Given the frequency we use our bathrooms, having the correct lighting is vital in order for us to perform daily tasks both efficiently and comfortably. The ideal bathroom lighting plan uses a combination of lighting that will allow you to address each function of your bathroom separately, as well as illuminating the entire space as naturally as possible. Here are five bathroom lighting tips.
#1 – Task Lighting
In simple terms, task lighting refers to an increased level of brightness or luminescence in a particular space in order to light a specific task. It’s important when it comes to bathrooms in particular because incorrectly placed task lighting can cause an increase in contrast which can result in excess shadows and a lack of light.
There are a huge variety of task lights available and one of its more common uses is near the bathroom vanity. This allows for more concentrated lighting in order to undertake tasks like shaving, hair styling or makeup application. In terms of task lighting, an important bathroom lighting tip is to avoid placing a light solely above the mirror as this can throw a strong light on your forehead and cast deep shadows underneath your nose, eyes and chin. Not ideal!
Sconces (light fixtures affixed to a wall) placed either side of your mirror provide the best lighting for detailed tasks and these types of lights usually consist of multiple bulbs or fixtures. These should offer enough light to highlight facial features, and if they’re mounted at eye level will provide virtually shadowless illumination.
#2 – Ambient Lighting
When considering the best lighting for your bathroom, it’s not all about its practical features, it should also add mood and personality to your bathroom as well. Ambient lighting essentially refers to light that provides general illumination over an entire area, and its purpose is to substitute any natural light, particularly at night. Ambient lighting is often referred to as ‘fill light’ and it comes in a range of forms from ceiling lights and downlights to track, pendant and cove lights.
Ceiling lights are generally placed in the centre of the bathroom, and they cast overall light that descends down from above. Downlights work by throwing light downwards in a narrow beam, track lighting can allow you to define where you would like light to fall, and pendant and cove lights create subtle indirect lighting, so they are a great way to enhance your bathroom’s overall atmosphere.
Dimmers can also help with a bathroom’s ambience and allow your eyes to adjust to light first thing in the morning, and installing your lighting on different switches will allow you to customise your light sources for the relevant task at hand. Ambient light is generally enhanced by task lighting, so you should take this into consideration when planning your bathroom’s overall lighting design.
#3 – Accent Lighting
In terms of the best bathroom lighting for creating focal points, accent lighting can assist with highlighting particular features of your bathroom, including tile work, artwork, basins and decorative pieces. Accent lights can either take the form of recessed or standard ‘spotlights’, and they include things like strip lights and adjustable downlights.
One of the more popular trends in modern bathroom designs is the use of recessed strip or night lights which are designed to emit low-level continuous lighting, illuminating the path towards (and within) your bathroom. These types of lights can also be placed under or behind vanity units and mirrors to highlight a statement focal piece.
#4 – Natural Lighting
Another useful tip in our bathroom lighting guide is to utilise any available daylight in order to illuminate a bathroom. A carefully placed window or skylight (including tubular skylights) will not only provide a good source of brightness throughout the day, they can also help reduce your power usage. Even the smallest window can open up a room as well as provide added ventilation, and reduce your dependency on bathroom exhaust fans.
Mirrors are also a highly effective tool for enhancing the illusion of both light and space. When placed near to or opposite a window or light fitting, mirrors can reflect light and distribute it evenly throughout the room.
#5 – Coloured Lighting
When considering the best bathroom lighting for your needs, think about whether you prefer ‘warm’ or ‘cool’ lighting. Warm light emits a yellow ‘cosy’ tone whereas white light is typically more clinical in its brightness. The most popular choice of colour temperature in a bathroom is usually either ‘cool while’ (bright white) or ‘daylight’, which gives the most accurate visibility of skin tone and therefore is a good overall bathroom lighting option.
Another consideration is the brightness of the lights you choose. LED lights, for example, are measured in lumens (lm) and most interior design experts would recommend lighting levels of around 1100 lm in order to minimise harshness and maintain subtlety.
The colour of the light itself can also be used to create atmosphere and simple track lighting can often be used to good effect. Yellow light is encouraging and stimulating, green lighting can have a calming influence, and blue lighting, when combined with a warm colour palette, can create an aura of relaxation.
A Note On Energy Efficient Lighting
Because lighting represents around 10 per cent of the average household electricity bill, when it comes to bathroom lighting tips, an important factor to consider is the energy efficiency of the lights you choose. Old-style incandescent globes were the most common type of lighting for many years, however, were extremely inefficient and have been phased out since 2009.
The two main types of light bulbs these days are light emitting diodes (LEDs) and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). LEDs provide excellent illumination and are generally the most efficient, with a lifetime of up to 50,000 hours. CFLs are usually cheaper than LEDs, however, are still much more efficient to run than incandescent lights. The government’s energy rating website offers consumers a handy light bulb buyer’s guide and a free app that can help you determine the most efficient lighting for your needs.