time, pendants were relegated mainly to the kitchen and dining room, but no longer. These fixtures are a great way to add illumination in the bathroom. This DXV bathroom design uses two pendants to flank the mirror, much as sconces would, adding light to the vanity area. They can also be used without the backlight of the mirror to provide moodier lighting. Also, take note that they are sleek and minimal, not fussy. This makes them perfect for a variety of bathroom styles.
Pendants can also be used over the vanity in a more traditional arrangement. This bathroom design puts the fixtures off center over the expanse of countertop, where light is most needed. The large, exposed bulb styles are a novel thing to use on the bathroom, but they add a bit of an eclectic touch to an otherwise modern and minimalist bathroom vanity set. They are also a bright counterpart to the backlighting of the mirror, which is becoming more common in today’s bathroom lighting schemes.
Of course, pendant lighting is not limited to the bare-bulb style. Add some luxurious warmth to the bathroom by choosing a pendant like Fin, by Original BTC from the UK. This pendant is made from bone china formed into an organic shape that has a really appealing glow when lit. Any style of pendant can be used in the bathroom, from global and organic to modern or industrial. The main idea is to throw out any preconceived notions of what bathroom lighting should be and instead opt for fixtures that are functional and achieve the look you want.
Long a standby for kitchens and living rooms, artful pendants are increasingly making their way into bathrooms as accent lighting. This artful piece by Higashi Fushimi would be very stylish suspended by the vanity in place of a sconce. It could also be used in a corner near a bathtub for added ambiance.
Mater’s pendant lights are also a good choice for installing by a vanity and this style with clear glass provides more light than a frosted glass shade does. While these can be used as ambient lighting, they also make a great design accent in the bathroom, no matter where you put them. The main thing is to not overlook pendants as a viable and very desirable option for use in any bathroom.
Specialty Design Suspended Lights
Suspended lights and chandeliers can have a place in the bathroom too. While they might not be the style to install over a vanity, they could serve as overhead fixtures or hang above a bathtub. In fact, choosing a statement fixture to hang over a freestanding tub creates a luxurious and relaxing setting for the bathroom. This golden piece is from the Roinn series by Luxi Studioworks of Canada. The Art Deco-inspired pattern is perfect for a bathroom that needs a touch of glamour. If the gold is too bold, the fixture comes in other finishes that are not as shiny but no less stylish.
Bright and modern, this type of fixture would be great in a minimalist or industrial bathroom design. Created by Studio Endo, the Alpine V is a modular style from the Alpine chandelier collection. The customizable arrangement could hang along a wall as shown or be used over a tub or other section of the bathroom. It’s a cool lighting fixture that provides plenty of illumination.
Designer fixtures that are suspended from the ceiling look fabulous in the center of a large bathroom or over a stylish standalone tub. This geometric design from New Tendency is modern but also works for transitional spaces. It has an updated style that could also be used to infuse a little modernism into a bathroom that is trending toward a farmhouse look.
For something a little edgier, this suspended light fixture from Kalmar is also an option for the center of the bathroom or over the tub. The slightly industrial look can complement a range of bathroom styles, from modern to transitional and a few in between. The architectural shade on this fixture allows more light to shine out of the fixture and could help in a spot that needs a little extra illumination.
While a table lamp is not safe for use on the bathroom, these Shutter Lights from A Good Thing are available in a hard-wired version that is perfect for the bathroom wall. The fixture’s LEDs emit a diffuse light that you can control. The lid is the switch for turning the light on and off, but it can also control the amount of light that comes out, as well as the direction. It would be a very stylish alternative to a nightlight because it can be mounted on the bathroom wall near the door and easily controlled.
While at its most basic, Koncept’s Gravy LED Wall Sconce is just that – a wall sconce – it’s also much more than a static fixture. You can adjust the light from this simple fixture in so many ways: You can turn the shade in any direction a full 360 degrees s that it functions as an accent, ambient or task light. It’s also super sleek because no switch or button is required to turn it on or dim it….just the touch of a finger. The Gravy would be a great addition to so many spots in the bathroom!
Also, disc shapes, the Chrona lights by Graypants are a fabulous option for the bathroom because they can be hung vertically or horizontally, individually or in groups. There is also an option for a wall sconce with these fixtures. The Chroma light function as either accent lighting or ambient lighting. A range of sizes is also available for these thin brass and acrylic lights, from 6 to 17 inches.
In many cases, you will still need some sort of overhead light in the bathroom. that said, you don’t have to go for the plain and boring sort from the home store. Instead, choose something that reflects the bathroom’s interior design style. For instance, the fixture above has the shape of a basic ceiling light but is glammed up with rows of gems on the bottom as well as the sides. It’s a luxurious touch for a traditional or opulent bathroom design.
We often think of statement chandeliers or opulent lighting in the center of the entryway or dining room. But how about the bathroom too? Large or small, there’s no reason that you can’t consider installing a ceiling fixture that sets the mood for a luxurious bathroom. This example is an installation of multiple blown glass fixtures in one outstanding arrangement. If you’re look for drama in the bathroom, this is a sure way to create it!
If you’re planning a total bathroom renovation, planning is key, and don’t forget to include stylish bathroom lighting in your design. If you’re simply looking to refresh your bathroom, changing out the lighting fixtures can be a cost-effective means to achieve a current and on-trend feeling in the space. Before you buy, browse lighting of all kinds and be sure that the style and proportions fit the design goal you are trying to achieve. Most of all, have fun with it.