If you wear makeup, then you know the story of poor bathroom lighting. You get ready to go out, and you feel fabulous. One last look in the mirror confirms that everything is in place, and you enter your social gathering with confidence. Then, you use the bathroom, and when washing your hands, you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror in proper light. This is not the person who left the house perfectly coiffed and manicured. This person looks like a clown or a pre-teen who just started experimenting with eye liner. You try to blot the makeup with toilet paper, but what is done is done. Thankfully, the venue is rather dark, and you hope nobody notes the true state of your face.
Maybe you don’t wear makeup, and you don’t think bathroom lights are a big deal. Well, lighting does not only conceal makeup mishaps. It can also accentuate imperfections. Have you ever had an “ugly” mirror? It was not the mirror’s fault. It was the lighting. With proper lighting, you can feel confident that what you see in your reflection is what others will see, and it will prevent you from feeling undeservedly ugly.
A majority of the problems with bathroom lighting occur because they are installed in the wrong location.
- Overhead lighting: Overhead lighting is important for the general use of the bathroom because it spreads light throughout the room. It has a tendency to be harsh, so having it on a dimmer is recommended. This should not be the only type of lighting in a bathroom!
- Task lighting: Task lighting is basically the lighting required to put on makeup in front of the mirror. It should not come from above, as this will cast unsightly shadows on the face. Instead, it should be symmetrically hung at face height or be installed behind where the person would stand. Lastly, it must be symmetric, or makeup results could be very negative.
- Shower/bath lighting: It seems that there are many dark showers and tubs, and there is no reason not to light up this area of the home. Showers and especially tubs are supposed to be relaxing, so a dimmer switch here may be a good choice as well.
- Artwork lighting: If you have art hanging above the toilet, light it. Otherwise, it will look hidden in the shadows of the bathroom.
- Extras: There are many other options for lighting up a bathroom. Accent lighting can be hidden under cabinets and other fixtures to provide pleasant, ambient light. Even toilets can have lighting as one of their features. Talk to your electrician about other options.
Types of fixtures
- Recessed: Recessed lighting is good for overhead lighting, and it typically fits in modern bathroom designs. It is especially helpful in bath/shower lighting because it can be made waterproof.
- Ceiling-mounted: These fixtures are great if you want to add some character to the design of your room, but they are not the best option for bathroom mirror lighting.
- Vanity lighting: Vanity lighting is task lighting, and it should be installed to the left and right of the mirror in order to avoid shadowing.
- Strip lighting: Strip lighting is accent lighting that can be put practically anywhere since LEDs became the norm. In fact, they have strip lighting in the form of tape that can be stuck to most surfaces.
The last thing to consider is the type of bulb to put in the fixture. Edison bulbs are very popular in pendant lighting, as they give the appearance of being antique by showing a filament. However, this type of bulb is more about art than function.
In order to get a bulb that functions well for task lighting, you want it to be as close to natural light as possible. In order to accomplish this, it should have a high color-rendering index. This will ensure that the light the bulb emits is portraying you as naturally as possible. Vanities should not give you an inaccurate image.
Lastly, energy efficiency is the name of today’s game, and LEDs are very efficient and last a long time. They are also available in high-CRI models, which will give you the closest thing to natural light that exists.
Bathroom lights, neglected but important
When it comes to remodeling or building a bathroom, many people neglect to put any extra thought into lighting. They may spend days or weeks contemplating faucets and shower heads, but then the lighting becomes a cheap afterthought.
Lighting is what makes a bathroom feel like a comfortable spa where one can get ready for the day or destress after a long day. It can also make it feel institutional. The success of your bathroom design relies on proper lighting, and it is something that should be high on the list of design priorities.