bathroom lighting fixture

Choosing Bathroom Light Fixtures

The lighting fixtures you choose have a significant impact on your bathroom’s ambiance and mood. Create a beautiful and functional space that supports your style theme with a carefully planned lighting plan.

Start by collecting tangible samples, like paint chips and fabric swatches, that inspire you and fit your design vision for the room. Arrange them visually to explore harmonies and contrasts that can help guide your colour selection process.

Ideas for Better Lighting in a Small Bathroom

Lighting can make or break the aesthetic of a bathroom. This is particularly true in small bathrooms, where the right fixtures can create a bright, open space that feels bespoke and luxurious.

One of the best ways to enhance a bathroom is by adding backlighting. This is done using LED strips that can be recessed into the ceiling or hidden in a cove and provide soft illumination without overpowering a bathroom. This can be used to highlight mouldings, artefacts, wall murals and cornices, as well as baths and sinks. This is a popular choice for creating mood-settings in bathrooms and is often installed over features like a new bathtub.

Another way to enhance a bathroom is by using lighting to draw attention to architectural features. Adding a spotlight over a decorative piece, such as an antique or period tub, can make it feel special. Alternatively, opting for smart lighting options that offer the ability to change colour and control brightness can help create a more sophisticated ambience.

Lastly, over-the-mirror fixtures such as sconces are a great option for adding ambient light to any bathroom. They can be particularly effective if they are located on the sides of a large mirror, as this allows them to cast an even glow across the entire surface.

Choosing Bathroom Light Fixtures

When it comes to selecting lighting for a bathroom, the key is to remember that shade and tone matter as much as brightness. Ideally, you should aim for a warm white (2700–3000 Kelvin), which can create a soft, welcoming atmosphere in the room. In addition, choosing bulbs with a lower wattage will also reduce energy consumption.

For those with limited wall space, recessed downlights can be a good alternative. They are easy to install and free up space for other features. They also provide a more streamlined aesthetic than traditional sconces and are safer to use in wet environments. Having a separate circuit for these lights can also be helpful to allow for the creation of task and mood lighting, as needed. This is a useful hack for any room of the house but especially in small bathrooms where the number of fixtures can be limiting.

Design a Cohesive Decorative Lighting Plan

Whether your home leans towards simple or more ornate designs, a bathroom that contains multiple different types of fixtures can still look cohesive when carefully designed. As you plan your decorative lighting scheme, it is important to consider your space and how light will be used before selecting fixture styles and colours. For example, a chandelier may be too ornate for a small powder room, while recessed lights can easily become outdated and disjointed in an open-concept floorplan. It is also helpful to keep in mind that different lighting sources will cast varying amounts of shadow, and your choices can dramatically change the appearance of a room depending on where you position them.

bathroom lighting fixture

In addition to colour, size and style play a critical role in design cohesion. Oversized hardware and fixtures can overwhelm a small bathroom, just as diminutive fixtures will be lost in a larger one. Additionally, the lighting you choose can dramatically affect the mood and feel of your bathroom by influencing its colour temperature, with warmer light creating a cosy atmosphere and cooler light mimicking natural sunlight.

To help you select your desired lighting, begin by gathering samples and images that inspire you, including paint chips, fabric swatches, or photos of fixtures and features that you admire. Visiting showrooms or home design exhibits can be an effective way to interact with fixtures and get a hands-on understanding of their quality before making a purchase. Then, use digital resources like supplier catalogues and websites to explore options that suit your preferences.

Lighting for Multi-Functional Spaces

A well-lit vanity area is an essential part of every bathroom. Whether the room is a bright primary bath or a moody ensuite, lighting should be placed to maximise the functionality of the space and provide ample light for grooming tasks without creating unflattering shadows. Vanity lights, bathroom pendants, Hollywood vanity mirrors with lights and even floor lamps can all be used to illuminate the room while adding interest and drama.

vanity lights

The best vanity lights are centred above the sink to help evenly disperse light around the face for makeup and shaving tasks. They often feature multiple lights on a single bar mount that can be directed in different directions to focus light where it is needed and diffuse other areas of the room. Vanity lights also come in a variety of silhouettes and finishes to complement every design style.

If the room is small and the ceiling height is low, consider a semi- or flush-mount light fixture. These fixtures are easy to install and can work well as a focal point over the tub or vanity area. They come in a variety of shapes and styles, including circular, oval and rectangular. They can be finished in bronze, brushed nickel or stainless steel to coordinate with any bathroom decor.

Lighting should be layered in the room to create a visually-balanced space. Achieving this requires using uplighting, downlighting and wall washing to highlight architectural features and define zones in the room. In multi-functional spaces like a bathroom, it’s important to direct brighter light to the areas that require more attention while keeping other areas softly illuminated for a cohesive visual hierarchy.

Using light to add ambiance to the room can create a relaxing, spa-like feel to your bathroom. Choose light fixtures that have a dimmer switch to give you control over the amount of ambient lighting in the room. Aim for a warm white light (2,700–3,000 Kelvin) to create a cosy and inviting atmosphere.

A quality bulb can make or break the look of a light fixture. When shopping for bulbs, look for high CRI ratings (CRI 80 or higher) to get the most accurate colour representation and avoid a blueish tint that can be common in low-quality bulbs.

How to Create a Whole-Home Lighting Plan

Creating a whole home lighting plan helps you create consistency, improve your visibility throughout the house, and give rooms an elegant, coordinated look. This type of scheme starts with a complete assessment of the lighting in every room, including determining how often you use each space and what you need to illuminate it well. From there, you can design a plan that will provide enough general (ambient) lighting to brighten the room and include decorative or task lights for specific areas of the room, like cabinets or mirrors.

If you have a high ceiling, consider hanging a chandelier or pendant light for some dramatic, decorative lighting. You may also want to add a lighted makeup mirror to your bathroom, especially if you apply make-up in the bath or shower. If you're going to hang any type of ceiling fixture in the bathroom, be sure it is rated for moisture and complies with any safety codes, such as being at least 3-feet away from bathtubs or showers.

Aside from the general overhead lighting in a bathroom, you can also install recessed can lights to highlight vanity areas, showers, and baths. These are especially good for small bathrooms, since the brightness from these lights will help to brighten up dark corners and visually expand the room.

bathroom light fixtures

You can also add picture lights or uplights to the ceiling in your bathroom for some interesting visual contrast. These are especially good for highlighting wall art or other decorative elements in your bathroom, although be careful not to overdo it — too much uplighting can have the opposite effect and make a room feel gloomy and dated.

Another way to add a touch of style and sophistication is by using a lighting control system that lets you turn on/off your lights with the push of a button or a remote. This is ideal for those times when you don't have a lot of time to get ready in the morning or need to set the mood for entertaining guests.

When selecting any type of lighting fixture, it's important to remember that you'll be living with it for a long time. So while you might fall in love with a glamorous chandelier that lights up your bathroom with a pretty shade of blue, be sure it will still look good with the rest of your decor at some point down the road.

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