Sometimes it’s the smallest spaces that need the most light. And that is certainly true in the case of bathrooms. Unfortunately, bathrooms are typically given the least lighting consideration of all the rooms in the house. Whether I am redesigning a bathroom for renovation or working on a new construction project I ask my clients lots of questions about how they currently use their bathroom and what they would like to improve about the lighting. Most often clients just say, “MORE please!” But I love to explain that their bathroom is a multi-functional space - and each different task requires a different lighting experience.
Most often I find that people are used to only one light source in their bathrooms and usually this will come from a vanity strip fixture above the mirror. Although this works fine as a budget-minded option, I always like to discuss the alternatives AND the best-case scenario. Here are some suggestions for every area and function of your bath;
Seeing Yourself in Your Best Light
Vanity lighting is used for grooming and applying makeup and should get priority when thinking about ample and appropriate lighting in your bathroom. If possible try to stay away from only using recessed lighting - and if you have no other option try to use two recessed fixtures - one on either side of your face. If you have a bigger budget AND enough space, consider using wall scones on either side of the mirror. Your goal is to light your face from multiple angles - and if possible from a variety of sources (mixing incandescent and LEDs) as we are seen in different lighting throughout the day.
Lighted make-up mirrors are a great option - if budget allows. Keep in mind these are often very bright, so a dimmable model is really important. (Kohler offers a cost effective model - but it’s not dimmable.) Another cost-effective option is a swing-arm make up mirror. These can be plug-in models or hardwired. Mounting height is based on the model you choose, so if possible select an fixture before you install the junction box.
Getting Down to the Nitty-Gritty
Whether you are bathing, cleaning or reading a good book - I like to have proper lighting in the shower and/or tub and over the toilet area. A simple recessed fixture does the trick, just be mindful of local codes; in NJ you need a lensed fixture whereas in PA you only need a wet location rated bulb.
Calgon- Take Me Away!
Often clients request a “spa-like” experience for their bathrooms. In this case dimmers are super critical! If you have the wall space available then sconces are a great option for mood lighting. Of course, most clients want a beautiful chandelier as the final touch, but be mindful that local codes will dictate the location and hanging height of any fixture over “open water”!
A Breath of Fresh Air
Selecting the appropriate exhaust fan for your bathroom may not be your priority when designing a bathroom, but it’s important to make the right choice while your walls and ceiling are open. Codes will typically state that you don’t need a fan if the bathroom has a window, but I always suggest installing the proper ventilation into EVERY bathroom! An important note is that in order for the fan to work efficiently you should turn the fan on BEFORE you start showering and fogging up the space.
Every day there seems to be a new product available to make our lives easier or just to spoil us a bit. One of these is the toilet seats which act like a bidet. These are a real luxury, and a great help in Aging-in-Place environments. Important to remember they require a receptacle, best positioned to the rear of the toilet- but accessible.
There are so many wonderful and beautifully designed options for bathroom lighting. Keep the above suggestion in mind when choosing your bathroom lighting or call a professional to help guide you through the process! After all a properly lit bathroom will help ensure you put your best foot, or face, forward every morning!