This Comprehensive Bathroom Lighting Guide Is a Design Lover's Best Friend

In addition to the tub, toilet, and sink, picking out bathroom lighting seems obvious and straightforward. And yes, you can select fixtures that simply serve the practical purpose of illuminating your space, but what if you took that a step further and chose lighting that elevated your bath, with gorgeous design details and attention-grabbing finishes? The right pieces can complement the rest of your decor and could potentially make your bathroom the most stylish area in the house.

Here, we've laid out the different styles and types of lighting that you can consider, as well as a few other tidbits that you should ponder while you shop. For example, you'll need to consider the layout of your space. While some baths have wall space alongside the mirror for sconces, in a tight squeeze, you may need to entertain alternative options, like a sleek pendant light in a corner or a flush mount on the ceiling. Shea from Studio McGee went with a simple ceiling fixture in the white bathroom below that wouldn't distract from the real star of the show, the freestanding tub.

bathroom lighting idea with flush mount fixture and freestanding tub in front of bay windows
credit: Studio McGee

Next, you should contemplate your lighting needs and think through your daily routine. If you're a person who doesn't love bright lights in the morning, install a dimmer switch; just make sure the lighting you select is compatible with that dimmer. For applying makeup, you may want to use fixtures with warm white LED bulbs. In some cases, you may need to hire an electrician to install your bathroom lighting. This is especially the case if you've moved into an older home and are unsure about working with dated wiring, or if you're installing an authentic vintage fixture that could use some extra care.

Lastly, when you have a budget in mind, consider bathroom lighting ideas that won't break the bank. Shop online, keeping an eye out for sales, coupon codes, or plan your shopping spree to coincide with Black Friday. Don't spring for real-deal materials, like solid brass or crystal, when a standard, less expensive material will look just as stylish. And remember that simpler is always better when it comes to stying within a budget — skip over-the-top, artistic details in lieu of something minimal.

Now that we've given you plenty to think about, here are different styles and types of bathroom lighting, plus some of our favorite shopping destinations to peruse.

Our Favorite Bathroom Lighting Styles

bathroom lighting idea with wall sconces and black vanity cabinet
credit: Nune

For every design style or theme out there, we guarantee that there's a bathroom lighting idea that will match. When searching for fixtures to enhance your space, there are certain details you should look for. For example, in a modern bath, clean lines and unfussy details are signature characteristics, as proven by this black-and-white bathroom designed by Nune. Simple globe wall sconces illuminate the sink area without distracting from the high-contrast color palette.

When designing a midcentury modern bath, keep your eyes peeled for lighting silhouettes that are curvaceous, globe-shaped, and sleek. While bohemian bathroom lighting ideas are free and easy, showcasing natural materials like seashells, beads, and rattan. But if a claw-foot tub and penny mosaic floor tile is calling your name, you'll need some vintage lighting to match. Here, you'll want to incorporate milk glass, midcentury motifs, well-loved brass, or even a fixture discovered at a flea market.

Farmhouse bathroom lighting ideas are similar, also featuring brass finishes, industrial metals like iron, and even warm wood accents. Industrial bathroom lighting doesn't stray all that far from farmhouse. In a space marked by dark colors, worn woods, and raw materials, install cage lights or fixtures with exposed bulbs or wires. Or, for a truly contemporary, right-this-minute bathroom lighting idea, go toward fixtures with linear accents, polished finishes, and on-trend hues.

Types of Lighting to Consider

bathroom lighting idea with pendant light hanging over vanity cabinet
credit: Studio Black

You'll also have no shortage of bathroom lighting types to choose from. Standard fixtures that appear elsewhere in the home are also appropriate for a bath. Wall sconces can flawlessly frame a mirror (or two). And they also provide bonus illumination for makeup and self-care rituals.

Pendant lights are a relatively new option for modern baths, and we are so on board with them. You can hang one directly over your bathtub, or place one or two over your sink, like this gorg oasis designed by Studio Black.

A flush mount or a semi-flush mount on the ceiling in the bathroom is a smart pick if you're dealing with a small space or low ceilings. This way, you won't bang your head against the fixture as you get out of the tub (ouch!) and it won't compete with the rest of your decor. Plus, you can always mix a flush mount with other types of fixtures for additional illumination and visual interest.

Where to Shop for Bathroom Lighting

With all of this information in front of you, you might be wondering where to go next. That's where this list comes in handy. From modern wall sconces to pendants (like the one showcased in this rosy bath designed by Three Birds Renovations) to traditional ceiling lights, these are our favorite destinations for bathroom lighting ideas.

Circa offers a clever mix of surprising, contemporary styles (hello, wall sconces that look like little works of art) to traditional finishes (brass and chrome and iron, oh my!).

For a near-dizzying array of options that are priced right, head to AllModern, one of our fave online marketplaces. You're sure to find vanity lights, sconces, and flush mounts that will fit the theme of your bathroom.

Looking for a touch of throwback glamour for your space? Then look no further than Shades of Light, which specializes in chic, gleaming light fixtures that will transform your bathroom into a vintage dream.


Shelby Deering

Shelby Deering

Shelby Deering is a lifestyle writer who contributes to national magazines and websites, including Country Living, Good Housekeeping, Well+Good, and more. When she's not writing, you'll find her shopping flea markets, hiking, and going for walks with her corgi.