Contemporary Bathroom Lighting

Explore your options for contemporary bathroom lighting, and get ready to create a sleek and modern bath space in your home.


Photo by: Jessica Klewicki

Jessica Klewicki

By: Sean McEvoy

If you're installing a new bathroom in a contemporary style or updating an existing bathroom to a more modern look, you'll want to explore all the options for up-to-date, contemporary bathroom lighting.

13 Dreamy Bathroom Lighting Ideas

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Follow Codes When Illuminating the Tub Area

Property Brothers Drew and Jonathon Scott gave this small bathroom a big dose of glamour with oh-so-chic touches like silver-foil wallpaper, an antique mirror and a gold-leafed clawfoot tub topped by a small crystal chandelier. While hanging lighting directly above a tub looks great, be sure to follow building codes for your area. Many specify that the base of the chandelier or any pendant-style light be a minimum of 8 feet above the tub with the idea that you shouldn't be able to touch any part of the fixture while standing in a tub filled with water.

Light the Vanity Area Evenly

For this cottage-style bathroom, designer Sarah Richardson chose a pair of glitzy mirrored sconces, instead of a standard bar-style vanity light, to flank the Venetian mirror. Not only do the sconces work beautifully in this feminine space, they're also a great choice for lighting the vanity area because they provide even cross lighting with minimal glare.

Make a Statement With Mod

Designer Tina Muller puts the finishing touch on this spacious, streamlined master bathroom with a show-stopping chandelier. 24 sleek chrome branches end in a low-voltage LED bulb to provide plenty of light while using less energy than standard incandescent or even CFL bulbs.

From: Drury Design

Light the Shower Safely

Lighting a shower area can be tricky — one rule to follow: only use fixtures that are rated for use in damp or wet locations. The three nautical clam-shell style lights along the back wall of this HGTV Dream Home shower are a good example. The bulbs and all electrical components are totally enclosed so moisture isn't an issue.

Go With the Flow

Matching a lighting fixture's style to the bathroom's overall look is always a safe bet. Here, HGTV fan dwanderson used an aluminum gooseneck barn light to illuminate her farmhouse-style bathroom. A budget-friendly find, the outdoor-rated fixture casts plenty of light while adding an unexpected touch that looks right at home.

Add Layers

The trick to properly lighting a bathroom while creating a luxurious feel, says designer Scott Arthur Yerkey, is to use multiple layers. Include makeup lighting along with wall sconces, place decorative ceiling lights over the tub area and light up any art displayed. In addition, add perimeter recessed lighting. For sparkle, he suggests crystal or glass.

Place It Right

San Francisco-based Warren Sheets of Warren Sheets Design, Inc. says LED lighting is the perfect solution for creating a soft and dreamy glow in the master bath, but they have to be positioned correctly. Called "ambient," this type of lighting works best when you want to light under a raised furniture-style vanity, along the sides of niches or shelves and as cove lighting on the ceiling. Photography by Michael Lipman.

Bring On the Glitz

Lonnie Unger, president of Susan Fredman Design Group, recommends adding a glamorous look to your bathroom by thinking of what's inside your jewelry box. "Add a touch of jewelry," she recommends, like this beaded pendant. The glitzy lighting is the perfect complement to this powder room's gold damask wallpaper. Design by Pal + Smith

Add a Magical Sparkle

In reference to a project her colleague Terri Crittenden designed, Lonnie suggests hanging a crystal pendant over the sink and mirror to sprinkle a soft glow throughout the space. Photo courtesy of Susan Fredman Design Group

Bring in Some Drama

For this powder room, designer Melissa Salamoff, principal of Salamoff Design Studio, created a dramatic, jewel-like effect by recessing the mirror into the wall and adding LED strips at both the top and bottom. Bouncing off the mirror, the light effectively illuminates the vanity area and resembles the type of lighting you'd see in a Hollywood dressing room.

Spa It Up

Who doesn't dream their master bath could feel like a world-class spa? The right lighting fixtures, controlled by dimmer switches, is one way to achieve the look, says designer Melissa Salamoff. For a futuristic glow above the tub, she recommends you skip the recessed can lights and instead drop a soffit over the tub and incorporate indirect lighting, such as LED strips, above it. Photo courtesy of Salamoff Design Studio

Shade the Light

Featuring a sculptural shape, frosted finish and laser-cut patterns, Kichler Lighting's Jardine Bath collection reveals the more subtle side to lampshades for the bathroom. Photo courtesy of Kichler

Tone It Down

When you're looking for a dreamy bathroom look, don't get carried away with the design scheme, says Sarah Barnard of Sarah Barnard Design in Santa Monica, Calif. A fan of Nesson lighting products, she chooses two simple wall sconces that look like candlesticks to light the vanity area. Along with a dimmer switch, the white glass diffuses the light in the room, while a color palette of blues and grays set the mood.

Lighting is a key element in bathrooms, which can often be dark and dreary places if light design isn't given enough consideration. Smaller bathrooms in particular have real challenges when it comes to lighting, as they often can't accommodate windows large enough to provide a tremendous amount of natural light. Focusing on lighting design early in the process will help you discover the contemporary lighting scheme that will be right for your bath space.

Contemporary bathroom lighting fixtures are available in a variety of styles, with a few that stand out for their wide availability and attractiveness. Sconces were once the exclusive territory of more traditional themes, but can now be found in blown glass or stainless steel designs that will complement a contemporary approach.

Track lighting is often a feature of contemporary design, and new materials and designs have increased its attractiveness—many contemporary styles house powerful halogen bulbs in stylish rounded or square containers. Finally, pendant lighting or even string lights can be a great complement to a contemporary bath space.

Spa-tacular Master Bath
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