Choosing the Best Bathroom Lighting


Bathroom lighting can be tricky, and there’s rarely enough natural light to do the job. In this often-overlooked room, a standard light fixture is generally thrown in at the last minute.

But there’s so much more to bathroom lighting than meets the eye. A mix of task and mood lighting are ideal to create a space that works for everyday grooming and weekend relaxing. Layering these elements will make a space that is welcoming throughout the day and adjusts according to your needs.

Task Lighting

The bathroom is a utilitarian room at heart. That means the lighting should be primarily functional. However, that doesn’t need to come at the expense of style.

Vanity Lighting: A row of lights over the mirror is standard practice, but it’s actually the least effective way to light the bathroom for necessary tasks. Side lighting offers a much more even and shadow-free light for your face. Mount sconces on each side in the middle of the mirrors for symmetry and the best light distribution.

Sconces that have shades that face upwards or downwards will both do the trick. Bulbs that offer 75 to 100 watts of light each will illuminate the room well for daily rituals. Placing these bulbs on a dimmer will make evening grooming rituals more pleasant, and will adjust easily to brighten the room as you wake up in the morning. You’ll want a nice white light that renders colors true.

Shower Lighting: One light is rarely enough to light the entire bathroom space, so it’s ideal to have task lighting above the shower or bath, as well. Look for bright but diffused light for a shower. Above a bath, lighting can be more unique, such as track lighting or chandeliers. In either case, you’ll need to be certain you’re using lights that are wet-rated for safety. If necessary, this light can have a fan attached to it, but it is more convenient to have the fan on a separate switch from any light.

Mood Lighting

A bathroom also has a relaxing element, and lighting options are excellent for transforming the space into a calming retreat.

Ambient Lighting: Ambient light adds a softening effect to the bathroom. Generally diffused by a shade or globe, and often recessed, this light is best if it has a subtle white or blue tone to mimic natural light. These lights should be on a separate switches from the task lighting, so you can create a lighting scheme according to your needs. All of the switches need not be on one plate by the entrance. Try spreading them around the bathroom and adding electrical outlets with them for convenience. The bulbs for mood lighting can also be warmer if you wish to create a more layered lighting effect.

Decorative Lighting: Also known as accent lighting, decorative lighting makes the bathroom pop. Decorative lighting is used to highlight one particular feature of the bathroom, such as a piece of art or interesting architectural detail, or to become the focal point itself. It can also serve as a nightlight that can be left on for guests to find their way.A simple warm recessed light can do the job nicely, as can something more fanciful to accentuate a high ceiling or small bench.

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