15 Best Bathroom Lighting Ideas

Creating the perfect bathroom lighting atmosphere will typically include a combination of a centerpiece lighting fixture, wall sconces, overhead installations, recessed lighting, and flush mounts. In addition, incorporating reflective surfaces in your bathroom layout can help distribute the light sources you choose to install.

A bathroom is a sanctuary, the one room in your home where you relax and get ready to face or escape the world’s stresses. It should be a tranquil yet functional space. Light plays an integral part in any room’s setting, so bathroom lighting ideas should include general, task, and ambient lighting considerations.

1. Layered Lighting For Tasks And Relaxation

A layered lighting approach is when you combine different light sources to create the perfect illumination level, depending on your reason for going to the bathroom.

multiple light sources in the bathroom
This bathroom has recessed lights, a chandelier and a mirror light

It doesn’t matter if you use only sconces, track lights, recessed lights, a chandelier, or a combination of all of them; the bathroom layout will dictate the layers of light required:

  • General lighting: For example, the general lighting of a bathroom should not be overpowering. It should be a guiding, soft light providing even illumination across the room.

Instead of chandeliers or pendant lights, a recessed light paired with a flood lamp might be a better option when creating soft lighting. The flood light of a recessed fixture will shine the light down while softly lighting up furniture and walls on the vertical.

  • Task lighting: Task lighting illuminates the areas in the bathroom where an action will take place, such as the bath, shower, toilet, and vanity area.
  • Bath lighting: Seeing that a bathtub is a place of relaxation, you can use a combination of task and ambient lighting. Try implementing a minimum of two lights above the tub for even lighting.

    Sconces against the walls next to the bath is an innovative method to create ambient light, doubling as mood lighting. With dimmable lighting options, you can choose between task or mood lighting.
bathtub with candlelights, ceiling and wall sconces
Wall sconces add an elegant feeling to your bathroom
  • Vanity lighting: Ideally, you want the vanity task lights to shine down on the countertop of a vanity. To ensure no shadows on the face, you must place the two vanity lights at eye level against the wall next to the mirror or on the mirror itself.

    Using only one light source above the sink can often lead to shadowing on the face. It’s best to have two lights on either side of the center of the sink to ensure that the lighting from above hits both sides of your face in equal measure.
  • Shower lighting: Create appropriate shower lighting with a couple of overhead, IP-rated lighting fixtures, as placing one light can cause shadows, especially when placed above the shower head.

    The size of the shower will dictate the number of lights you can use. Recessed lights give you more flexibility and installation options than protruding shower lights.
  • Toilet lighting: We use a toilet when nature calls and to catch up on some reading. A condensed light source is essential when reading smaller print. A flood-lamped fixture might not be your best friend if reading is your bathroom task.

2. Spot The Recessed Downlights

Recessed downlights often play a crucial role in providing most of the light in a bathroom, especially in the absence of a primary light source, such as pendants, chandeliers, and lamps. In addition, recessed downlights are the perfect solution for creating non-invasive, sleek task lighting.

Recessed lights can set the tone regarding ambient lighting around the vanity, bath, and shower areas. The best thing about recessed lights is that you can set them up to illuminate specific areas of the bathroom compared to a light fixture that generally lights up the whole room.

recessed downlights for modern bathroom
Recessed downlights set a modern tone

Many recessed lights feature pre-programmed light settings, and choosing products where you control extras such as heating and audio will add to the wow factor of your bathroom experience. Downlights are flexible options, as you can space them as you see fit.

If you intend to use recessed lights in the ceiling above your walk-in shower, ensure that you install moisture-rated fixtures. Aiming the lights at the shower wall instead of the middle will make the shower area appear more prominent.

Recessed lights don’t compete with anything in the bathroom, making it a trendy option if you prefer crisp, clean, modern interiors.

You can hang your showpiece chandelier and know that the recessed lights have no problem with being the supporting cast. For ease of use, choose a product that allows you to set the light color and brightness by smart speaker or remote.

3. Natural Lighting Is Always First Prize

Even with the best-laid plans, natural lighting in your bathroom can be unobtainable or restricted due to existing architectural designs or the location of the bathroom.

If you’re lucky to have natural light flood your bathroom, you should make the best of nature’s gift. Strategically placing mirrored surfaces in a bathroom where natural light streams through windows will help distribute the beautiful sunshine.

bathroom with natural light through window
Nothing is better than having a window in your bathroom

Position stand-alone baths so that the natural light embraces the fixture. Add supporting lights if required and a pair of blinds for privacy. To make a small bathroom seem bigger than it is is to install a wall-to-wall mirror to bounce light across the room.

4. Put Sconces To The Task

Derived from the old French word esconce, which translates to lantern or hiding place and refers to a wall-mounted light fixture. Seeing that you’re not going to place a flaming torch against the bathroom wall, an electric light will have to do.

Sconces placed in appropriate areas in the bathroom will immediately help with task lighting. Place sconces above the bathroom mirror or on the mirror to ensure you get ample light while performing grooming duties.

You can use sconces to light up free-standing and built-in vanities, and placing them directly onto the mirror will help reflect light and reduce shadows. These wall-mounted lights work well in other areas of a bathroom as well.

bathroom with sconces on wall and mirror
Sconce lights are good to add a classic feeling

Linear, frosted glass sconces look beautiful next to curved mirrors. Frosted glass emits soft light, making the bathroom feel warm and fuzzy. Sconces don’t have to be the supporting acts in a bathroom, as artfully designed sconces can be the main decor element in a bathroom while supplying ample task light.

Silver-backed trims on sconces tie in nicely with titanium-coated, brushed nickel faucets, while a brass backplate would pair well with a brass faucet design. Printed lampshades instantly spruce up a bathroom, especially when paired with a colorful tile.

Adjustable sconces are great for smaller bathrooms where you can move them around to where the light is required. One moveable swing arm wall sconce or lamp can help light up specific zones with an arm swing, for example, swinging it over the bath to the vanity stand as required.

5. Accentuate Bathroom Elements

Accent lighting accentuates a part of your bathroom that you want to highlight. You can create accent lighting with a sconce, a spotlight, a lamp, or any light source that highlights the most stunning detail of whatever it is you want to stand out.

Use accent lighting to highlight a sculpture, a piece of art, or structural elements such as an archway. The idea behind accent lighting is not to create a light source that over-powers the room but instead to create an ambient mood around the beautiful elements in your bathroom.

Edison bulb as accentuate lighting element
Edison bulbs can be put in existing fixtures

An Edison light bulb works well when you want to accentuate exposed fixtures in the bathroom while also creating a great aesthetic with its exposed filament.

6. Fire Up The Spotlights

Spotlights can be used in a bathroom that present tricky lighting fixture angles and other tight spaces that resist the light of the center lighting piece. In addition, sloped ceilings must be fitted with adjustable light options, as a standard downlight option will not aim the light down due to the angle of the ceiling.

spotlights above the shower
Spotlights make your bathroom a bright place

A spotlight is a great task lighting option as you can aim the light in the desired direction. Spotlights can be attached to ceilings or walls, giving you a level of control that other types of lighting options may lack.

7. Use Backlights To Create A Serene Atmosphere

A bath is a place of sanctuary, a relaxed haven filled with oils and salts to reset, refresh, and reinvigorate the user. To fully enjoy the bath space, it needs to synchronize with a light that gives it a soft, inviting glow for when you need to find your serenity.

bathtub with different background lights and candles
Create a cozy atmosphere with multiple backlights

A backlight, a sconce downlight, or a few dimmable recessed downlights above the bath can help create the ambient glow. A floor lamp or a light source placed behind the bath on the floor will set the relaxed tone.

8. Let Pretty Pendants Light The Way

The simplest way to upgrade your bathroom space is to hang a beautiful pendant. In more oversized bathrooms, you might hang a few. Depending on the design, a pretty pendant light can make a tired-looking bathroom feel new with the flick of a switch.

A gold pendant works well with a dark ceiling and airy white surroundings. If you want a light source focused on your bathtub, a pendant or two are ideal candidates.

9. Nothing Beats A Bath By Candlelight

After a day of stress, there’s nothing as relaxing as a candle-lit bath, so place bronze candlestick holders or candles in glass holders anywhere near the tub. Flickering candles is a bathtime favorite, and few can argue with the beauty of the mystical light it produces.

candlelights next to bathtub
Have a good time in your bathtub with candle lights

Candelabras are perfect mood shifters, and where you place them can range from free standing to affixed to an adjoining wall.

Light-fixture candelabras can be hung from the ceiling, giving the bathroom a spa-like atmosphere when fitted with warm-temperature light bulbs.

10. The Trusty Table And Floor Lamp

When in doubt give the trusty table lamp a shout. A table lamp can work in a bathroom when it has a big surface to stand on. For example, a table or vanity close to a bath is a perfect spot, as the lamp can create a warm atmosphere for a dream-like bath experience.

modern floor lamp near bathtub
If you’re an extravagant person put a floor lamp in your bathroom

The lamp doesn’t have to have a shade, a brass-boned exposed light will work wonderfully. For those who have no intention of installing light fixtures in the bathroom, a floor lamp can be the solution when opting for simplicity.

11. Employ Flexible Track Lights

Track lighting is a flexible lighting option to use in the bathroom. Track lighting is mounted against a ceiling or vertically against the wall via an electrical support track.

The light fixtures can be moved to any position on the track, as it draws energy from the track and not from a specific electric connection with the lamp.

bathroom moveable track lighting
Track lights can be moved in any direction you want to light up

The flexibility of being able to place the light fixtures anywhere on the track gives you the option of being able to move the lights where they make the most sense. Unlike a ceiling lamp, track lights can typically be directed to a specific spot, down, up, and wherever you need them to shine.

Track lights are dimmable and excellent for general, task, ambient, or spotlight requirements. In addition, the light fixtures on these track lights are interchangeable, which means you can add a pendant or chandelier lamp to the track whenever you want to change the lighting decor.

12. Use Chandeliers To Add A Touch Of Elegance

If you want to add an instant touch of elegance to your bathroom, the most obvious light choice is a stylish chandelier. Pairing a classic ball-and-claw bathtub, with an extravagant red-lamp chandelier, with a dark wall background is a match made in vintage heaven.

elegant chandelier above bathtub
Having a chandelier in your bathroom is not for everyone 🙂

Crystal chandeliers will enhance the look of any modern bathroom. A crystal chandelier will also improve the look of an antique-styled bathroom. Install a crystal chandelier.

13. Flush Mount Ceiling Fixture

Flush mount ceiling fixtures come in many designs, such as Moravian stars, bell lanterns, lotus flowers, hammered metal, olive leaf, classic drum, minimalist, mid-century opal globes, and slim circular light designs. As a result, the options when opting for a flush ceiling mount are endless.

flush mount ceiling fixture for general lighting your bath room
Classic ceiling fixtures are always a good idea

All variations are available with LED lights and fit well into your bathroom. Especially if you’re renting a place, it’s not always possible to light up the bathroom as you want. However, replacing the general lighting with a flush-mount ceiling fixture should not be a problem for any property owner.

14. Bathroom Light Dimmers

It’s not easy getting the bathroom lighting just right. Summer days and winter nights will give you different lighting challenges, moods, and lighting needs. Light dimmers are not that common in every bathroom. But if you consider the installation of a dimmer, you will have complete control over the brightness in your bathroom.

dimmer switch to adjust bathroom lighting
With a dimmer you can easily adjust the brightness of your bathroom lights

A dimmer switch will positively affect the electricity bill, transform your bathroom from night to day, and give you the choice of which layered lighting options to use depending on your need and mood.

15. Make Small Appear Big With A Large Mirror

Not all bathrooms are luxury-sized rooms, and some are small and cramped. An excellent way to make a small bathroom appear bigger is to install a wall-to-wall mirror, which will also help reflect light around the room.

mirrors make a small bathroom larger
Large mirrors make a small room feel big

Mirrors can help reduce the number of lights needed in a bathroom, as these reflective helpers are great light spreaders.