The modern bathroom is no longer just the place where you start and finish the day. It’s a place for recharging and relaxing - often the closest thing we have to a sanctuary from the outside world.

This is impacting on the minimalist design choices we’re seeing. The materials being used are likely to be glass, ceramic, stainless steel or natural wood or stone. Colour schemes are subtle, not muted, but help to create a feeling of calm and quiet. The appliances installed are high quality, well designed and even sculptural in appearance. Surfaces will be painted or tiled. Fixtures are tidy and used to complement the total scheme.

Overall, the effect is one of calm and consistency. However, the most carefully chosen palette and product range can be completely derailed by the wrong lighting. Lighting needs to be carefully examined to decide what will best illuminate your space. Your bathroom will combine natural and artificial lighting, and it is important to strike a balance between the two, while being realistic about your needs. 

Natural light will come from the windows. It’s likely that the windows will be frosted glass, or covered for privacy with venetian blinds or louvres. This will create diffused natural lighting, rather than strong lighting, and may mean that even in daytime, the natural light available is low.

Ambient lighting will be the major source of artificial light in your bathroom. This should be installed in the ceiling and the light should be soft and diffuse, never harsh. Ideally, the lights installed will be directional, so that you can point them to where they are most needed. When considering your ambient lighting, think about a unit that integrates lighting with a heat lamp and exhaust fan. This prevents your bathroom from looking too busy or fussy, as some more elaborate lighting styles, for example, bathroom chandeliers, can. 

Another area where practical considerations must rule is vanity lighting, or lighting around the mirror. Getting even, directional lighting can be achieved by mounting vertical fixtures or sconces at the sides of the bathroom mirror. 

If the mirror is particularly large or the shape of the mirror means that side lights can’t be mounted to it, an overhead light may be the only solution. If an overhead light is used, it should be as flat as possible and long horizontally to ensure that the light has an even spread across the mirror and the sink or vanity surface.

Accent lighting can be used to illuminate details such as beautiful, mosaic tilework or a sculptural basin. It’s by no means a necessity, but can be a great way to highlight particular aspects of your design and infuse your personality into the room. LED lighting is popular around and within cabinets, to make sure you can find things easily in lower light.

Installing dimmers in a bathroom is a great idea, both for energy efficiency and for the ability to control the mood of the room.

With some careful forethought and planning, and the odd candle, your lighting schemes can transform your bathroom.