Bathroom ceiling lighting ideas — bring your space to life with general light

These smart bathroom ceiling lighting ideas will help you create a well-considered lighting scheme

An example of bathroom ceiling lighting ideas showing a large white bathroom with a freestanding bath, a wooden chair and a sputnik light
(Image credit: Richard Powers)

Smart and stylish bathroom ceiling lighting ideas can transform your sanctuary space. 

Rapid changes in technology combined with an ever-increasing array of finishes, styles and shapes have made bathroom lighting one of the most exciting areas of contemporary design.

And there are so many different bathroom lighting ideas to choose from.

So, whether you are looking for a perfect flattering spotlight or a dramatic sculptural pendant lamp, these bathroom ceiling lighting ideas will offer inspiration for every type of space.

Bathroom ceiling lighting ideas

1. Set the scene

A bathroom with a large marble walk in shower opposite a large colorful artwork

(Image credit: Davide Lovatti)

Lighting should be planned at an early stage to ensure all the key fittings of your bathroom ideas are illuminated properly. It can have a massive impact on the end result so 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

A built in bath tub with gray tiles next to a window

(Image credit: Jonathan Gooch)

Cleverly placed LED bathroom lighting ideas can create striking design features as well as provide relaxing ambient lighting for a soothing soak in the tub. 

The latest bathroom lighting trends include smart lighting controls, which allow you to pre-programme the settings. 

‘These lighting scenes cover everything from early mornings with lights gradually illuminating the space, 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

An example of bathroom ceiling lighting ideas showing a bathroom with an industrial style double vanity unit in front of a large mirror and a colorful rug

(Image credit: David Cleveland)

Put task lights, such as the pendant seen here, on one circuit. 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

A bathroom with a gray double vanity unit in front of a large wall mirror and two pendant ceiling lights

(Image credit: Richard Powers)

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

An example of bathroom ceiling lighting ideas showing an orange free-standing bath in front of a large window and below a chandelier

(Image credit: Mark Bolton)

While not usually found in bathrooms, a chandelier will evoke a sense of grandeur and luxury, and they can work well in small bathrooms, too. 

'A piece doesn’t have to be large to make 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 color will help it sit within the scheme.'

6. Check IP ratings

An example of bathroom ceiling lighting ideas showing a marble walk-in shower next to a double vanity unit with vertical wall lamps

(Image credit: Davide Lovatti)

Use external IP rated fittings for safely when you are adding light sources near water; a rating of 67 is safe for bathroom use. 

Mount fittings slightly higher than the shower, as shown in the walk-in shower idea above. This way, they are out of reach, although modern low watt fittings deliver minimal heat.

7. Use low-level lighting

A walk-in shower with small wall tiles and spotlights

(Image credit: Jonathan Gooch)

Lighting is crucial in a bathroom so always ensure that it is sufficient. It is particularly important over the basin area for makeup and grooming but also consider lighting closer to the floor, too. 

'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 sputnik pendant light above a large white freestanding bath and wooden chair

(Image credit: Richard Powers)

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 the bathtub

A bath tub in the center of a bathroom next to a red rug with spotlights above

(Image credit: Davide Lovatti)

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. Add lighting to your vanity area

A double vanity sink unit in a bathroom with a sloping ceiling

(Image credit: Davide Lovatti)

Bathroom vanity ideas require well-positioned lighting. 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

An example of bathroom ceiling lighting ideas showing a luxurious marble bathroom with black walls and a decorative ceiling light

(Image credit: Davide Lovatti)

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

A close-up shot of a modern white sink in front of a white brick wall and orange pendant bead lights hanging down

(Image credit: Montse Garriga Grau)

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 white bathroom.

Keeping the tone and style similar actually makes the statement greater while still maintaining a sense of harmony. Different styles or colors would look chaotic.

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 downlights 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.’

A stylish monochrome bathroom with a bath below a large statement light

(Image credit: Paul Raeside)

What lighting is best for bathrooms?

If you're pondering what lighting is best for bathrooms, you've come to the right place.

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.

A marble bathroom with a white freestanding bath

(Image credit: Davide Lovatti)

What is the best bathroom lighting for high ceilings?

It's important to think about the best lighting for high ceilings, but the good news is there are plenty of options; 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 can expect to pay from around £150 for a one-room design service.