Buying Guide Bathroom Mirrors & Lighting

Bathroom mirrors and lighting may at first seem to be not quite as important as the actual fittings and bathroom furniture. However, in fact they do have an important part to play – the mirrors and lighting will reflect and illuminate every feature of the room. Of course, all bathrooms need  mirrors  and bright, cheerful and flattering lighting. Sometimes it possible to combine both together – with additional storage too if you choose from a furniture range that includes mirrored cabinets.

Bathroom Mirrors & Lighting


If anyone in the family uses the bathroom mirror for make-up application, there will be some predictable grumpiness if the lighting isn’t up to scratch. An adjustable magnifying mirror is desirable, and a large, well-lit wall mirror above the basin cabinet is a must-have. Look at furniture ranges, even if you don’t want basin or toilet cabinetry;  they will almost certainly include beautiful mirror cabinets that are slim and unobtrusive, and highly suitable for smaller bathrooms.  Remember, there are installation and electrical regulations which must be considered when installing bathroom lighting.





Today’s  bathroom mirrors  are items of beauty, complete with lights and anti-mist functions. It’s best to buy cabinets and mirrors that are specifically designed for bathroom use. However, if the bathroom is large and mirrors can be safe from water splashes, why not look for antique and distressed mirror glass effects, often available as mirror tiles as well as larger-scale sheets.


Individual Mirrors

A simple, decorative, wall-hung mirror can be for everyday practical use or as part of the overall decorative scheme. Antique shops and auction houses are a great source for decorative mirrors, check that the hanging hook or chain is secure and study. A very effective interior design ‘trick’ is to group lots of wall-hung mirrors together for an eclectic look.


Mirror Cabinets

Why not have a mirror and a bit of extra storage too … a mirror cabinet is usually very slim (around 15cm or less), so doesn’t encroach on the room too much. A mirror cabinet is also a great way of splitting up storage space/shelves between different members of the family!


Mirror Cabinets with Lighting

It would be remiss not to include  lighting   with your mirror and cabinet choices. Most bathroom furniture collections include a choice of mirrored cabinets, many with lighting functions. Plan ahead though, it’s really practical to be able to specify that the cabinet will need connecting to an electrical supply at the planning stage, rather than having cables chased into the new walls at a later stage.





Modern Mirrors

A contemporary, modern mirror can be a very plain affair, but may have quite a few additional features. These can range from LED illumination and sensor operation to having an specific area which provides extra magnification and an integrated de-misting feature. If the mirror regularly steams up, a de-mister is a must; it’s basically a heated pad, which is positioned behind the mirror and avoids the clash of warm air and steam against cold glass, causing the mirror to fog up.


Modern Lighting

If you’re not choosing a bathroom cabinet with integrated lighting, look at light fittings that are specifically designed for bathroom use. The fitting will need to be supplied with an IP (Ingress Protection) rating, which dictates in what proximity to taps, showerheads etc it can be used.


Traditional Mirrors

Look at classic and traditional bathroom ranges, there will be matching mirrors available. Alternatively, source a traditional mirror from an antique dealer or interior design studio. Make sure the back of the mirror is protected from steam and condensation – the bathroom may not be the best place for a very valuable item.


Traditional Lighting

Classic and traditional designs are widely available, always buy from a retailer who can confirm that the light fitting you’ve chosen is safe for use in a bathroom and that it has an IP rating. It’s fashionable for magazines and catalogues to show elaborate pendant and chandelier-style lights in a spacious, ornate bathroom. Make sure that the fitting is suited to such use, or consider it as a decorative addition only. Generally, chandelier-style light fittings work best when they are illuminated by further spotlights.





Cords & Switches

The main bathroom light should be operated by a pull-cord or by a wall switch outside the bathroom door. Individual wall lights can have their own pull cords or be controlled by a wall switch outside the bathroom.


Bathroom Lighting Zones

Bathroom lights  must have an IP (Ingress Protection) rating. Zone 0 is for light fittings inside a bath (such as a whirlpool or spa) or inside a shower, fittings should be rated IP7. Zone 1 is vertically above the bath or shower, up to 2.25m, fittings should be rated IP4. Zone 2 is slightly more complex, it covers the area next to and around Zone 1, up to 0.6m wide and beyond the 2.25 metres above the bath or shower zone. It also refers to the area around the wash basin – a radius of 0.6m around the tap – light fittings should be a minimum of IP4.


Lighting Design

If you like the idea of coloured lighting (Chromatherapy), or LEDs inset into the floor or along the plinth line of bathroom cabinets, consult the lighting expert within your chosen independent bathroom showroom. Special effects, up lighting and down lighting,  alcove and shelf-edge lights can be used to make a real difference to the overall design of your bathroom.

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