Bathroom Lighting Essentials

by Rachel Laurendeau on April 22, 2012

A few weeks ago, while away on a business trip, I was staying at a hotel with well-appointed furnishings, lovely art on the walls and a great view of Lake Michigan. Much to my dismay, when I walked into the bathroom the lighting was so terrible that I barely wanted to look at myself in the mirror. I must say I had the same reaction each subsequent time that I walked into that room! Now, I am not a woman who typically shies away from mirrors, so what was going on in that bathroom that had me feeling so self-conscious?

A number of elements should be considered when choosing lighting for your bathroom remodeling project:

• Consider the size of the room; larger rooms need more lighting.
• Is there natural light? If your bathroom has windows you may require less wattage or fewer fixtures.
• Lighting fixtures should complement the style and décor of the bathroom.
• Start with the fixtures around the vanity; they should be bright enough to apply makeup or shave but soft enough to be complimentary. They should be placed so as to avoid casting shadows on your face, generally along the full length at the top of the mirror.
• If you are also hanging sconces along the sides of the mirror, they should be set at approximately eye level.
• Choose the right bulbs and wattage for your needs. Avoid bare bulbs and consider frosted or coated bulbs to prevent glare.
• A ceiling fixture will help to layer the light and ensure that the whole room is lit, not just the vanity area. This can be achieved through recessed lights or a fixture. If you have high ceilings, pendant lights add a nice touch.
• Particularly if you have a large bathroom, you may want to include recessed lighting in the shower or above the tub, this provides both ambient lighting and safety. You’ll want to aim the light’s beam at the outside edge of the tub to avoid glare.
• Dimmer switches are a nice touch for those middle of the night or early morning visits to the loo. They are also great when you are having a luxurious soak in the tub.

A side note about wall color in the bathroom. Choosing the right paint colors for your bathroom is nearly as important as choosing your lighting. Pick a color that is flattering to your skin tone. Peach, terra cotta, and pink tones are flattering for most people. Stay away from yellow-greens as they will make most people look ashen and sick. If you have your heart set on a not-so-complimentary color, try using it on a wall that is not reflected in the mirror.

When taking on a bathroom remodeling project, not only are you selecting luxurious showers, sleek faucets, and soothing tile, you also need to take into consideration the practical features of the room. Choosing the right lighting fixtures for your bathroom can give you great bang for your buck when you consider the cost of a major bathroom renovation. As for me, next time I go out of town, I’ll hope to stay at a hotel with more complimentary lighting!

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