lighting plan for a bathroom

Creating a lighting plan for a bathroom

Above all, the light in the bathroom must be functional. Often there is a ceiling lamp that is (hopefully) splash proof, there may also be a wall spot, but that’s about it. This is a missed opportunity because, with a good lighting plan you can not only improve functionality, you can turn every bathroom into a personal spa! In this article, we give you tips for a good lighting plan for a bathroom.

Water and electricity

Just as water and fire do not go hand in hand, (obviously) water and electricity don’t go too well together either. And because the bathroom is a place with at least one, or several water sources, it is not really a good place to install some lamps.  So if you decide to install some, you need to plan this well in advance.

When designing a lighting plan for the bathroom you have to start by dividing the space into three zones:

  • Zone 1 covers a length of 2.25 m from the ground to the position of the bath or shower. In this zone, lamps must have a minimum IP rating of IP45.
  • Zone 2 runs from 2.25 measured to the ceiling, and within 60 cm from the bath or shower. Lamps in this zone must have a minimum IP 44.
  • Zone 3 is the part from 60 cm away from the bath or shower.

The IP value indicates how well a lamp is resistant to (splash) water, the higher the better. Luminaires made specifically for damp indoor areas will have a clear indication on the packaging. Rather too high than too low, that may be clear.

lighting plan for a bathroom

How much light do I need for the bathroom?

According to the NEN standard, there must be a minimum light intensity of 200 lux on average in a bathroom or toilet. This falls into the category ‘atmospheric’. If you are striving for a combination of tranquility and functionality, you can install a LED-lamp with a dimmer. In this way, you can vary the light without installing extra lamps.

Colour temperature

Warm light is preferred, think of 2700 Kelvin. Because this is too warm for shaving or applying make-up, you could install a spotlight at the mirror, with a neutral colour temperature of 4000 Kelvin. Again, LED lamps are available with both warm and cool light.


Ceiling lighting will usually be present as the primary light source. Choose a lamp or luminaire with frosted glass or another translucent material to diffuse the light. This will reduce the number of shadows. You can also hang extra lighting near mirrors, preferably slightly above eye level and also a little diffuse. You don’t want to dazzle yourself, but you also don’t want disturbing shadows. If there are several household members with a strongly deviating length, you can consider tilting spotlights, or installing a lamp on an adjustable fixture for optimal flexibility.

Indirect light

By pointing a lamp towards a wall or ceiling it becomes more diffuse thanks to the light reflection. A light-coloured wall reflects most of the light. You can also use small spotlights as atmospheric lighting. By working with primary, secondary, and tertiary light in the lighting plan for the bathroom, you can create a functional space that is still very atmospheric. With dimmers or switchable lamps, you can determine the desired atmosphere for each situation. Relaxed in the bath or shaving your face, it’s all possible.

What kind of lamps to use?

lighting plan for a bathroom

Both incandescent lamps and halogen spotlights consume a lot of energy and generate a large amount of heat. Therefore choose modern LED lighting, preferably dimmable. By linking the lighting with a smart home system it is possible to put together preselected programs for every conceivable situation. You can even consider voice control, which is very handy with wet hands. For example, you can switch directly from relax mode to shaving or make-up mode.

Take a look at the whole

Also, pay attention to the use of colour in the bathroom itself. Light colours make the room look bigger optically, and the colour of the tiles will influence the colour temperature in the bathroom. Bright spotlights reflect in shiny tiles, this can be dazzling. A spotlight facing a mirror is not a good idea either. Therefore consider the lighting plan as part of the complete furnishing.

Do you have any questions about this article? Feel free to contact us!


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