Bathroom lighting ideas

Words Kylie Jackes

10 bright ideas for your bathroom

1. Windows

When it comes to windows, think big. Look to include floor-to-ceiling opaque glass which will provide diffused light, utilise the height of the room by installing clerestory windows or try a bank of louvres, which will draw in light and fresh air. If renovating, consider enlarging an existing window by installing larger casement or bi-folds to provide a greater connection to the outdoors. By upping the natural light quotient you’ll reduce your dependence on artificial lighting and save on electricity.

2. Small spaces

In smaller spaces, where adding or enlarging windows isn’t possible, a skylight is a great option. “Skylights are particularly beneficial for bathrooms as they let in far more light than a vertical window of the same size, and can be installed with an internal blind to maintain privacy,” explains Marc Haseler of Velux. To help minimise the build up of condensation and encourage ventilation, opt for a model which can be opened either manually or electronically to allow moist air and odours to escape. Top-end models, such as the Velux ‘VSE’ skylight, operated via a remote,can be programmed to open and close during set times to enable maximum airflow and come with built-in rain sensors which automatically close the skylight in bad weather.

3. Privacy

Opt for blinds and louvres which offer privacy and the flexibility to adjust the level of light entering the bathroom. Luxaflex ‘Silhouette’ shades come in a variety of translucent and block-out fabrics. “The shades feature fabric vanes suspended between two sheer fabric facings, which can be opened for a full, soft focus view, closed for privacy or tilted for light control,” explains Luxaflex’s Jenny Brown.

4. Bathroom finishes

Bathroom finishes play a key role – the reflective qualities of tiles and mirrors work wonders in maximising and dispersing light. “When selecting tiles and paint, consider light neutral tones, which will reflect rather than absorb light, and keep surfaces streamlined,” advises Vicki Poulter of Designing Women. Perspex canisters, shelving and furniture pieces add fluidity and transparency, making them a great choice in the bathroom.

5. Natural light

Nothing beats natural light for ensuring your make-up goes on evenly, yet at certain times of the day, it can be blinding. “Sunlight on glossy white surfaces can create a lot of glare if it’s not properly modulated,” explains Vicki. “Waterproof PVC shutters, which won’t warp or attract mildew, are an ideal solution. When it’s really bright outside you can tilt them upwards and direct light towards the ceiling to make the room seem larger, and when the light is softer, you can open the shutters fully.”

Traditional bathroom designs
Modern bathroom designs
Bathroom trends right now
Transform your bathroom
Easy ways to keep your bathroom clean

How to decorate a small bathroom

6. Bathroom features

Draw attention to your bathroom’s best features with accent lighting. Recessed spotlights highlighting the shower or LED lights integrated around or within cabinetry (try the Hettich ‘Magic’ system), create another layer of illumination. A spotlight can also be used to highlight decorative touches, such as a piece of art. Having lights wired to separate switches and installing dimmers also provides creative flexibility – you can transform the ambience with a simple flick of the switch for those times you want a low-key haven.

7. Bathroom fittings

Task lighting is necessary in places like the vanity and mirror, which are prime preening areas. “Vertical fittings or sconces mounted on either side or above the mirror are best for casting an even light across the face and minimising shadows under the chin, eyes, cheeks and forehead,” advises Glen Robinson of Beacon Lighting. The shower, particularly in large bathrooms, is another area which may need specific task lighting and, due to the proximity to water, moisture-proof fittings are essential. When planning your lighting design, it’s important to consult a licensed electrician to ensure the safe placement of light fittings and power points.

8. Night time

For night-time access, you need a source of ambient light, generally obtained from a central fixture such as a surface-mounted ceiling or wall light. LED strip lighting concealed behind a moulding, or tucked under a shelf, will add a soft glow around the perimeter of the room, particularly effective in small bathrooms as it draws your attention outward. If you have a high ceiling, add a luminous focal point with a striking pendant positioned in the corner, or alongside the vanity.

9. Heat lights

Bathrooms are prone to condensation, and the resulting mould and moisture problems caused by high humidity. A great way to boost ventilation is to pair your lighting with an extraction fan. Consider a fan with a heat light, such as the IXL ‘Neo Dual’ Tastic fan – it will also make stepping in and out of the shower far less chilly in winter.

10. Colour code
The colour of your walls and the globes you select will have a dramatic effect on the light quality and the tone it casts. “Some paint colours will work perfectly with cool white bulbs while others cast a better light with warm white, so it’s beneficial to discuss your palette of finishes with a lighting professional to achieve a colour balance which is as natural as possible,” says Glen Robinson of Beacon Lighting. “As a general rule, use a fluorescent fitting for task lighting, as it will reflect the most natural skin tone in the mirror.” Where possible, look to use LEDs, which are at least 75 per cent more efficient than incandescent globes.