Decor 10 June 2024

How to light the bathroom: tips and inspiration for perfect lighting

Lighting plays a key role in interior design. It helps create a welcoming, functional atmosphere. But it’s not just about making a space practical, it’s also about how comfortable and aesthetically pleasing it is.

Come illuminare il bagno:
idee e consigli per un'illuminazione perfetta

Proper lighting can transform a bathroom into an inviting, relaxing place and create a great atmosphere for all who use it. Also, carefully designed lighting not only enhances the decorative and functional features of a bathroom, it also helps define its personality and transforms it into a space that reflects the style and tastes of its users.

Join us as we explore the importance of proper bathroom lighting and offer you tips, ideas and inspiration for you to create your own bright space that meets your needs. And maybe shed “light” on a few of your doubts along the way. There’s so much to take into consideration. But don’t worry, choosing the lighting for your bathroom can be a complex process, but it’s also a fun, exciting journey. Enjoy it!

Principles of lighting for the bathroom

Lighting is often the last detail we think about when designing a bathroom, but that often means spending too little time on it. Yet, lighting is a fundamental feature of a space and can sometimes be a crucial aspect of the architecture in, say, a small or windowless bathroom. That’s why it’s important to map out a lighting plan, so you can create a bright, airy, welcoming room and embrace the limitations of the space.

The challenge in a large, spacious bathroom, on the other hand, is designing a system that distributes light uniformly to every corner, without creating annoying variations. That said, in both cases, lighting plays a key role in defining both the appearance and the experience of the bathroom.

lampade a sospensione per illuminazione bagno

Lighting designers know that it is very important to keep one key concept in mind: layering. This technique involves placing different light sources around the space strategically to create a lovely, well-lit environment.

Light layering takes account of: the ambient lighting, which concerns the overall lighting; functional lighting, which focuses on specific areas; and accent lighting, which is used to draw attention to specific decorative or architectural features of the bathroom. These three levels combined allow you to create a luminous, versatile and functional atmosphere in the bathroom. Let’s see how.

General lighting

This kind of lighting provides the room with diffuse, uniform lighting that reaches all parts of the space. For a modern bathroom, general or ambient lighting can be achieved using LED ceiling lamps or pendant lamps, which are solutions that distribute light uniformly.

Functional lighting

This type of lighting involves placing localised light sources that are functional to specific parts of a space. One example might be around the washbasin area, where the light needs to be uniform without casting shadows, essential for activities like applying and removing make-up, shaving and hairstyling. Here you can install lamps above or either side of the mirror, or use other solutions like mirrors with incorporated lights.

Decorative lighting

This level of lighting includes solutions chosen to enrich the aesthetic performance of the room, with accent lights to complete the atmosphere. These dramatic lights can improve the everyday experience of the bathroom, by creating a more pleasant, relaxing environment.

lampada decorativa in appoggio su mobile bagno

Tip for simple-to-achieve, decorative lighting: consider using the warm, natural light of candles which creates a cosy intimacy that is hard to replicate with “artificial” light. 

Although there are LED devices on the market that simulate the effect of traditional candles with added safety, there’s nothing quite like the light produced by natural candles. Imagine them arranged around the bathtub, the perfect details for creating a relaxing spa-like atmosphere. And for an even more powerful effect, choose scented candles to imbue the air with wonderful fragrances that enhance the feeling of wellbeing.

5 ways to light a bathroom

Whether its ceiling lighting, creating uniform light throughout the room, or wall-mounted accent lighting, which creates focal points and draws attention to decorative features. Or even lights placed strategically around the bathroom mirror or incorporated into the mirror itself. Or the idea of lighting accessories and furnishings like bathroom shelves and furniture, or architectural details.

There are many ways to illuminate your bathroom, so here are some of our tips for designing your lighting.

Bathroom ceiling lighting

When it comes to ceiling lighting for the bathroom, the first thing that comes to mind is a ceiling lamp. Until recently, this great classic could be found in every bathroom, and was often considered the only form of lighting suitable for this space, along with mirror lights.

But don’t worry, if you’re looking for a modern solution for lighting your bathroom, there’s more on offer than LED ceiling lamps. There are now some quite original forms of ceiling lighting available on the market, like pendant lamps.

lampada moderna a sospensione per il bagno

Pendant lamps in a bathroom? Yes, you read right. There are many models differing in shape and size that can be used alone or in clusters of two or three to deliver more light.

If you need inspiration, why not start with the style that comes with an Arcom lamp like Roller. Minimal, stylised tubular pendant lamps, perfect for creating zonal lighting.

lampada a sospensione tubolare per il bagno

Our Rossini model is another line of pendant lamps we can suggest for your bathroom, made of glass and again perfect for modern, minimalist settings. Their spherical shape illuminates the room with their simplicity. Although small in size, they make an impact that doesn’t go unnoticed. One very interesting solution is to install them in clusters at different heights for an elegant dynamic effect.

lampade a sospensione per il bagno di forma sferica

Linear pendant lamps, on the other hand, are particularly suitable for lighting long surfaces in the bathroom, such as the washbasin area. Their elongated form helps deliver light uniformly along the surface.

lampada a sospensione per bagno moderno di forma lineare

Or you could choose something more creative like our Saturno lamps, whose shape is a nod to the homonymous planet. This is a fun, unconventional pendant lamp for the bathroom, whose shade can be personalised with a graphic design of your choosing. It would also look great in a Scandinavian style bathroom.

Lampadario per bagno con plafoniera

At one time, the mission of ceiling lamps was to conceal the lightbulb so they wouldn’t be seen hanging from ceiling. Today, the rules are completely different: lightbulbs are now left visible and have themselves become a decorative design feature as pendant lights that can be suspended over strategic areas of the bathroom.

illuminazione per bagno stile minimale con lampadina a vista

And how about a spiral-shaped pendant lamp? Its elegant contours expand and narrow dynamically. And if you choose one in rice paper, the light will be soft and diffused, perfect for creating a warm atmosphere and, thanks to its length, an interesting focal point for a large bathroom.

lampada di design per bagno moderno in carta di riso e forma a spirale

In addition to pendant lamps, there are numerous other types of luminaires that are great for modern settings, but which can also add a fresh touch to a classic bathroom or a shabby chic bathroom. As in this example.

Lampadari bagni moderni

Another effective and versatile option for bathroom ceiling lighting is spotlights, which can be adjusted to whatever direction you want, providing flexibility for specific lighting needs.

Depending on their mechanism, they can be tilted or rotated to eliminate undesired shadows and focus the light exactly where you need it the most, ensuring your bathroom is well-lit and functional. Spotlights are also the perfect choice for a modern bathroom.

faretti a soffitto per il bagno direzionabili

Another solution for the bathroom are built-in or recessed lamps, which deliver discreet, adjustable lighting. This solution is also perfect for a modern, minimalist bathroom, where nothing should clutter or weigh down the space.

illuminazione bagno con lampade incassate nel soffitto

Wall-mounted lighting for the bathroom

An alternative to ceiling lighting is wall-mounted lamps. This is a great solution for bathrooms, as it allows you to bring light to even the most challenging areas, while taking up little space, which is especially useful in small bathrooms.

Flush wall fittings are the most common type of wall lamp. They illuminate your bathroom with their functionality and their design and serve as a decorative element for the walls.

lampade a parete di design per bagno moderno

Here, a minimal wall lamp sits perfectly next to the backlit mirror, spreading a cone of light that accompanies the shape of the lamp.

applique di design per illuminazione bagno abbinate allo specchio tondo

Bathroom mirror lights

Every bathroom has to have a light source for the mirror. And again there are numerous ways to light a bathroom mirror.

LED spotlights and lamps above the mirror are the most popular solution. Of course, these are not enough to illuminate the entire room, which is why it is best to combine them with other sources of light, like luminaires or ceiling lamps. The key thing is to make sure that all fixtures emit the same kind of light: it’s not a good idea to mix them.

illuminazione specchio bagno con faretto

However, if you’re looking for something other than the usual spotlights, there are numerous other ways to light your bathroom mirror. For a soft, elegant atmosphere, you could choose LED backlighting, surrounding the mirror with a delicate halo of light.

specchio bagno tondo retroilluminato

Just be aware that bathroom mirror backlighting is not the best lighting for applying make-up. As most women know, the best solution is a make-up mirror with LED light. Even better if the mirror is adjustable. This example shows how a functional solution can also have a modern, elegant design.

specchiere bagno con luce

If you’re looking to impress with hi-tech, why not choose an original, futuristic mirror with LED touch-activated profile. A mirror with touch-sensor technology is perfect for a modern bathroom. It delivers immediate, intuitive control for switching on and off the light, which is great for energy saving. These mirrors often include advanced options to adjust the intensity and the temperature from a warm, relaxing light, to a cold, bright tone, as needed.

illuminare specchio bagno

If you’re looking for the wow factor, why not choose a mirror with double lighting, like the Spy mirror, which has a square or rectangular backlit frame and a round or oval insert surrounded by a luminous profile.

specchio bagno con illuminazione integrata  quadrato
specchiera bagno con illuminazione integrata forma rettangolare

Lighting for bathroom accessories and furnishings

Whether used simply as surfaces to hold towels or fitted with storage containers, shelves are practical, functional accessories in bathrooms. By adding light, you not only draw attention to them, but also make them more functional in certain areas of the bathroom, like next to a washbasin or the bathtub.

mensole bagno illuminate

An LED strip can be extremely useful, say, under a wall unit and can provide direct, targeted lighting to improve visibility under cupboards and cabinets.

illuminazione led arredo bagno
illuminazione bagno sotto  pensile

Lighting for bathroom alcoves

Alcoves are a design feature that are frequently found in the architecture of modern bathrooms. They are a practical, space-saving device, that can be used in a myriad of ways (see our dedicated blog article, if you’re looking for inspiration on decorating bathroom alcoves).

LED strips, bars or panels are excellent alternatives to recessed spotlights inside alcoves. These solutions add style, improve functionality and increase the perception of depth in the room. Lighting systems like these can transform an apparently empty space by drawing attention to more functional, luminous details.

And every bathroom alcove needs the right light. For example, lighting for the niche inside the shower area should not only favour the aesthetic and functionality of the space, but should also be suitable for wet areas, as it will come into contact with water.

nicchia doccia illuminata

Choosing lightbulbs for the bathroom

There are several factors to consider when choosing lightbulbs for the best comfort and functionality from bathroom lighting. The most common options on the market include LED, halogen and compact fluorescent lamps.

LED lamps provide energy efficiency and durability. The light they emit is uniform and particularly bright. They are available in models delivering warm light, cold light and also coloured light. Energy saving is already a good reason to choose them.

Halogen lamps are a more advanced solution than traditional incandescent light bulbs. They contain a tungsten filament within a glass envelope filled with halogen gases. They deliver a superior colour rendering than LED lamps, with brighter, more natural colours, but they are less efficient and less sustainable.

Finally, compact fluorescent lamps, commonly knows as CFLs, are appreciated for their energy-saving characteristics. Their colour rendering and colour temperature can vary, but they generally produce a white or a warm white light.

Why colour rendering and colour temperature are important

The important factors to consider when choosing lightbulbs are the colour rendering index (CRI) and the colour temperature of the light they emit.

CRI measures a light source’s ability to reproduce colour faithfully, whereas colour temperature describes how the light affects its surroundings. Lightbulbs with a high CRI deliver colours that are natural, an important aspect when applying make-up, for example.

The temperature of light is measured in Kelvins (K) and is an indicator of the colour and tone of the light emitted by a light source. Lower temperatures, around 2700K-3000K, produce a warm, cosy light that is ideal for creating inviting and relaxing atmospheres, so suitable for bedrooms, living rooms, but also bathrooms where relaxation is a requirement.

Higher temperatures, on the other hand, around 4000K-5000K, produce a cold, bright light that is suitable for areas like the kitchen, an office or a bathroom where more visibility is needed for activities like shaving or applying make-up.

Anyway, there are no hard and fast rules, only useful advice: the light temperature you choose mainly depends on the purpose of the lighting and the atmosphere you are trying to create in a given space.

lampada a sospensione bagno

For those seeking the beneficial effects of lighting, we would also suggest chromotherapy, which exploits the therapeutic properties of colours to improve physical and mental well-being. This is a matter of choosing lightbulbs and lamps offering a variety of adjustable colours. One final, purely technical consideration when choosing the lighting for your bathroom, is installing a dimmer switch so you can adjust the intensity to your liking.


After our roundup of information and inspiration, it’s clear that bathroom lighting is about functionality on one hand, while on the other it’s an important way to define the atmosphere and style of this precious corner of the home. Proper lighting has the power to transform your bathroom into a relaxing, inviting space that is functional and enjoyable to use every day. We have seen the important factors to consider when it comes to bathroom lighting, from the various types of light sources, to the placement and arrangement of lamps, as well as the choice of colour temperature and colour rendering.

One final tip: to avoid mistakes and eliminate any doubts, you can always seek the advice of a lighting designer or engineer, who can guide you in your decisions and help you transform all your lighting desires into a bright reality. In the meantime, why not go to our website and discover our design lamps for bathrooms, our lighted bathroom mirrors and several models of bathroom spotlights.

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