Whether it measures 50 square feet or is big enough to vacation there, lighting a bathroom
can be a challenge. There are a number of details to consider: if an overhead light is needed; the type of overhead light; lighting over and around mirrors; and the type of bulbs to use. Plus, how much light is too little, too much, or just right? We've got the answers. (The photo at right is from ELK Lighting
The size of the bathroom is really the greatest consideration when deciding on what kind of light to use. In most cases, vanity lighting above and around the vanity/mirror will be sufficient. Generally, a bathbar (row of lights) should be centered over the mirror with a sconce on either side to eliminate shadowing the face.
The bathbar or fixture should be about 78 inches from the floor, and the sconces should measure 60 inches from the floor.
If there is a double vanity - with either one large mirror or two mirrors - the bathbar should be nearly as wide as the mirror(s). If two fixtures are being used, position them centered over the sink.
Generally speaking, homeowners should measure 300 watts for every 50 square feet. That means bulbs for the bathbar and sconces for the most common sized bathroom should total no more than 300 watts; five bulbs at 60 watts each = 300 watts.
A lot of people forget about natural light, a very important piece of bathroom lighting. Windows, sky lights, and tube lights are a great way to use light to brighten up a space without using electricity during the day. In a previous post, we described layered lighting throughout a room using a variety of different fixtures for distinct purposes. Think of natural light as overall lighting; the overhead you would normally turn on with the switch.
For truly large bathrooms, other fixtures that can function as overall, or ambient, lighting include flush or semi-flush mount ceiling downlights, or even a small chandelier for a designer touch.
As for the kind of bulb - soft white, white, compact fluorescent (CFL) - that's best in the bathroom, it's really a personal choice. Typically, the clearest, truest light that best mimics daylight should be chosen, keeping in mind that while CFL does deliver a clear brightness, one of the reasons the bulbs save consumers money is that they don't light up full blast when you flip the switch; the longer the light is activated, the brighter it becomes until it reaches full strength.
In addition to bathroom lighting we recommend bathroom vanities from, eFaucets.com®, the online leader in Faucets, Sinks, Fixtures, and accessories for the Kitchen and Bath. Be sure to check out their Faucet Blog called Faucet Expert™
Bathrooms have evolved over the last decade from simply functional rooms to mood setting and relaxation rooms. They used to be small and bright and sterile. Now homeowners are turning their bathrooms into private retreats or home spas. New lighting is one of the easiest and most cost effective ways to upgrade the most used room in the house. Bathrooms are more spacious then ever and that added space leads to more functional areas to illuminate. From a lighting standpoint in the past, it was thought that bathrooms had to have bright lighting with high wattage bulbs and vanity strips so one could properly use the bathroom and see themselves in the best light. Bathrooms still require a certain amount of functional light to support daily activities in the bathroom, such as brushing your teeth, shaving, styling your hair or applying makeup. However today, the technique is to use layers of light to effectively light your bathroom based on the different tasks areas around your bathroom. Bathroom Lighting is now more complex as bathrooms need many levels of lighting with different functions such as showering, bath area, styling and the sink area for daily tasks. A good lighting design requires multiple lighting types and styles for the highest impact.
Task Lighting around Vanity and Mirror
Task lighting is the most important bathroom lighting and consists of vanity lighting and wall sconces to help you with your daily tasks. Vanity Lighting consists or a horizontal illumination, across the top of the mirror. This provides shadow-free lighting to work on your face or hair. The same effect can be achieved with wall sconces on each side of the mirror. Large vanities should be illuminated by multiple light sources. Pendant lighting is also becoming popular on each side of the mirror in modern bathrooms. There are some modern mirrors now that have lighting built into the outer edge of the mirror. Lighted magnifying mirrors are also becoming popular for make-up and facial close-ups mounted to the wall over a vanity. Add a dimmer switch to your vanity lighting for mood or relaxation purposes.
Ambient Lighting for Center of Bathroom
Ambient lighting (general) is typically provided by ceiling fixtures in the center of the ceiling or with recessed lighting. Bathrooms are becoming increasingly larger so general lighting such as recessed lighting is needed to light these larger spaces. Decorative ceiling mount fixtures, mini-chandeliers, decorative exhaust fans with lights are some of the more popular lighting fixtures in today's bathroom to blend with your décor.
Lighting the Shower
Great way to light the shower is with multiple recessed can lights. Make sure they are designed and labeled for wet areas. Small shower stalls may only require one in the center. Many new showers are tiled for the designer look with clear glass instead of privacy glass. This allows homeowners to show the tile work off with lighting.
Lighting the Bath Tub
Lighting over the tub should be bright enough for cleaning purposes or reading product labels around the tub area. You may choose recessed can lighting for general lighting. Ensure it is designed and labeled for use in wet areas. Wall sconces or candle lights can add a romantic or relaxing effect. A great way to add a touch of elegance or romance is with a chandelier. Crystal chandeliers are a very fashionable and can create a great sparkle effect. Add a dimmer switch to change the mood for the spa effect. Many local building codes may prevent lighting hanging over the tub so check your local building codes for any special requirements or to see if it is prohibited.
Accent Lighting and Night LightingTypes of Lighting
Add a lamp on a larger vanity to provide some décor and accent lighting. Low-voltage linear lighting underneath your bathroom vanity is a great accent lighting to light up your bathroom just enough to find your way around in the dark. There are even a few high end faucets that have a night light built into the faucet which light up the water.
Take a look at some of our featured brands for bathroom lighting such as Hudson Valley Lighting, and Progress Lighting with their matching Delta Faucet Finishes. Check out cyrstal chandeliers from Crystorama and chandeliers from World Imports Lighting for the bathroom or over the bath tub.