House of Rohl’s stylist Fiona Gould suggests that you start with "the most important lighting" over the vanity. "Whether you're applying make-up or shaving your face, you want lighting that lights up your face and doesn't cast directional shadows. Think wall sconces, low hanging pendant lights or a mirror with a ring light. Downlights alone aren't sufficient here as they will cast downward shadows, she says.
"The rest of your lighting is what I'd consider general or decorative lighting. A statement pendant or chandelier may not be adequate as stand alone lighting but they add such character to the look of a room and depending on the shape, can cast beautiful, interesting shadows around the space which further enhances the mood."
10 beautiful bathroom lighting ideas
One of the easiest ways to introduce light into a bathroom is with wall lights. Position sconces either side of the mirror for excellent task lighting. Choose styles that reflect the look of your bathroom and consider whether you're after a classic and traditional feel or a more sleek and modern vibe.
"Wall sconces are so popular at the moment, I adore seeing them symmetrically placed either side of a statement mirror at the vanity," says Gould.
Pendant lights are available in a number of styles and can add a touch of style to a bathroom. Position them over sinks for task lighting.
"When it comes to globes, I recommend warm lighting over cool," advises Gould, "as cool bulbs can make the space feel a little too sterile."
LED strip lights
LED strip lighting under cabinets is energy efficient and provide a sleek, modern look. When renovating her bathroom, Interiors Addict publisher Jen Bishop chose two overhead downlights, one downlight above the vanity, one LED strip light in the bath niche and one LED strip light under the vanity on a sensor.
"Having kids, and sometimes visitors from overseas, I loved the idea of a motion sensor on the under-vanity light so it comes on automatically when you walk in. So even if you're not familiar with the bathroom or the switch, or tall enough to reach the switch in the case of my 4 year old, you're covered! It's also a really nice low light that comes on because nobody wants to have to put on bright lights in the middle of the night when nature calls!" she said.
For a soft glow that gives boutique hotel vibes, consider recessed lighting in a niche above your bathtub or in your shower.
"I have a bath every single night and it's a real wellbeing thing for me," says Bishop.
"I wanted my bathing experience to be relaxing with no overhead harsh lighting. When I have a bath I just put the bath niche light on and it's the perfect light! I also leave it on when people come over as it looks rather fancy!
"I don't regret spending a bit extra on the lighting. The bath niche light makes bathing super relaxing, and the sensor light is really practical. On top of that, it does add a more high end look.
"Bathrooms can be really sterile, and in some ways you want them to be, from a hygiene perspective, but playing with lighting allows you to add some mood and softness. Candles are great but you don't want to be burning them all the time!" she adds.
Introduce a touch of glamour to your bathroom with chandelier lighting. Choose from a variety of designs to suit your decorating theme, from traditional crystal chandeliers to modern, minimalist styles.
LED mirrors light up your entire face like a ring camera, which is ideal for applying make-up. According to Reece Bathroom's product marketing lead, Amy Nayler, the Kado Lussi mirror allows you to change between your choice of warm or cool lighting to set the mood. "Lighting in the bathroom can play a different role at different times of the day. Cool lighting in the morning is great for applying make-up while warm lighting at night is better for unwinding before bed."
Installing LED lighting under a mirror cabinet imbues the space with a soft glow while providing task lighting for the basin. Jen Bishop, publisher of Interiors Addict, explains that she added an under mirror light in her en-suite because it "gives a nice option for a soft light in there too. I don't think I can ever have a bathroom without mood lighting again!"
You can't beat natural lighting when it comes to brightening the bathroom. Adding or enlarging an existing window provides ventilation, which is essential to keeping bathrooms free from damp and mould. Consider floor to ceiling windows for a dramatic effect.
If your bathroom doesn't have windows, sky lights can provide the perfect solution to introducing natural light into your bathroom. They create a relaxing, spa-like atmosphere. If your home has a roof that makes installing one tricky, consider a solar-powered light alternative to a skylight. Best of you, you can DIY!
Downlights are a versatile lighting solution for bathrooms for general illumination, but they should be layered with other lighting sources, such as recessed lighting, pendants and wall lights. In the bathroom example above, wall sconces are combined with strategically placed downlights for providing task lighting for the mirrors. The wall sconces counteract the shadows cast from the downlights.
Ceiling lights can also provide task lighting, accent lighting and mood lighting, and the streamlined design saves space while adding functionality to the bathroom environment.
"Dimmable lighting is a must to ensure you can set the mood for a long soak in the evening," says Gould. "Another must to consider are heat lamps for those frosty mornings."
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