Photo courtesy of Kohler Co.
General (or ambient) lighting usually originates from overhead fixtures that create an overall glow in the bath. In a small bath, one overhead fixture should do the trick. If your bath is larger than 35 square feet, it’s best to include more than one overhead fixture.
Task lighting ensures that specific areas of the bathroom (such as the vanity area, tub, and shower) are properly illuminated. Pay special attention to the lighting at the vanity, which is where most grooming takes place.
Vanity lighting should be evenly distributed above, below, and on both sides of the mirror to eliminate natural shadows on the face. Affixing vertical lights or sconces on either side of the mirror (ideally 36 to 40 inches apart, with the center of each fixture located roughly at eye level) minimizes shadows. If sidelights aren’t possible, place a single fixture over the mirror about 78 inches above the floor. Or try wraparound vanity lights like the BeautyWrap from Kichler, which combines overhead and sidelighting. Movie star lights work too (and look cool!) as long as they’re not too bright.
If you choose to add accent lighting for an extra dose of style, consider the decorative touch pendant lights, chandeliers, or cove lighting provide.
When you select bathroom light fixtures, remember than a bare lamp will be harsh. Instead, look for thickly etched, sandblasted, or white opal glass diffusers. Another attractive option for diffusing bright light is the etched jasmine glass of the Progress Lighting Bourbon Street Collection, shown below. When it comes to bulbs, low-voltage halogen versions create crisp white light. Or consider fluorescent lights, which create less heat than incandescent bulbs so you won’t get as hot when you’re standing close to the vanity.
If possible, provide separate controls for each type of lighting in your bathroom so you can turn lights on and off as needed. And for safety, remember to keep all switches located at least 6 feet away from the tub or shower.
Speaking of safety—don’t forget to include a nightlight! Automatic nightlights that plug into electrical outlets are an easy addition to your bathroom. Or try a low-voltage system below the vanity toe-kick or around shelving. Another option: The M Series mirrored cabinet from Robern includes a cool blue integrated nightlight with the medicine cabinet.
The Home Know-It-All