Creating the Best Bathroom Lighting

If there is no option for sidemouting lighting, then mount lighting above the mirror.

Creating lighting for a bathroom is different from that of any other room.  Your goal is to have light that shines out and up the walls, as opposed to down from the ceilings, and ultimately to minimize that shadows cast on your face, surrounding it instead with light.

Sadly, when it often comes to interior lighting, the bathroom is commonly given less attention than other areas in a home.  People tend to forget that bathrooms are a place to relax and recharge, and opt for a do-all single ceiling fixture.

The best lighting is layered, allowing light to get where it is needed for shaving, bathing, and applying makeup, while still enhancing the overall mood of the room.

Task lighting, or the lighting for the things that you need light to do (shaving, makeup, etc.) is the most important.

The mirror: For countless years, vanity lighting continues to work best at illuminating heads and faces.  DON’T place a lighting fixture directly above your mirror.  It will cast shadows on your face.  For even facial lighting, establish vertical fixtures or sconces mounted on either side of the mirror.  ONLY if there is no side mount should you mount a fixture over a mirror.  Vanity lighting fixtures should be roughly eye level, or about 66 inches above the floor, best guaranteeing even illumination of the face.

The shower: if there is a clear, glass door, additional lighting may not be necessary. If not, then consider a recessed light fixture with a glass lens (plastic will yellow, glass won’t).

For non-task lighting, try to find a substitute for natural light.  Rather than using a simple central fixture, consider a chandelier, pendant lamp, or cove lighting (rope light that’s hidden behind a molding).   Having a small spotlight directed at a piece of artwork or a powder room basin also creates another layer of light.

Light Bulbs: Halogens are the gold standard, and cost a little more than incandescent bulbs, but last three times longer.  Modern compact fluorescents are a good alternative, offing ten times the efficiency of regular incandesents and good color rendering.

Consider using dimmers, because they grant you absolute control over the lighting, and help you to conserve energy.

SAFETY FIRST!  Electricity and water still don’t mix.  Remember to consult a certified electrician before undertaking the simplest of lighting projects, and make sure that your outlets meet the National Electric Codes requirements for energy and safety.

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