Bathroom Lighting Design

The lighting in your bathroom is very important. It is used for shaving, make-up applications, washing, tweezing, and many more activities that need a well lit space. In addition to these task’s that need proper lighting, a bathroom is also a retreat and a place to relax and unwind. A bathroom requires a complete and layered lighting scheme in order to create your desired effect.

In order to get your desired lighting effect, apply your lighting in various layers.
These layers of lighting consist of:

  • Ambient lighting
  • Task lighting
  • Accent lighting.

If possible, it is nice to have these lights on separate dimmer switches in order to better control each light effect individually. For instance, if a specific activity like shaving requires a lot of light, you would want your task lighting and overhead lighting at a strength that enables you to see clearly. However, if you want to soak in your tub and unwind from the day’s stress, you may want to only have your ambient lighting lit. Although your lighting scheme will be personalized to fit your needs, here are some good rules to follow.

Ambient Lighting
Lighting for the overall space generally comes from the ceiling. You can use recessed lights or a decorative fixture in order to achieve this effect. If the fixture has a shade or a diffuser, this will hide the bulb and reduce the glare. Be careful, however, to make sure that an adequate amount of light will still get through in order to properly light the room.

Task Lighting:
The task lighting by the sink area in the bathroom is one of the most important types of lighting. This area is where most activities that require strong light are performed. The best type of lighting for this purpose is a fixture that is placed at about eye level on the sides of the vanity mirror. Sconces work great for this type of lighting placement. An elongated and narrow fixture running vertically on the wall is good since it spreads the light more evenly on the face as opposed to a more directional light fixture which will cast too much of a direct spot light. If you have a particularly large vanity mirror, (more then 4’0” in width) you may need additional light at the top of the mirror. This type of fixture should have a diffuser or shade at the bottom in order to reduce the glare and shadows on your face. Just as with the ambient lighting, remember to make sure that enough light gets through the shade in order to serve as adequate task lighting.

Accent Lighting
Accent lighting in a bathroom is used the same as in any other place in the home. This purpose is to illuminate or highlight a particular detail or area. For example, in a bathroom you may have interesting tile work on a shower wall. In this case, you may want to add a directional recessed light in the ceiling in order to draw attention to this back area and ‘wash’ the wall with light. Maybe you have some shelving or a niche in the wall that holds a few display items. This can also get a sconce or a fixture over it that accents this area. Accent lighting is a nice way to bring in another layer into the lighting scheme of your bathroom.

All these various layers of lighting can be mixed to create a particular look or setting depending on your preference at that time. It is a good idea to keep these different areas on separate dimmer switches, this way you can pick and choose which lights you want on at certain times, and whether you want them at full strength or dimmed. Creating a certain mood in your bathroom can inexpensively enhance your bathroom experience. Make sure to consult with your electrician regarding the proper codes regarding electricity and water in order to have a bathroom that is safe for your enjoyment.