If we are lucky enough to have the space and a healthy decor budget, our bathrooms can be places of luxurious relaxation. But large or small, good lighting is an essential in a bathroom. Good lighting doesn’t have to be expensive, but it does need to be well planned.

Good design always starts with good questions, or as Frank Lloyd Wright put it, “form follows function”. One of the most important questions to ask when designing any aspect of a room is “what are the activities that are going on in this space?”. An important additional question is “where exactly are they taking place?”. To get a better idea of what I mean, keep reading – I’ll walk you through the process!

Activities That May Affect How You Design Your Lighting Scheme

Let’s start by considering some of the ways we use the bathroom, and what kind of light you need for each:

  1. Shaving: a grooming task you definitely want to be able to see well for, I’m sure you’ll agree! A man could shave his face at the sink – but what if he prefers to shave in the shower on hectic workday mornings? Perhaps there is a woman shaving her legs in the bath/shower area as well.
  2. Makeup and hair: while some women have a vanity table in their bedrooms, most hair styling and makeup happens in bathrooms. For makeup application, even lighting for the face that doesn’t cast unflattering shadows is essential. For hair styling, lighting has to be bright enough so that you can see what you’re doing.
  3. Minor first aid: for minor cuts, splinters, etc., the bathroom tends to be where to go to clean and treat our injuries. Again, good lighting is needed for this.
  4. Bathing for relaxation purposes: in terms of lighting, this is very different from the points above! If you’re relaxing in your bubbles, do you want to be squinting under glare of enough light for an operating room? Of course not! You want very mellow lighting for this activity.
  5. What about middle of the night bathroom visits?

So what have we learned so far? We have many different lighting types to factor in. Our next step is address the needs we’ve identified above.

Lighting Solutions for the Bathroom

To help us design a lighting scheme that works for all these different activities, there are a few good rules of thumb that should be followed:

  1. Have ceiling lights installed in any part of the room where good lighting is needed – not just one light in the centre of the ceiling. Even in the tiniest of bathrooms, a central ceiling light won’t provide enough light to the shower area. A great solution is to install halogen pot lights throughout the bathroom.
  2. Install dimmers on your lights for when you want a more relaxed mood. Now you can have your nice relaxing bath!
  3. For makeup, have lights on either side of the mirror to prevent harsh shadows in the face. Above the mirror works as well, but if your space allows, add sconces beside the mirror – they’re much more effective.
  4. Illuminating the floor with energy-efficient LED strips can provide visibility for night time bathroom trips. Installed under cabinets so you don’t see the lights themselves, the soft glow is easy on the eyes but is safer than nothing, and more elegant than the plug-in variety of night light.

Lighting design can, of course, get much more sophisticated than what I’ve outlined here. Our designers especially enjoy helping clients get the most out of their bathrooms with a gorgeous lighting scheme. But if you address the points I’ve mentioned above, you should be able to enjoy your bathroom for many years to come, whether you’re grooming or bathing.

Do you have any thoughts about bathroom lighting that you’d like to share? I’d love to hear them!