Lighting in the bathroom: 10 ideas for bathroom planners


The right lighting is an important factor when it comes to cosiness at home. This also applies to the lifestyle bathroom. But especially in a room that’s supposed to be both cosy and brightly lit when needed, professional lighting design that takes various functions into account is essential.

At the latest since the introduction of LED technology, virtually any lighting application or scenography is now possible in the bathroom. Thanks to modern control technologies and popular smart living systems, lighting zones and lighting scenarios are easy to install and use. Because for the modern feel-good bathroom, a light on the ceiling and another one over the mirror have not been enough for a long time.

1. General lighting: less is not more

Functional basic lighting should always be guaranteed in the bathroom.

Independently of all the possibilities available for creating lighting scenographies, general or ambient lighting is essential as the starting point for professional bathroom planning. The general lighting often corresponds to the architectural zoning of the bathroom. The washbasin, shower zone and movement areas play a particularly important role. It’s vital to ensure functional general lighting independently of any additional light sources such as an illuminated mirror cabinet over the washbasin. The less is more maxim should be applied to the lighting design too! Dimmers can be used to reduce the brightness to suit individual needs. Especially when the bathroom is used by older people, a high light output should be a given.

2. Light sources in bathroom furniture: subtle but effective

Whether in the bathtub, mirror or - as here - in the furniture: with various direct and indirect light sources, Finion from Villeroy & Boch creates an all-round cosy atmosphere in the bathroom.

Light sources integrated into bathroom furniture perform several functions: they emit functional light, for instance when integrated on the underside of mirror cabinets to illuminate the washbasin, they create indirect mood or ambient lighting, and they can illuminate storage space. They can also emphasise architectural qualities and emphasise or downplay the volume of the sanitaryware and furniture. Concealed strip lights make the furniture look lighter – in combination with a wall-mounted vanity unit, for instance, they make the furniture seem to float in mid-air. Indirect lighting for shelving and display surfaces opens up additional levels for the interior design. Open storage space and display cabinets break up the overall effect of the design and prevent it from looking too monolithic. And because accentuating decorative items plays an important role in the interior design as well, integrated light sources are becoming increasingly sought after. Bathroom furniture manufacturers have recognised that the effective use of lighting opens up new design possibilities and are responding with a growing number of products that give customers the option of integrated lighting systems.

3. Night-time scenarios: lighting the way

The Gira Sensotec automatically switches on dimmed and thus glare-free when you approach it. At close range - a distance of around five centimetres - the light can be switched to full brightness with a simple movement.

A specially modified lighting scenario for the night is particularly pleasant for nocturnal trips to the toilet. But indirect lighting from sources installed in the wall and close to the floor doesn’t just light the way to the toilet, it paints the bathroom in a new and different light as well. Plus, the shower toilet lights up when the user approaches and the lid opens automatically. And on top of everything else, keeping visual stimuli to a minimum and reducing the amount of actions required to use something makes it easier to fall asleep again, and appropriate night-time scenarios can help you wind down after a busy day. In combination with a motion sensor or timer, automatic night-time lighting is a routine with added value.

4. Task lighting: seeing the washbasin area in the right light

With mirror cabinet lighting and illuminated washbasin consoles, Vitrium from Duravit provides sufficient light at the most important workstation in the bathroom.

The role the washbasin area plays in the bathroom is comparable to that of the worktop in the kitchen. If the planner opts for one of the round wall mirrors that are on trend right now rather than a mirror cabinet, it’s important to provide additional light sources to supplement the indirect lighting that’s often integrated into such products so as to illuminate the face and basin sufficiently. A mirror cabinet usually performs an important function in the lighting design: besides illuminating the face, it can also provide additional ambient lighting, e.g. via an uplight, and some illuminated mirror cabinets are even available with colour-variable lighting. Integrated mirror heating is a useful gadget that ensures a clear view no matter how humid the air, and an additional illuminated make-up mirror is a practical tool for the daily beauty routine.

5. Emotional lighting

FA Porsche von Durasvit

Particularly with indirect light or with niche lighting, special moods can be created.

Using different colour temperatures is probably the easiest way to change the emotional feel of a bathroom. Mirror cabinets and ceiling lights can change the colour of the light they emit to create the desired mood at the push of a button. Coloured light also changes the overall impression and atmosphere of a bathroom. Programmable scenarios can be used to simplify usage. Ideally, the use of emotional lighting should be factored into the planning so that it can underscore the idea behind the design.

6. Illuminated displays: accentuate important functions

The illuminated mirror from Geberit uses a light circle on the mirror surface to indicate its control panel.

Many products for the bathroom are increasingly available in electric versions with a practical illuminated display for accessing the functions. It could be a dual flush plate for the toilet, a keypad for filling the bathtub or a mixer. As a result, important functions can be accentuated independently of the general lighting or natural lighting – and that’s an advantage for certain lighting scenarios, including at night-time. Planners should be aware that the need for electrical outlets will continue to grow, so it’s essential to factor in a power supply for the washbasin area, the toilet, the shower and the bathtub area or to make provision for a retrofit at some time in the future.

7. The future of the mirror cabinet is smart

The rl40 LED mirror cabinet from Burgbad with integrated light control can be operated either via the light (shown here) or by voice control (as rl40 VC).

Innovative LED mirrors and mirror cabinets can be programmed to create different lighting moods to suit the user’s frame of mind or the time of day, activated via a convenient sensor interface. This allows the light to be adapted to personal preferences, the mood and the situation intuitively whenever required.

The mirrors and mirror cabinets often combine indirect ceiling light, optional washbasin lighting and glare-free LED side panels and are designed to create individually adaptable lighting moods – even including circadian lighting. Modern mirrors have different control options: equipped with an intuitive touch interface, which is integrated into the illuminated panel on the side, for example, the light can be regulated with the swipe of a finger. In addition, a Voice Control system can be integrated into smart home systems thanks to a preinstalled Zigbee bridge. As a result, the mirror can be controlled and enhanced via a smartphone/app, voice assistants like Siri, Alexa etc. or Zigbee-compatible switches.

8. The lamp as object: for a bathroom with a cosy feel

Like fireflies, the bubbles of the light chain by IP44 float in the dark above the outdoor pool and provide cosy lighting.

As bathroom design becomes increasingly sophisticated, the lighting is becoming an essential component for enhancing the cosy feel. A tabletop chandelier, a floor lamp or a lamp as an “objet” – furniture and lights traditionally used in the living area are increasingly being used to pimp up the bathroom and turn it into a favourite space. But also in the outdoor area, pool & co. can be staged with light.

9. Update: battery-powered lights are ideal for an upgrade

As a simple solution, battery lights can be used to generate light anywhere in the bathroom, ideally with energy-saving LED technology.

When planning a new bathroom, a professional lighting design should be part of the concept and specifications right from the start. But when it comes to a partial refurbishment, the lighting design can still be quite a challenge. The simplest solution is to fall back on battery-powered lights. Ideally with energy-saving LED technology. Indirect LED lights are already widespread elsewhere in the home, e.g. the kitchen. Decorative battery-powered designer lamps, which can be added at any time and don’t rely on a power outlet, make sensible additions to the lighting concept of existing bathrooms.

10. Visionary: illuminated back panels in the shower

With the design motifs from Glassdouche, the bathroom can be transformed into a dream world. The integrated LEDs with a service life of around 50,000 hours ensure homogeneous backlighting.

The development and application of LED technology continues to advance at a rapid pace. An LED panel as an illuminated rear wall for the shower, for instance, is no longer an unaffordable dream: with some shower enclosures it’s available as a standard feature. The design motif on the panel can be chosen to complement the interior design and the light it emits intensifies the desired ambience. The first LED walls with video function are now available too and open up a new dimension in bathroom lighting design.


Note: Electrical products must be installed by a qualified electrician in compliance with the valid regulations and IP zone requirements.