10 of the most beautiful bathroom lighting ideas that will totally elevate your space

With our bathroom lighting ideas, make this room the most flattering place in the home

A bathroom with a long pendant above the bathtub
(Image credit: House of One)

An easy way to give new life to your bathroom is with interesting bathroom lighting ideas. A new light fixture can not only update your bathroom's look and feel but also save you money on a complete renovation. Seek out a stylish fixture, that has an aesthetic quality, and is equally functional.

In a busy household, this is the only space that offers refuge and quality 'me time'. With that kind of use, it makes sense to make this private room as a luxurious sanctuary. 

We spoke to a few designers on how to let the light shine over this space and make it look like a million bucks. Take a look at these modern bathroom ideas and find out how to transform this room into a relaxing, functional refuge with light.

10 glorious bathroom lighting ideas 

1. Add decorative scones to style up the vanity

A bathroom with sconces on either side of the mirror

(Image credit: Lindye Galloway Studio + Shop. Photo credit Chad Mellon)

Consider a fixture that maximizes the elements around it, and functions as both, task and decorative lighting. A wall sconce is a good bet. In a modern bathroom, you could choose metallic fixtures in brass or silver, to add a sparkle to the space.

Do keep in mind to not install any lighting just above the mirror as that would throw a strong light onto your forehead and cast deep shadows below your eyes, nose, and chin.

'With the simple backsplash tile detail we wanted to add a statement with the lighting,' says Lindye Galloway, founder of Lindye Galloway Studio + Shop (opens in new tab). 'We love the color and unexpected style these brass sconces brought to the room, as well as how they complimented the shape of the mirror.'

Epinl Gold Wall Sconce from Amazon (opens in new tab)
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Epinl Gold Wall Sconce from Amazon (opens in new tab)

This rattan, wood, and fabric floor lamp has a subtle form and a clean, simple aesthetic, ideal for layering lighting in any room in the home. 

2. Or a pendant beside the mirror

A bathroom with a curving lighting design

(Image credit: SUBU Design Architecture. Photo credit Lauren Pressey)

An interesting way to challenge the idea of symmetry in your master bathroom is by placing pendant lights on one side of the mirror. This also gives the space a decorated touch. Do remember, you should want to do this with accent lighting versus ambient, especially if you plan to use the mirror for functional activities. 

An asymmetrical lighting piece can lend a unique visual element to a space.

Grant Robertson, the interior design leader at IKEA UK (opens in new tab) & Ireland feels that pendant lights create an atmosphere and support different styles of bathrooms. 'These can be an elegant alternative to more functional bathroom lighting; however, they must be bathroom approved and have the right IP rating for the area you are using them in.'

3. Suspend a chandelier above the bathtub

A bathroom with a chandelier above the bathtub

(Image credit: Lindye Galloway Studio + Shop. Photo credit Chad Mellon)

For a luxurious bathroom, by no means seek out expensive, fancy fixtures. Nothing says timeless style like a chandelier. Placing it right above your bathtub is a great idea, especially if you want to make it the focal point of the room. Remember to suspend it at least 8 feet above the tub or 3 feet out from it. 

In terms of size, consider the scale of the room. You don’t want to overwhelm a small room with a giant chandelier, or an under-sized light in a large room. The height and slope of the ceiling also factor into the size and style of the light you choose.

4. Consider indirect lighting for a spa-like atmosphere

A bathroom with recessed lighting

(Image credit: Reflect Architecture)

Indirect lighting or hidden fixtures that throw a soft, diffused illumination that bounces off of the walls or ceiling help create a spa bathroom-like effect. This system can be installed in different shapes and styles, and for any type of layout, depending on the distribution of your furniture, and the location of your entrances and windows.

‘Inspired by the lighting in hamams, we wanted to make sure the lighting was more felt than seen,' says Trevor Wallace, founder of Reflect Architecture (opens in new tab). 'The recessed ceiling light was placed to establish a physical center point for the space reminiscent of the natural light coming through the oculus. The rest of the lighting was carefully tucked away to illuminate and celebrate the materials and volumes in each of the unique niches around the perimeter.’

5. Introduce a backlit mirror for a luxe feel

A bathroom with backlit mirror

(Image credit: Easy Bathrooms)

Backlit bathroom mirrors are a big staple in modern and contemporary bathrooms. These installed with recessed strips ensure there are no unflattering shadows in the room. Plus, one does not need to worry about adding a sconce or a pendant for adequate lighting. The illumination is pleasant and uniform, and it gives the room a dainty touch.

One thing to keep in mind is choosing the size of the mirror with relation to the size of the vanity. The mirror should not be too big for the room, as when it is lit up, it will look odd and overwhelming. Alternatively, if it's too small, it won't be practical. 

6. Light up the base of the room

A bathroom with light along the floor and walls

(Image credit: Ment Architecture)

If you're thinking of remodeling your bathroom, consider adding lights to the base of the room. This is especially useful if you want to draw attention to the flooring of the space. At night, these work perfectly as nightlights, preventing any accidents or injuries. If your bathroom has an interesting layout or architectural feature, these help spotlight them too.

‘The LED lighting around the base of the room is the L1 Drywall Base R3 by Fry Reglet (opens in new tab),' says Adam Lawler, founding partner at Ment Architecture (opens in new tab). 'These aluminum profiles catch the drywall and have an integral LED light strip that continues around the space. We used the 4" tall version, had them custom powder coated white, and all of the wall base lightings is on dimmers.’

7. An oversized lamp could add a dramatic touch

An oversized lamp in the bathroom

(Image credit: James Merrell)

When it comes to the current lighting trends, bigger is better. And while you may think this could work in the more public areas of the home, say as a living room lighting idea or in the bedroom, we daresay these have a place in your small bathroom as well! Yes, oversized lamps can make the most dramatic yet functional statement in this room.

In this space, the lamp looks like an installation, almost like an art piece, towering over the toilet and the sink. With its large lampshade, it easily casts all the light needed in the room (although the flush-mounted lights installed on the ceiling help with ambient lighting). While this style may not be for everyone, those who love minimalism may want to jump on this trend.

Anglepoise Type 75 Giant Floor Lamp from Lumens (opens in new tab)
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Anglepoise Type 75 Giant Floor Lamp from Lumens (opens in new tab)

This lamp scales up the original 1950s design but is exponentially larger. Its aluminum shade, signature three-spring technology, and finely tuned chrome tension points, all give the lamp structural integrity, making it a dramatic, yet effective lighting piece for the home.

8. Inject a whimsical vibe with a rattan lantern

A bathroom with a rattan light above the bathtub

(Image credit: SIMON BEVAN)

Who can deny the charm of woven materials, that have a classic look and a retro vibe? Materials such as rattan are lightweight, do not attract mold, or easily gather dust, and are relatively easy to clean. This is a particularly useful material to use in tropical climates that have high humidity. 

While you may have seen rattan chairs or side tables, a great way to introduce this in the bathroom or even the powder room is through a lantern. Its water-resistant property makes it ideal for a moisture-prone area like the bathroom. Hang it above the vanity, bathtub, or even by a window, and let it add an endearing quality to this space.

9. Bring in downlights

A bathroom with ceiling downlights

(Image credit: Future)

Downlights are useful for providing a uniform level of ambient illumination in the room. While much is dependent on the placement of these fixtures, sometimes downlights can shine on specific areas and zones in the room. 

These, fixed inside the ceiling or walls may look visually plain but are extremely functional. Plus, due to their almost hidden, away-from-reach position, they can be installed in the wet room without any issues; even above the shower.

Many different types of downlights can be used in the bathroom, be it CRI, dimmable, fixed, or tilted. Ideally, you should choose bright, precision lighting in the morning for applying makeup, etc, but in the evening turn them down, or dim them for a relaxed setting.

David Amos, CEO at Amos Lighting + Home (opens in new tab)offers alternative spots for installing downlights in the room. 'Consider fitting them close to the edge of the room rather than in the center,' says David. 'Low level ‘boxing in’ is also a good location for recessed night lights on a sensor, as they act as ideal comfort lights in the middle of the night.'

10. Light wash a wall

A bathroom with recessed LED lighting

(Image credit: Hodgkinson Design)

Light washing or wall washing is a great shower wall idea. This is a way to throw diffused light along the surface of the wall, to highlight its texture, smoothness, or color. It is done by mounting LED lights on the ceiling so that they beam down, and cascade along the wall at a wide angle. 

By installing ceiling lights at least 2.5 to 3 feet away from the wall, you can wash 8 to 9 feet of vertical wall space with light.

'We used LED strip lighting for emphasis to pick out the wallpaper as a feature in the project,' says Andrew Hodgkinson, founder of Hodginskin Design (opens in new tab). 'It’s also about producing a healthy interior and replicating the sun.' 

What light color is best for bathrooms?

A bathroom vanity illuminated with strip lighting and a wall sconce

(Image credit: Lindye Galloway Studio + Shop. Photo credit Chad Mellon)

A lot of the bathroom's aesthetic and mood depends on the color temperature and light that is chosen for the space. 

The ideal light color temperature for this space is between 2,7000K to 3,000K, which points to warm light as opposed to cool light. This type of illumination is calming and relaxing and allows one to do tasks while also not overwhelming the space. A Color Rendering Index (CRI) of 80 or above is preferable to best be compared to natural sunlight.

Aditi Sharma Maheshwari

Aditi Sharma Maheshwari is an architecture and design journalist with over 10 years of experience. She's worked at some of the leading media houses in India such as Elle Decor, Houzz and Architectural Digest (Condé Nast).  Till recently, she was a freelance writer for publications such as Architectural Digest US, House Beautiful, Stir World, Beautiful Homes India among others. In her spare time, she volunteers at animal shelters and other rescue organizations.