Bathroom Remodel: How to Make the Most of Your Bathroom Lighting


There are few places in the home where lighting is more important than the bathroom.  If you have a small bathroom with no windows, you need good lighting to make it feel brighter. If you use the bathroom to get ready every day, you need the right kind of lighting so that you can actually see what you are doing.  You need the right kind of lighting to apply makeup but you also need lighting that is relaxing and subdued so that you do not shock your system in the morning.  In essence, it is ideal to have multiple lighting options in a bathroom so that you can select your lighting based on your primary reason for being in the bathroom.

Bathroom Lighting Location

The first thing to consider is where you will place your light fixtures.  If you are getting ready in the bathroom you do not want to have just overhead lighting because you will not be able to see your face.  It is ideal to have both overhead can lighting or a light fixture, as well as a light fixture on the wall either above or around the mirror in some capacity.  This Old House explains the importance of lighting location in the bathroom, “Vanity lighting gets top consideration because these fixtures work the hardest to illuminate the head and face for grooming. The most common mistake people make is putting recessed ceiling fixtures directly over the mirror. These cast shadows on the face, making daily grooming rituals more difficult.Vertical fixtures or sconces mounted on either side of the mirror are best for casting an even light across the face.But given the size and positioning of some vanity mirrors, sidelights can be impractical (mounting them directly to the mirror is always an option, but at greater planning and cost). Only then do I suggest a fixture for over the mirror. It should be placed 75 to 80 inches above the floor and, like all vanity lighting, contain at least 150 watts — ideally spread over a fixture that’s at least 24 inches long so that the light will wash evenly over the hair and face.”

Bathroom Lighting Levels

In an ideal scenario, you would have your lighting on a dimmer or have multiple lighting options/lighting scenes to select from so that you choose the right lighting based on the time of day and the particular reason you are in the bathroom.  Forbes explains what type of lighting levels are best for bathrooms, “‘In the master or guest bathrooms, use fixtures that provide 75 to 100 watts’ worth of illumination,’ Whitehead recommends. ‘You can get these wattage equivalents in a 24- to 26-watt compact fluorescent or 20- to 25-watt LED.’ Get the lowdown on energy-efficient LEDs…Putting task lighting on a dimmer will allow your eyes to adjust first thing in the morning; it will also help you wind down at night…Task lights in powder rooms can have much less wattage (think 45-watt range), as this is not a space where anyone will be performing the morning ritual. Lower wattage provides a softer, relaxing ambiance for guests.”

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