The average person uses the bathroom six to ten times a day. And that's doesn't include, getting ready in the morning, going to bed at night or taking a shower. The bathroom can be one of the busiest rooms in the house. That's why it's so crucial to have proper lighting for the bathroom. Without a good lighting design in your bathroom, shaving your face, brushing your teeth or taking a shower would all be nearly impossible tasks.
But it's not all about hiring an electrician and bamâ€”you have lights. It takes more than that to get the best lighting for your bathroom design. It takes good planning, a basic knowledge of how light design works and a qualified electrician to get the job done right. Use these tips and techniques to get the best lighting for your bathroom space.
Consulting the Consultant
Sometimes, a little knowledge and experience can go a long way. Design consultants that have previous experience in bathroom lighting design are a good bet when you're designing a large master bathroom. Even if your budget is too tight for hiring on extra workers, it's best to get a professionally written book on lighting design to get the basic understanding that a design professional can bring to your project.
Lighting Design Tip #1 - Experience is the key to lighting design. Even if you can't hire a professional, it's a good idea to read up on their work to help gain insight into ideas and design methods for bathroom lighting you may not have thought of before.
Thinking Outside of the Box
Unless you're starting from scratch, you're more than likely to have an existing bathroom with some mighty lighting challenges to overcome. But don't fretâ€”with the use of some unconventional tactics like LED cabinet lighting and tubular skylights, lighting options can be changed to suit the location.
Lighting Design Tip #2- If you have an unconventional bathroom, you need unconventional lighting solutions. Track lighting and other directional lighting options can focus light in odd angles where other lighting options just won't reach.
A bathroom without natural light tends to look very subterranean and has an industrial feel to it. Unfortunately, most bathrooms are sandwiched between interior walls and getting a window in place can be next to impossible. Skylights open up a wide variety of natural light that has a good view to the outdoors, while being absolutely private. Solar reflective tubing can be used in lieu of larger fixed glass skylights. Tubes channel sunlight to the bathroom, even around overhead existing rafters, plumbing and electric.
Lighting Design Tip #3 - If a skylight isn't going to happen, opt out for natural and soft white florescent bulbs mixed in the same ballast. The two contrasting light colors create a natural glow that covers both the red and blue spectrum of light found in everyday sunlight.
Every bathroom area needs a source of task lighting. Whether you use the shower, look in the mirror or wash your hands in the sink, zoned lighting can provide the perfect source of lighting for each area you use regularly. By wiring switches for each zone of the bathroom, you help create the perfect lighting solutions for a relaxing soak in the tub, a vigorous tooth brushing or time in front of the makeup mirror.
Lighting Design Tip #4 - Task lighting varies in intensity in the bathroom. Obviously the same lighting intensity for vanity lights is not the same you need for the tub. Installing dimmer switches can give you the ultimate in control from the brightest vanity lighting to the lowest in night lighting; all with the slide of a switch.
Layer it on
Task lighting certainly isn't the only lighting option you need for your bathroom. By layering lighting types, you help to create not only the right light source where appropriate, but also to create a style all of its own. Lighting in a bathroom should use these four basic lighting solutions:
â€¢ Task lighting should be the first lighting solution to address. Task lights like makeup mirrors and recessed lights are great for bathroom task lighting.â€¢ Ambient lighting like florescent and LED help to give the bathroom a warm glow. Ambient light sources like natural light are the best to use when possible.â€¢ Accent lighting directs light to areas like statues, wall art and shelving to add focus to your design theme and décor. â€¢ Aesthetic lighting uses these other three lighting options in conjunction with a stylish ballast. Similar to accent lighting but instead the ballast is the focus and not the décor.
Lighting Design Tip #5 - Task lighting that prevents shadows should be addressed first in your bathroom lighting design. All other lighting sources can only compliment task lighting thereafter.
Mirror Mirror on the Wall
Task lighting around a mirror can get tricky. If horizontal top lights are too close to the mirror, the bulbs will reflect back into your face when you view yourself. Too far away and the light source can create shadows. Vertical mirror lighting can be impractical when space is limited as well. Nominal measurements for horizontal light bars are typically around 80 inches off of the floor. Centered vertical measurements of at least two feet or greater should be achieved to ensure enough light reflects back to your eyes from the light source.
Lighting Design Tip #6 - No matter what size fixture you get, if the wattage isn't enough, the bulbs will be too dim. Employ a minimum of 150 watts for the best mirror lighting possible.
The shower is a definite must light area, especially if shower curtains or other semi-opaque coverings are used. While a glass shower enclosure may not need the benefits of direct task lighting, other shower enclosures certainly do. Recessed can lighting is the perfect solution to shower task lights.
Lighting Design Tip #7 - While conventional recessed lights typically use a 60 watt incandescent bulb, upgrading to an LED system will pay off in the long run. The conventional bulb life over a shower can be very limited compared to the long lasting LED.