Bathroom Lighting: 10 Ways to get it right

As part of my ongoing collaboration with Original BTC and Davey Lighting, today I am writing about bathroom lighting. Gone are the days when a few spotlights in a grid on the ceiling would suffice. Now the bathroom has to be both functional and spa-like. According to a recent survey, nine per cent of us have worked in theirs during lockdown and, as, possibly, the only room in the house with a lock then if Mummy wants to shut herself in and have a small cry can the lighting at least be flattering while she does so? And then bright enough to repair the damage afterwards.

Davey Lighting - Well glass wall light - galvanised, clear glass - 7679 W GA CL
davey lighting: well glass wall light

That’s a lot to ask from a room that might, in many cases, be barely bigger than a king size mattress. Which can make it one of the most complicated rooms in the house to illuminate for all the afore-mentioned reasons. And it might also have no natural light of its own. So where to start? Well with the help of Charlie Bowles, director of Original BTC which acquired Davey 10 years ago,  I have put together this guide to bathroom lighting.

Davey (part of the Original BTC Group) was founded as a marine lighting manufacturer in the 19th century. Their lights are made today using the same materials and techniques as they were back then and are designed to withstand storms at sea so they can more than cope with your toddler splashing about.

Davey Lighting The Hoxton, Paris - Humbert & Poyet
Davey Lighting The Hoxton, Paris – Weatherproof Well Glass Ship’s lights in a bespoke finish

1 First up you need two types of illumination: shadow-free task lighting for functional tasks such applying make-up and shaving and ambient lighting for when you simply want to relax in the bath.

2 Treat lighting in the bathroom as you would any living area. Bathrooms are now as much relaxation spaces as practical spaces, so if at all possible, consider your lighting at planning stage as it’s easier (and cheaper) than trying to sort it out afterwards.

davey lighting well glass wall light
davey lighting well glass wall light

3 Most bathrooms will benefit from a central lighting source in the form of a ceiling light or some downlights recessed into the ceiling. Do not put these in a grid formation but plan them around the furniture/fixtures. So do your floorplan first and plan the lights accordingly.

Davey Lighting - Hampton wall light, size 1 - opal glass - 8300 - bathroom lighting - lifestyle - Portrait
davey lighting hampton wall light size 1 opal glass

4 Wall lights will save space and create atmosphere as well as a more flattering light. If you have ever stood directly under a spotlight in front of a mirror you will know it’s harsh. Adding wall lights either side of a mirror will get the day off to a better start.

5 Accent lighting can also be used to highlight different areas and is a great way to pick up colour and detail in marble, tiles or stone.

Davey Lighting - Hex box pendant - weathered brass - bathroom lighting - 7651 BR WE CL
davey lighting hex box pendant in weathered brass

6 You can have a pendant light in a bathroom but there are rules about how far away from water it must be, which, unless you have a very high ceiling usually means it can’t hang over the bath. Consider a wall light instead, or hang a pendant off to one side where it might illuminate a corner.

davey lighting bathroom pillar light wide weathered brass
davey lighting wide pillar light in weathered brass

7 Ask your electrician to install several circuits so you can have just a soft light over the bath, or a brighter light by the mirrors depending on what you are doing at any given time.

Davey Lighting - Double well glass wall light - weathered brass, clear glass
Davey Lighting – Double well glass wall light in weathered brass with clear glass

8 While s/he’s there ask them to put everything on a dimmer for the same reason. Being able to play with the lighting will help you create the right atmosphere whether it’s the whole room dimly lit or one area that is brighter.

Davey Lighting - Box wall light - weathered brass, clear glass, externally glazed - 7642 BR WE CL - bathroom lighting - lifestyle - Portrait
Davey Lighting – Box wall light – weathered brass with clear glass

9 You can mix metals in bathrooms. Most of us have chrome taps but pick one other finish for a softer, more relaxed finish. So weathered brass, black or copper will all work well together.

Davey Lighting - Cabin LED wall light - brass, 40cm - DP7218_40 BR PO - bathroom lighting
Davey Lighting – Cabin LED wall light – brass

10 Good lighting will soften what can be a stark white space. There is a growing trend for bathrooms that are decorated like living rooms with wallpaper and soft textiles and a couple of well-chosen wall lights will definitely help this look along.

davey lighting bathroom mini globe wall light anthracite and brass
davey lighting bathroom mini globe wall light anthracite and brass

In 2010 Original BTC acquired Davey Lighting, preventing its sale to a Belgian company planning to outsource production to the Far East. With roots dating back to the shipyards of nineteenth century London, Davey Lighting combines industrial design, traditional craftsmanship and the finest raw materials. Authentic and unique, IP rated bathroom and outdoor-safe lights are manufactured in England with the same attention to detail required for their original industrial purpose.

Styles range from the glamorous Art Deco pillar lights to a more industrial bulkhead. You will find them in the Hoxton in Paris as well as all the Firmdale Hotels.






Tags : bathroom lightingDavey lightinggood lightinglightingOriginal BTC
Kate Watson-Smyth

The author Kate Watson-Smyth

I’m a journalist who writes about interiors mainly for The Financial Times but I have also written regularly for The Independent and The Daily Mail. My house has been in Living Etc, HeartHome and featured in The Wall Street Journal & Corriere della Sera. I also run an interior styling consultancy Mad About Your House. Welcome to my Mad House.


  1. Hi Kate – thank you (as always!) for such a great feature. Another wallpaper question: do you know where the dark bamboo stalk / palm leaf wallpaper in the image with the circular mirror and gloss black tiles is from? Thank you in advance if you know!

  2. Love this post! I’m a little concerned with my choices for our new bathroom….black and chrome taps and radiator (Burlington), green and white metro tiles with gray grout, and a green glass-edged art deco mirror with antiqued brass wall lights either side….too much?? The image above the ‘davey lighting wide pillar light in weathered brass’ gives me hope that the mismatch might work….

    1. When you right it down it sounds a lot but I think you will be fine – you have chrome and brass together as the only metallics (black isn’t a metallic) and chrome and brass will mix and green loves all those colours and will bring them together so I think it will be lovely.

  3. Hi Kate. A great feature – I really love BTC and Davey lights!
    Just on a different note though – I was wondering if you know who the green wallpaper in the third image is by?
    Thanks! Catherine

  4. Fabulous brand – I ordered Hector lamp and Christie pendant and they both arrived really well packaged and beautifully made.

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