Great lighting is important in every room in the house, but it plays a particularly vital role in a bathroom. Choose the wrong bulb and you wind up looking jaundiced as you put on your makeup; place a fixture in the wrong spot and you’re shaving in the shadows. You want a few different sources of lighting to make the room pretty but also functional. What lights and where? Here are some tips that may help!
Maximize natural light: nothing beats natural daylight for brightening your mood and setting the circadian rhythms that regulate wake/sleep cycles. There’s a huge and growing body of scientific literature around this phenomenon. That’s why it’s ideal to design a bathroom with as much natural light as possible. Make sure window treatments let the light pour in. If you’re designing a new home or renovating, the best place to put a bathroom is facing north: light from a northern exposure is indirect, creating a soft, diffused light. When choosing fixtures for a bathroom, prefer four-inch recessed can lights overhead, which have a clean look. Pair an overhead fixture with sconces alongside or above the mirror to make the reflection more flattering. Choose the warmest light possible, going for 2700K LEDs, for example.
Many homeowners like the luxury feel that a chandelier or pendant fixture can bring to a space. To prevent code issues, make sure that the fixture is at least 3 feet from the tub and 7 feet or more above the high-water level. In addition, put it on its own switch, with a dimmer.
The best possible lighting for activities in front of the bathroom mirror comes from fixtures mounted on either side roughly at the user’s eye level. This leaves no part of the face in shadow, as happens with an overhead fixture. If the mirror wall isn’t an option, move the light fixtures to the side walls, or hang pendants from the ceiling; just try to get the light to either side where it will do the most good.
Bathing Space Lights
Building codes are very strict about lights over tubs and whirlpools. There can be no open or hanging fixtures within 8 feet above the tub, nor for another 3 feet in front of it. Since most bathroom ceilings aren’t more than 8 feet tall, this generally precludes having open or hanging lights above tubs.
There are any number of very bright, open shower trim lights available, which means you can put in cans that punch light down and dim to the desired level, instead of struggling to see with the standard-for-years lensed 60-watt maximum cans.