Today, the modern bathroom has become a place to relax. We need to keep this in mind when designing bathroom lighting. One principle to keep in mind is this: incorporating more accent lighting allows you to create a warm, soothing atmosphere.
When we talk about lighting the bathroom, the first thing many people think is that the room must be bright because we perform many functional tasks within this space. Tasks like bathing, grooming, or applying make-up require a lot of lighting in the right places. However, a common mistake many people make is trying to use one light source to light up the entire bathroom. You can find a single bathroom lighting fixture that gives you a lot of light, but you will get a lot of glare and shadows from that fixture. By adding different layers of light from a variety of light sources, you get more light without the glare. These multiple layers also create more balanced light within the space.
Adding layers also opens the door for more dramatic design. Today, people are getting much more creative with their bathrooms. They are investing in high-end decorative sinks, tubs, toilet bowls, showerheads and hardware. You want to be able to highlight these features with the proper contemporary bathroom lighting.
When lighting a bathroom, focus first on the tasks in the room. The bathroom is where one grooms or bathes, so you need to ensure that the bath lighting provides the correct color of white light, delivers the right amount of surface light, and reflects off surfaces at the correct angle to eliminate glare and shadows. This is important whether you are lighting your face, the wall or a sink.
To accomplish this, look for bathroom light sources that deliver colors similar to those perceived in natural sunlight, as these colors complement skin tones best. A traditional halogen light source is a great solution that provides a nice white light that is great for grooming. If you are looking for a great looking energy-efficient alternative, LED lamps can be ideal for bathrooms. However, be sure to look for light sources that deliver a CRI of 80 or higher. CRI stands for Color Rendering Index, and CRI values above 80 show colors as they appear in natural sunlight.
Additionally, look for a color temperature between 2700K and 3000K from your light source. Color temperatures in this range offer a perfect, flattering warm-white illumination ideal for bathroom tasks. Note – avoid selecting color temperatures above 3500K for your bathroom lighting. Light sources with color temperatures in this range deliver "blue" hue light that is not ideal for bathrooms. Last, you can find both CRI and Color Temperature values on most of today's lamp/fixture packaging.
Once the task lighting is determined, you can incorporate other accent or decorative layers of light to balance out the functional task lighting and add more effect. Some ideas include adding recessed cans to highlight artwork or décor in the space. Add wall sconces, bath bars, or vanity lights to complement the vanity (read our bathroom vanity lighting article for advice on how to pick the very best). Maybe add some pendants, or even a small chandelier to make a personal design statement. Lighted mirrors are an increasingly popular option for streamlined, eye-catching bathroom lighting. The possibilities are endless.
Another important factor in the bathroom's lighting design is the fact that bathrooms are damp locations. When locating a light fixture over a bathtub, or installing shower lighting, you need to be sure that those fixtures are wet location rated. While this does limit your options for shower and tub areas, there are plenty of available options. That said, you do not have to worry about a wet location rating on the vanity or within the bathroom itself. Overall, incorporate multiple light layers into the design to increase your options.
Last, to achieve the desired dramatic effect that is so popular today, consider something other than a simple switch to control the light. Dimmers allow you to easily change the look and feel within the room. For instance, being able to dim the bathroom lights enables you to turn the lighting down to a soft glow in the middle of the night so if you need to use the restroom, you do not need to walk into a bright room. Select a soothing level of light if you're looking to relax and soak in the tub. Again, the important thing to remember is that more layers of light creates more options, however you need to be able to control the layers.
Life is tough. We work a lot of hours and it's nice to come home to a welcoming atmosphere – to let the day melt away! You are not only in the bathroom for functional reasons. It is a place to relax, and to become re-energized. A creative lighting design for your bath helps make it become your own private sanctuary.
As always, we are here to help. If you have questions about you own bathroom lighting, feel free to contact any of our lighting specialists directly!