How to Pick the Right Shower Lighting Ideas

Choosing the perfect lighting for your shower can completely transform the look and feel of your bathroom. The right lighting makes the shower feel bright and inviting while also creating a relaxing ambiance. With so many different shower lighting options to pick from these days, it can be tricky to settle on the right one. Follow this guide to learn the key factors to consider when selecting shower lighting to create your ideal shower experience.

Determine the Purpose of the Lighting

Before picking shower lights, think about how you plan to use the shower and what kind of ambiance you want to create. This will help determine what type and amount of lighting will work best.

Task Lighting

If the lighting needs to serve a functional purpose like providing visibility for tasks like shaving or grooming, opt for brighter task lighting. Wall sconces or ceiling flush mount lights positioned right outside or over the shower provide ideal task lighting.

Ambient Lighting

For a relaxing spa-like vibe, layer ambient lighting from multiple sources around the shower. Accent lighting like LED strips under shelves and toe-kick lighting paired with overhead general lighting creates a warm glow.

Accent Lighting

Use accent lighting to highlight and draw attention to specific design features. Strategically placed picture lights, pendant lights, or recessed lighting can create drama and interest.

Consider the Location

The position of the lighting fixtures will impact the illumination levels in the shower.

Ceiling Lights

Overhead ceiling lights like flush mounts, chandeliers, or track lighting provide even general illumination throughout the shower area.

Wall Lights

Wall sconces or vanity lighting installed right outside the shower brightly light the interior. Wall-mounted showerheads with built-in lighting also direct focused task lighting.

Niche Lights

Niche lighting inside built-out recesses highlights those design features and casts indirect lighting. Rope lighting or LED strips around niches create ambient glow.

Choose Fixture Types

The lighting fixture design impacts the aesthetic and safety of the shower lighting. Evaluate options like:

Flush Mounts

Ceiling-mounted flush light fixtures have an unobtrusive low profile design perfect for smaller showers. Ensure damp or wet location rating.

Track Lighting

Flexible track systems with multiple adjustable spotlights let you easily direct illumination. Use damp or wet location track lighting.

Vanity Lighting

Vanity strip lighting or wall sconces positioned above the bathroom mirror provide bright, shadow-free lighting.

Pendant Lights

A singular pendant fixture or chandelier with multiple hanging pendants creates a striking focal point and general shower lighting.

Recessed/Can Lighting

Recessed can lights built seamlessly into the ceiling offer adjustable directional lighting ideal for accenting specific shower features.

Select the Right Bulb Type

The bulb determines the light output, quality, and efficiency of the lighting fixture.


LED bulbs are the most energy-efficient and long-lasting bulbs optimal for shower lighting. Fully dimmable LEDs allow adjusting ambiance.


Incandescent bulbs have a warm, inviting light color but are less efficient than LED options. Use in areas without shower spray.


Halogen bulbs also produce warm light and work for accent lighting outside the shower. Avoid using where they can get wet.

Consider Lighting Controls

Convenient lighting controls allow customizing the lighting effects to match your mood and needs.

Dimmer Switches

Dimmers give variable control over the light output, enabling adjusting between bright task lighting and soft ambiance. Many LED fixtures are dimmable.

Motion Sensors

Hands-free motion sensor activated lights add convenience and save energy by automatically turning off when not in use.

Automation Systems

More advanced home automation systems allow personalized lighting scenes, schedules, voice or app control for ultimate smart convenience.

Check Electrical and Safety Requirements

Proper installation is critical to ensure shower lighting is code-compliant and safe in the harsh bathroom environment.

GFCI Outlets

Lighting fixtures in bathrooms require connection to a dedicated, ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet for protection.

Moisture Resistance

Lighting must have damp or wet location ratings like IP65 to prevent issues from shower steam and splashes.

Vapor Barriers

Vapor barriers behind fixtures keep moisture away from electrical connections. UL-certified waterproof LED fixtures also help.


Install lighting in conjunction with a bath fan vented to the outside to actively limit moisture buildup.

Complement the Design Aesthetic

Choose lighting fixture finishes and styles that integrate well with your overall bathroom look and feel.

Finish Material

Polished chrome, brushed nickel, oil-rubbed bronze, or gold finishes work for most design styles. Match existing finishes in the space.

Glass Shades

Clear, frosted, or patterned glass lamp shades pair well with both traditional and modern aesthetics. Glass withstands humidity well.

Minimalist Styling

For contemporary design, pick streamlined fixtures like rectangle wall sconces or minimalist pendant lights.

Transitional Elements

Incorporate transitional lighting like drum pendants or curving wall sconces to bridge modern and traditional decor.

Illuminate Safely

Proper precautions during and after installation ensure lighting is not a safety hazard in the damp shower environment.

Hire an Electrician

Always have new bathroom lighting installed properly by a certified electrician, never do it yourself.

Use GFCI Outlets

Connecting lights to GFCI outlets limits electrocution and shock risks from wet conditions. Test GFCIs monthly.

Check Wattage Ratings

Do not exceed the recommended wattage bulbs for the lighting fixture to prevent overheating.

Keep Lights On When Running Water

Run the bathroom vent fan and keep lights on whenever showering to avoid steam damage over time.

Check for Leaks

Inspect lighting regularly for moisture leaks that could damage fixtures or create electrical hazards if not addressed.

Lighting Ideas for Different Shower Designs

The shower type and layout will impact the best lighting placement and styles to optimize illumination.

Walk-In Showers

For spacious walk-in showers, use multiple recessed can lights in the ceiling to distribute light evenly. Line the perimeter with wall sconces.

Corner Showers

Take advantage of two walls with corner showers. Install matching wall sconces on both sides for bright, cast-across lighting.

Shower Niches

Illuminate built-out niches in showers with integrated LED strips or rope lighting to highlight those special features.

Glass Shower Enclosures

On glass shower doors or walls, consider attaching strip lighting for unique glow effects. Or install pendant lights overhead.

Freestanding Bathtubs

Freestanding tub-shower combos look stunning washed in light. Hang pendant lights above or use floor lamps behind the tub.

Set the Right Lighting Intensity

Thebrightness of the lighting should support the intended use of the shower without feeling overly bright and harsh.

For Grooming: 70-100 Lumens/Square Foot

Installing lighting that provides 70-100 lumens per square foot creates ideal visibility for tasks like shaving.

For Relaxing: 30-50 Lumens/Square Foot

Keep general ambient lighting lower at 30-50 lumens per square foot for a calming effect perfect for unwinding.

For Accents: 20-30 Lumens/Square Foot

Subtle accent lighting around 20-30 lumens per square foot adds interesting drama without overpowering other fixtures.

Use Dimmer Switches

Dimmers allow easy adjustments to lighting levels at different times of day for both function and mood.

Ask Yourself

Asking yourself these key questions will help narrow down shower lighting selections:

  • Will the lighting serve a task purpose or just ambient lighting?
  • Where will fixtures be located – ceiling, wall, or within niches?
  • What style lighting will complement the bathroom design – modern, traditional, transitional?
  • Do I want lighting controls like dimmers or motion sensors?
  • What lighting intensity creates the right ambiance and function?

Frequently Asked Questions About Shower Lighting

Still have questions about selecting the perfect shower lighting? Here are answers to some frequently asked questions.

What is the best type of lighting for a shower?

Overhead flush or recessed canopy lighting provides the best overall illumination for the shower area. Supplement with wall sconces inside the shower or right outside.

How many lights should be in a shower?

Include at least 2-3 lighting sources in the shower for optimal visibility and ambiance. Overhead plus wall sconces or an overhead light along with niche lighting works well.

Should you put recessed lights in a shower?

Yes, recessed can lights work very well in showers when installed properly on a GFCI circuit and rated for damp locations. Opt for LED recessed lighting.

Can you use pendant lights in a shower?

Pendant lights add stylish focal points above bathtubs and showers. Look for damp location rated fixtures with vapor barriers and limit pendants inside walk-in showers.

Should shower lighting be warm or cool?

Shower lighting is generally best as a neutral white (3000-4000K color temperature). Cool white looks unflattering on skin. Warm white can make the shower feel smaller.

How do I choose lighting color temperature?

Stick with soft white 2700-3000K lights for a warm ambiance. Brighter white 3000-4000K works well for task lighting. Avoid anything higher than 5000K.

How do you waterproof shower lights?

Use lighting rated damp location or IP65 waterproof. Install a vapor barrier behind fixtures. Connect lights to a GFCI outlet. Also caulk around fixtures.

Where should shower niche lighting be placed?

Install LED strip lighting around the top or underside perimeter of the niche. Or place small spotlights to highlight niches from above.


The lighting in your shower can make the space feel luxurious and inviting or dark and unappealing. Pay close attention to the lighting placement, fixture styles, controls, and brightness when designing your dream shower lighting. Layer ambient, task, and accent lighting to create the perfect balance of relaxation and function. With the right lighting approach, your shower can become a heavenly retreat and spa-like sanctuary to start and end each day.