What Is The Best Lighting For Bathroom?

best lighting for bathroom

If you’re currently going through a bathroom renovation you’re probably wondering what the best lighting for bathroom is? It’s not just a simple case of sticking some downlights into place and hoping for the best. The bathroom is one of the key rooms in the home that needs flexibility and control over the lighting. Why?

The role of the room regularly changes with a bathroom – it needs to take you from AM shaving or applying makeup, to PM relaxing in the bath and unwinding from the day.

Not having that flexibility with your lighting is the biggest mistake you can mistake, and it’s one that needs careful consideration in a bathroom.

We explore everything you need to know about choosing the the best lighting for bathroom, what to watch out for, and ultimately, how you can have both function, and aesthetics in a bathroom.

What Is The Best Lighting For Bathroom?

Task Lighting – Downlights

There’s a common misconception that downlights should be the only lights you use in a bathroom, or it’s the easiest option to go for. WRONG.

There’s a time and a place for downlights, but these should be used purely for task lighting. These are great in areas that need additional lighting for tasks, BUT don’t use these around a mirror. They will cast light directly onto your face making your skin look more tired than it is. We can all relate to those bathroom mirrors in hotels that we question we even look like that, right?

IP65 downlights are the best choice for bathroom lighting as they are suitably IP rated to come into contact with moisture and humidity so they can be fitted near showers and baths. There is much more choice on the market for IP65 rated downlights as opposed to other bathroom light fittings.

If you do opt for downlights, always choose dimmable downlights – this is key to achieving that flexibility over your lighting.

Being able to go from bright light in the mornings to soft, ambient levels of light in the evening will make your bathroom feel so much nicer to be in.

shower wet room with downlights

High CRI Lights

We’re getting technical now, but this is an important one. When choosing your downlights or lightbulbs, ALWAYS opt for ones with high CRI light levels. High CRI is one of the most misunderstood measurements in the interior world.

Having previously worked for a lighting company, I was able to really get under the skin of lighting and understand what an average home owner should have in their home.

What is high CRI (colour rendering index)? This is basically a measurement of how well the light can reflect the truest representation and colour of objects within a room.

Ever heard yourself say, ‘let me see this in the light?’ – that’s all down to CRI, and it’s another reason you should always buy a tester pot of paint and trial it in your room, because light can make colours look completely different.

CRI is measured between 0-100, 100 being the highest level. The difference between poor and good CRI light levels is that the highest levels give you the truest clarity to see objects in their truest form, and carry out tasks with ease.

The market is still hugely dominated with poor CRI lighting, but there are options out there. Soho Lighting have an amazing range of high CRI downlights that are dimmable, tiltable and available in colour temperature changing specifications too.

best lighting for bathroom

Wall Lights – Layered Lighting

Having a flexible lighting plan in a bathroom is key and a great way to achieve this is with layered lighting. This basically means having a couple or a few different light sources.

A common way to achieve this is with overhead downlights and a pair of wall lights on either side of a mirror. Not only is this a far more flattering way to light a mirror (and your face), but they look incredible too.

Whether you have a modern, Art Deco or Farmhouse bathroom, there is a huge range of wall lights on the market that will cater to your style.

When picking wall lights for the bathroom, they should have a minimum IP rating of IP44 to protect them from splashes and moisture, however, if you can it’s always best to go higher to IP65 for full protection.

Shown featuring the stunning Art Deco Sheraton Pillar Wall lights in Polished Brass by Soho Lighting, a touch of glamour that creates a beautiful visual focal point in this bathroom.

Pendant Lights – A Decorative Edge

You don’t need downlights in a bathroom! Yes, you can also opt for a decorative pendant light for a finish that’s reflective of your design style.

There are fewer IP65 rated pendant lights on the market to choose from than wall lights, but there are still some flattering pendants out there.

They can be a good choice if you have a large bathroom space to fill. Typically pendant lights aren’t a common way to light bathrooms anymore as they can feel like they get in the way, and they attract moisture and dust more easily.

bathroom with pendant light

Ceiling Lights

If you’re choosing the lighting for a small, medium sized or large bathroom, ceiling lights can be one of the best, most streamlined options to go for.

They tend to omit a far better light source than a pendant light, and there is such an extensive range of IP65 rated ceiling lights for a bathroom.

Perhaps, they’re one of the most unobtrusive styles of bathroom lighting, yet they actually bring a decorative flair, unlike downlights.

In terms of budgets, you can pick ceiling lights up relatively inexpensively from places such as B&Q and Amazon, but you can also invest in higher quality lights at a pretty penny.

How exquisite is this Andrew Martin ceiling light? I love the Art Deco and glamorous shape and finish of the light.

What Is The Best Lighting For A Dark Bathroom?

When lighting a dark bathroom always ensure that the lightbulbs you choose are daylight light and that they have a high CRI, this will give you the closest to daylight light as possible in a bathroom. Use a mixture of light sources such as downlights, wall lights or ceiling lights (avoid pendant lights) to give ample levels of light.

Finally, install a dimmer switch with your lighting so you have ultimate flexibility over the lighting, you might require bright lighting in the morning, but you may want to switch things up in the evening with ambient levels of light when you’re soaking in the bath.

best lighting for bathroom

Do I Need IP44 or IP65 For A Bathroom?

The IP rating you need for your bathroom lighting depends on the location of the light and the level of moisture exposure in that area.

For general bathroom lighting, an IP44 rating is typically sufficient. This means the light is protected against water splashes from any direction, and is dust resistant. So, for wall lights by a sink an IP44 rating would be fine.

However, for lighting in shower or bath areas, an IP65 or higher rating is recommended, as these areas are exposed to more water. An IP65 rating means the light is protected against water jets from any direction, and is dust-tight.

Personally, I’d always tend to lean towards just opting for IP65 throughout the bathroom for full protection, and to ensure the longevity of the lights.

What Colour Temperature Should My Bathroom Lighting Be?

The ideal colour temperature for bathroom lighting is generally between 2700K and 3000K (colour temperature is measured in Kelvins), which is a warm white or soft white light. This colour temperature is comfortable and relaxing for the eyes and creates a warm and inviting atmosphere in the bathroom.

If you prefer a little bit of flexibility, opt for colour changing downlights so you’re able to switch confidently between different colour temperatures depending on the needs and role of the room at that time.

Best Lighting For Bathroom Cheat Sheet

  • Always ensure the lighting is suitably IP rated, IP44 is the minimum rating, but go for IP65 throughout if you can
  • Opt for a warm white or daylight light colour temperature of your bulbs, between 2700K and 3000K
  • Use a mixture of light sources for a layered lighting scheme such as wall lights and downlights
  • Avoid using downlights directly over a mirror as they will make your skin look tired
  • If you’re using downlights, opt for high CRI lights which have the function to change the colour temperature
  • Install a dimmer switch for ultimate control over your bathroom lighting

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Nicole Sage

Nicole Sage is the founder of Sleek-chic Interiors and is a highly experienced interiors writer and skilled home renovator who has a passion for all things design. She has been featured as an authority at Pinterest, Ideal Home, Daily Mail and in countless other interviews. For 8 years, Nicole has written, observed key interior trends, renovated and undertaken interior short courses at the renown KLC school where she has gained her grounding interior design principles. With a keen eye for detail and a love of creativity, she shares her expertise on the latest interior trends, practical DIY tutorials, and styling inspiration to help others transform their homes into stunning spaces. With a commitment to delivering informative and engaging content, Nicole inspires and empowers readers to explore their own unique sense of style and create beautiful, personalised interiors. Contact her at hello@sleek-chic.co.uk for interiors advice, colour questions and any commentary.

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