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Posts Tagged ‘Bath Lighting’

The bathroom is yet another multi-purpose room with its own unique lighting requirements. In the morning, it needs to be bright and functional to help us wake up and get out the door. In the evening, it can take on a more spa-like atmosphere, allowing us a sanctuary for pampering ourselves and easing away the tensions of the day. Just like any other room, a bathroom should be lit in layers that can be adjusted appropriately. But the bathroom’s primary functions have special lighting requirements that should not be overlooked.

Task lighting in the bathroom is key. The sink and mirror should be lit in such a way that faces are lit evenly, without shadows, for makeup application or shaving. To accomplish this, more than one light is generally necessary. A row of bright bulbs above the mirror is a common method for vanity lighting. Even better is to flank the mirror on each side with a light box or a fixture mounted at eye level.

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Today’s bathroom decorating strategies unpack the word “bathroom” and reset the “room” part in capital letters. Gone are the banks of movie-star mirror lights, and exiting right behind them are the hard-edged European bath-as-lab fixtures that delighted designers within recent memory.

Bathroom design responds to two recent trends in overall design: the amenities of a gracious older house and concerns about water and other energy conservation. The impacts on bathroom lighting are clear and worth noting.

New designs emphasize area-definition in larger-than-before bathrooms. Toilet and bidet (find at, twin sinks, shower and/or tub are screened from each other, although partitions are frequently translucent or transparent. Daylight is incorporated into many bathroom designs—windows over the tub or in a dressing-area, high windows over more private areas, and skylights in abundance. Large mirrors figure strongly in these designs, no longer restricted to the wall medicine-cabinet (think free-standing instead). Increased natural light affects lighting-design, and therefore new-home owners need to consider the differing light-needs of day and night.

As bathrooms become re-defined, lines blur between fixtures used there and in other rooms. Current design magazines suggest, in addition to the expected translucent ceiling fixtures used for years, recessed soffit-lighting, track-lighting, sconces on each side of the larger mirror, pendant ceiling fixtures and even the occasional small chandelier. As used to be the case in some old American houses, and remains the case in some old European ones, the bathroom becomes a room in which one bathes, with other functions given space in an adjoining or nearby room. New bathrooms can provide interesting areas of direct and reflected light, reflections being warm and soft, more similar to other rooms in the house than in the past.

Those updating a small windowless bathroom can still benefit from the wide variety of creative bathroom-lighting solutions currently available. Sealed lights for showers can be used in either ceilings or walls. Recessed lighting can be installed in ceilings, soffits, or walls, surrounding the vanity area with a halo of light, ranging from soft and warm to brilliant and intense. Larger mirror areas increase reflection and, this year, practically demand sconces on each side. Since they are larger than in the past and can deliver more light, consider placement of sconces carefully, so that they are high enough to broadcast light but not so high as to create the facial-shadows often caused by overhead lighting.

Changing the quality of light in a small bathroom also makes an excellent update. Replace old incandescent bulbs with energy-saving compact fluorescents or other enhanced- or full-spectrum light-bulbs to bring a stronger “daylight” feel to bathroom light. Consider adding a small lamp to provide the old-fashioned glow of a room-where-one-bathes.

The biggest message in bathroom lighting today is flexibility. Just as one can change to mood or appearance of other rooms with flexible lighting, similar atmospheric chances are welcome in the bathroom. Whether your bathroom accommodates Grandma’s chestnut dresser and an oriental rug or just one person, bring your individuality to lighting the room. A dimmer switch can enhance the relaxing quiet of a long soak in the tub. Lights in the shower provide adequate illumination to shave—at last! Love to read in the tub? Consider tiny track lights that let you luxuriate in both suds and a best-seller.

The bathroom is more than just another room in the house. Treat it with the enthusiasm and creativity that makes the rest of your home so attractive and welcoming.

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