Rapid changes in technology combined with an ever-increasing array of finishes, styles and shapes having made bathroom lighting one of the most exciting areas of contemporary design. Whether you are looking for a perfect flattering spotlight or a dramatically sculptural pendant lamp, find out everything you need to know about bathroom ceiling lighting ideas right here.
WHAT IS THE BEST BATHROOM CEILING LIGHT?
Lighting is such an integral design element these days that it should be planned at the start of a project, and nowhere is this more important than in the bathroom. Here, fittings are generally built into the very fabric of the room, providing not only bright, general light to help with tasks such as shaving, but also ambient light for mood, which may involve a number of applications.
‘The overall illumination tends to be provided by downlight in the ceiling. Rather than having a regular grid of downlights, use them to create feature and focus. Consider installing a row of two or three at the back of the shower or bath, instead of over the centre, so the shafts of light create an effect almost like running water down the wall. The light will also reach the extremities of the room, enhancing the feeling of space.’
For more bathroom ceiling lighting ideas, see: Bathroom lighting ideas to brighten up your space
BATHROOM CEILING LIGHTING IDEAS
1. SET THE SCENE
Lighting can have a massive impact on the end result and should be planned at an early stage to ensure all key fittings are illuminated properly. Aim for sufficient task lighting in the shower and vanity areas, plus ambient lighting around the bath and in alcoves and niches.
Use a qualified electrician to install any bathroom fittings. Lighting must comply with European safety regulations and be designed and rated to be protected against the ingress of water. There are strict regulations on lighting in the bathroom and you must make sure any lighting products are certified for bathroom use, with an appropriate IP rating – IP44 is for general use in bathrooms, and IPXX for use in wet areas, such as shower enclosures. British Standard regulations divide the bathroom into zones based on a perceived level of risk, so consult your electrician before choosing fittings.
2. FOCUS ON PLACEMENT
Cleverly placed LEDs can create striking design features as well as provide relaxing ambient lighting for a soothing soak in the tub. The latest smart lighting controls allow pre-programmed settings. ‘These lighting scenes cover everything from early morning with lights gradually illuminating to a daytime level, to an evening scene that is dimmed to create a peaceful ambience to relax and unwind in,’ explains Phillip Pini, Residential Business Development Manager at Crestron.
3. INSTALL AT LEAST THREE CIRCUITS
Put task lights, such as the pendant seen here, on one. Opt for a pair of these so that the face is lit on both sides with minimal shadow. Add downlights, avoiding a grid format, directly over the bath or basin and finally uplights to highlight details. Symmetry is always pleasing, and these decorative lights, along with the patterned rug and leather chair, create an excellent focal point.
4. TAKE A LAYERED APPROACH
Layer lighting with a combination of functional shadow-free options around the mirror, directional downlights to highlight textures and uplights for drama and mood.
5. ADD AN UNEXPECTED ELEMENT
While not usually found in bathrooms, a chandelier will evoke a sense of grandeur and luxury. ‘A piece doesn’t have to be large to be a statement, it just has to be beautiful,’ explains Sarah Hills, Creative Director, Porta Romana. ‘If you want to have a stand-out piece, then don’t let the rest of the room compete. The right proportion and colour will help it sit within the scheme.’
6. CHECK IP RATINGS
Use external IP rated fittings for safely when you are adding light sources near water; a rating of 67 is safe for bathroom use. In a shower cubicle, mount fittings slightly higher than the shower so that they are out of reach, though modern low watt fittings deliver minimal heat.
7. USE LOW-LEVEL LIGHTING
Lighting is crucial in a bathroom so always ensure that it is sufficient, particularly over the basin area for makeup and grooming. ‘Something that I find very useful is to fit low-level lighting on a sensor for use in the middle of the night, when you want to avoid the harsh glare of main lights,’ says Interior Designer Nicky Dobree.
8. CHOOSE A SCULPTURAL PENDANT
A fitting doesn’t have to be big and bold to add wow-factor to a scheme. Just by being creative with shape, proportion, volume and materials you can instantly transform your room. A pendant light works well over a double-height space. This can be a long-drop chandelier that lights the floor below or alternatively a fitting with a shorter flex that brings life to the upper story.
9. LIGHT A BATHTUB…
Recessed LED downlights make it possible to read in the tub, and highlight its striking shape. ‘Install dimmer switches on all general lighting,’ advises Sally Storey, Design Director at John Cullen. ‘This will allow you to instantly adjust the mood.’
10. AND A VANITY AREA
Recessed LED downlights illuminate the basins, while wall lights provide sideways light to the mirrors, for the most balanced and flattering effect on the face. ‘If you don’t have room for wall lights, then use two downlights in the ceiling, rather than one, to avoid shadows and to light both sides of the face equally,’ says Sally Storey.
11. CREATE A LUXE LOOK
Bathroom lighting need not be confined to spotlights. Instead look for a brave fitting that is a little out of the ordinary. This vintage Thirties-style pendant light makes a statement not only because of its elegant curves and unusual style, but also because it is a surprising addition to this space.
12. CURATE AN INSTALLATION WITH PENDANTS
This curated group of pendant lights has an art installation feel to it. Playing with height and shape, the shades add real impact to this otherwise simple space. Keeping the tone and style similar actually makes the statement greater while still maintaining a sense of harmony – different styles or colours would look chaotic.
WHAT LIGHTING IS BEST FOR BATHROOMS?
Try to plan the lighting scheme at the start of your project, so that it can be integrated into a lighting control system, if you have one,’ advises Emma Scott, Principal Designer at C.P.Hart. ‘Good lighting can transform a room, so spend time working out which features you wish to highlight, where you need bright lighting and how you can switch to softer lighting to relax.’
‘Consider the main source of light in the room, which could be a central ceiling light pendant, a series of downlights, or a combination of the two. Fix all the lights with dimmer switches, so that you can simply control the mood, from full brightness for cleaning the bathroom to soft light for a long, tranquil soak in the tub.’
Mix light sources to alter the atmosphere from ‘getting-ready-for-work’ practical to ‘late-night languor.’ Interior designer Harret Forde advises: ‘Bathroom lighting needs to be flexible. You can have a combination of wall and overhead lighting, but there are specific areas that need highlighting such as sinks, showers and baths. For mirrors, position lights carefully either to the side or in front of you to eliminate shadows.’ Low-level sensor LED lighting can be useful for nocturnal visits while ‘washing’ a wall with light adds texture to flat surfaces and setting spots into niches adds contrast.
WHAT IS THE BEST LIGHTING FOR HIGH CEILINGS?
Bathrooms with high ceilings can benefit from a variety of lighting, from traditional pendant lamps and downlights to large sculptural designs and LED spotlights built into the very fabric of the ceiling.
As lighting choices become more complex, it can make sense to employ a specialist designer. ‘Our job is to simplify the process and help people use lighting in a more interesting way,’ explains Sanjit Bahra of Designpluslight. ‘We also provide objective information on good brands. LEDs vary hugely in quality and you definitely get what you pay for. We advise clients to consult us at the start of their project, at around the same time they are starting to think about the plumbing.’ Costs vary but you expect to pay from around £150 for a one-room design service.