If there’s one room in the home where the options for stylish light fittings have always been distinctly lacking, it’s the bathroom. Creativity has long been stunted by rigorous safety requirements and, until recently, you had to dig very deep to find any light fittings that were even moderately interesting. Thankfully, times are changing, and fast with new bathroom lighting trends emerging.
In response to style-savvy renovators demanding more choice, there are already so many more design options available across all budgets, making it much easier to be adventurous and fashion-forward with bathroom lighting ideas. ‘Bathroom lighting has transcended its practical role, emerging as a significant consideration when planning a new bathroom,’ enthuses Jorge Hernandez, Product and Design Manager at Crosswater.
‘This next year will see more innovative designs ranging from eye-catching light fixtures to customisable mood lighting, which will transform bathrooms and elevate our overall experience in these spaces,’ adds Jorge.
Bathroom lighting trends
When considering the latest bathroom lighting trends, it’s not just about what style light fittings you buy. Where you put them and how the light levels enhance the ambiance also has a huge impact, as our design experts reveal.
1. The new illuminated mirrors
Mirrors with lighting around the full perimeter are one of the best ways to achieve a flattering and accurate reflection as they light the face from every angle. The latest illuminated mirrors score high on style thanks to new curvy asymmetric shapes that feel fresh and different.
‘Traditional square and rectangular-shaped mirrors are being replaced in favour of more abstract, rounded shapes that offer extra design appeal and a more modern look for your bathroom,’ says Jorge Hernandez, Product and Design Manager, Crosswater. ‘Seek out illuminated mirrors with innovative technologies, such as colour-changing controls and built-in heated demisters, that ensure they’re convenient for modern-day use.’
Award-winning product designer Jorge Hernandez has dedicated his career to the bathroom industry, designing trend-swaying products for the likes of Roper Rhodes and Saneux. Now head of design at Bathroom Brands Group, Jorge’s ambition is to continue to grow the Crosswater, Burlington, Britton and Clearwater brands through inspirational, cohesive design, rich narratives and playful innovation.
2. Wall lights throughout
Fitting wall lights above the basin is nothing new but wall lights are now being embraced around the room, bringing more decorative opportunities and eye-level illumination in their wake. ‘Wall lights offer a versatile and aesthetically pleasing lighting solution, creating a balanced ambiance whilst also providing better lighting solutions for certain self-care tasks,’ says Ruth Foster, Interior Designer, Victoria Plum.
‘Placing them strategically throughout the space, not just above the vanity, but in other task areas such as near the shower space or bath ensures an even distribution of light, enhancing functionality and accentuating the design elements of the bathroom for a practical and inviting space.’
Ruth Foster is Victoria Plum’s resident Interior Designer. She is passionate about home-related trends and loves light, airy interiors shaped by organic forms and colours. With a background in textiles for interiors, she has recently received her Master’s Degree in Interior Design.
3. Statement chandeliers
Installing a chandelier in the bathroom is a growing bathroom trend that can elevate the space and give a luxe hotel-esque feel. ‘Choose a chandelier specifically designed for bathroom environments, ensuring it has the necessary IP rating for moisture resistance,’ Julian Page, Head of Design, BHS.
‘A strategic placement could be above a freestanding bathtub, creating a luxurious focal point. Alternatively, consider positioning it over a vanity area to combine glamour with practical task lighting, adding both style and functionality to your bathroom retreat.’
4. Practical nightlights
Not all trends are purely decorative. Avoid bumps in the night by including a nightlight on your bathroom lighting plan. This practical lighting idea has been borrowed from swish hotel bathrooms and is fast gaining traction in family homes.
‘Nightlights are installed on a separate circuit to the main lights and perfect for those middle-of-the-night trips to the bathroom as their soft glow means they don't wake you or anyone else in the house with a bright light,’ says Jo Sangster, Senior Designer, Ripples London.
For a family bathroom idea, Jo recommends installing a PIR (passive infrared) sensor that activates the nightlight automatically as you enter the bathroom and means you don’t need to leave the nightlight on all night. ‘As children get older, having nightlights on sensors means they can then go into the bathroom in the dark on their own and lights will automatically come on. It's also useful for those who are elderly or have mobility issues as they help guide the way to the bathroom, minimising the risk of any trips or falls,’ she explains.
5. Pendant moves
‘Statement pendant light fittings in a bathroom are becoming more popular, as the bathroom continues to evolve into a retreat for rest and relaxation, with spa-like appeal,’ says Julie Lockwood, Product Manager, Bathrooms to Love. We’re not talking about the boring old lone pendant stuck in the centre of the ceiling. This trend sees pendant lights pushed back to the walls, where they serve the role of wall lights but with a little more wow.
The benefits over regular wall lights are two-fold. Firstly, the height of a pendant is easier to adjust, allowing you to pitch the illumination exactly where needed, and adjust it again if it’s not quite right! And, secondly, there’s no need to chase cables down the walls to fit a pendant, saving money on installation – or giving you more to spend on fancy fittings!
6. Hidden away
Decorative lighting doesn’t need to be seen to seriously show off. Concealed lighting, aka shadow lighting, is a clever contemporary home decor trend that is being used to showcase architectural details and textural materials.
‘This lighting approach makes the room feel more sophisticated by focusing on the light effect rather than the fittings,’ explains Shehryar Kahn, director, Sheraton Interiors. ‘We like to use it to illuminate storage niches, improving visibility of soaps and toiletries and contributing to a relaxing atmosphere in the bathroom.’
A popular way to get the look is via LED strip lighting, which comes with high-bond adhesive backing tape, making them easy to position discreetly, and are available in IP65-rated versions for safe bathroom use.
7. Industrial vibes
With its classic mid-century styling and rugged charm, the industrial aesthetic remains a strong look in the bathroom lighting sector. ‘Industrial style lighting is popular for several reasons including its timeless appeal that works across various interior styles. Often featuring Edison bulbs, raw metal finishes and simple shapes, industrial style bathroom lighting helps to provide contrast to other elements such as sanitaryware that tend to be smooth and polished,’ says Grazziella Wilson, Head of Creative at Ca' Pietra.
This vintage style of lighting, with its factory-salvaged vibes, is a popular look for outdoor lighting collections, which will also have the Ingress Protection rating required for bathroom use, making them a good choice. Grazziella says industrial designs with dark metal finishes are especially fashion-forward and a great way to bring extra drama into your bathroom. ‘On-trend at the moment is darker, moodier metals such as oil-rubbed bronze or black, which fits perfectly with an industrial-style light fitting, so if you can, select one of these finishes,’ she adds.
8. Living room looks
Classic lamp shades typically found in bedrooms or living rooms are bringing a more relaxed air to the bathroom, helping to soften the hard lines and materials used in our sanitary spaces.
‘Lighting companies are now selling their most popular wall light fittings with lamp shades in bathroom-friendly versions. This allows for more creativity and the chance to add colour, softness and interest,’ says an early adopter of this trend, Alex Keith, director, Otta Design. ‘As a space to relax and unwind after a busy day, this style of lighting can really help set the mood.’
Otta Design is a dynamic interior design studio founded by Ali Johnson and Alex Keith in 2014. Known for designing layered schemes which mix colour and pattern, old and new, they offer a full tailored design service for residential clients in London and the Home Counties.
9. Cluster lighting
The DIY cluster bulb trend is a funky way to get cool, retro lighting for less. You’ve probably seen it in your favourite influencer’s kitchen, or perhaps your local artisan coffee house, but this hot lighting trend is now moving into the bathroom, and you don’t need to splash out to get onboard.
Go for clusters of three, five or even seven exposed bulbs (odd numbers work best) and match the finish of your ceiling rose and bulb holders to your brassware for extra style points.
‘Handcrafted cluster lighting can be an attractive addition to any bathroom and, with the right fixtures and fittings, you can create your own bespoke cluster bulb lighting that’s unique to your space,’ says Mara Rypacek Miller, Managing Director, Industville.
‘Remember to choose fittings that are appropriate for wet environments and ensure professional installation to conform to safety standards. Additionally, consider using energy-efficient LED bulbs for their longer lifespan and eco-friendly benefits.’
10. Move off-centre
Throw uninspiring symmetrical light installs out with the bath water. Flanking the mirror is old news; the modern way to illuminate above your vanity unit is deliberately off-set. ‘Breaking away from symmetrical positioning can result in an edgier lighting install that feels more considered and interesting,’ says interior designer, Louise Robinson.
Do make sure an off-set lighting position looks deliberate, rather than a tape measure fail, and ensure the bulbs are sufficiently bright to provide adequate task lighting when brushing your teeth. Moving a central ceiling light to a corner position can also work well, especially if there’s a nice stool or plant beneath to put in the spotlight.
What is the most flattering lighting for a bathroom?
‘Wall-mounted lights placed next to or above a mirror are flattering for any bathroom and will ensure even distribution of illumination – an essential if you use the bathroom mirror for makeup application or grooming,’ says Jorge Hernandez, Product and Design Manager, Crosswater.
Selecting the correct type of bulb is vital. ‘A bulb that emits a soft and warm white light will be the most flattering for any bathroom. Opt for a colour temperature between 3,000K and 2,700K to achieve a similar look to that of natural light. Additionally, consider installing dimmer switches where possible to allow you to control and customize the light intensity,’ adds Jorge.
Is warm white or cool white better for a bathroom?
For the main ambient lighting (the overhead lighting that illuminates the whole room), you should aim for a warm white light of around 3,000K, which will be easy on the eyes and welcoming. Cool white light can give off a blue-ish hue that’s stark and sterile, and not at all appealing first thing in the morning or last thing at night.
One area you might want to dial up the brightness is around your vanity mirror, especially if you use it for plucking and shaving. Here, you can go for a higher wattage bulb and increase the kelvin rating to match daylight levels, which is nearer to 5,000K. If you plan to do your make-up at your bathroom mirror, also study the CRI – colour rendering index – which rates how accurately we see colours under the light emitted. Aim for a CRI of 80-95.
Lighting is so important in any bathroom, both practically and decoratively. Make it a priority and, whatever lighting you decide upon, do check your fittings have the correct IP ratings (Ingress Protection) according to their proximity to water. Otherwise, your renovation won’t meet Building Regulation standards, which can cause major issues should you sell, and, more importantly, your family’s safety could be at risk.
Get the Ideal Home Newsletter
Sign up to our newsletter for style and decor inspiration, house makeovers, project advice and more.
Linda Clayton is a professionally trained journalist, and has specialised in product design, interiors and fitness for more than two decades. Linda has written for a wide range of publications, from the Daily Telegraph and Guardian to Homes & Gardens and Livingetc. She has been freelancing for Ideal Home Magazine since 2008, covering design trends, home makeovers, product reviews and much more.
The interior of this country house is as beautiful as its stunning surroundings
This country house has been given a sympathetic makeover, creating a relaxing, welcoming home in beautiful surroundings
By Karen Darlow
9 reasons your seeds aren't germinating, according to gardening experts
If you're seedlings aren't growing as you hoped it could be down to one of these mistakes
By Jayne Dowle
Cottagecore decor ideas for living rooms – 10 ways to embrace this charming trend
Our cottagecore ideas for living rooms will inspire you to fill your space full of quaint and quirky pieces
By Sophie Warren-Smith