My condo bathroom is a study in bathroom lighting gone wrong. The builders put a four bulb bathroom light fixture directly over the sink and the glare of the unshaded bulbs is harsh and unflattering. Though there are plenty of watts, they’re all on the left side of the room, which means it’s difficult to tell if that’s dirt or a shadow on my foot in the shower on the opposite side.
Why is it so hard to see in what someone considered a well-lit bathroom?
It comes down to a few factors: lighting areas, incorrect light fixture selection, and user error when selecting the proper light bulbs.
1. Bathroom Lighting Areas
Think of your bathroom in terms of tasks. You wash your hands at the sink, comb your hair, apply makeup, or shave at the mirror (more than likely right above the sink). You shower or bathe in the tub or shower stall. If you have a large or fancy bathroom, you may even have a separate vanity area for hair and makeup tasks.
Each of these bathroom lighting areas has a requirement for lighting that a single fixture in the room cannot address.
The answer? Split up your bathroom lighting to address each task area as well as general lighting. You want multiple light fixtures and switches to control them individually.
2. Selecting the right bathroom lighting
Start with general, ambient light. This is the base layer of light that brightens the entire room and bounces light off of the ceiling. Think “daylight” when selecting this fixture – it’s all about even, gentle light.
Now, add task lights.
When it comes to your bathroom mirror, if possible, skip the single fixture above the mirror and opt for a pair of fixtures on either side. These two lights provide cross-illumination and eliminate shadows. If you have a tricky vanity area that is in a corner, like I do, you can get bathroom light fixtures that install directly on your mirror.
Don’t forget the light fixture in your shower area. Recessed light fixtures with a glass lenses are a good choice, just make sure you purchase appropriate water-proof bathroom light fixtures!
Finally, add accent lighting to draw attention to art, beautiful tile, or a unique sink.
3. Selecting proper light bulbs
Using the right light bulbs in your bathroom light fixtures makes a huge difference. The word “daylight” comes up here again: select bulbs that mimic daylight for the best representation of colours when you stand in front of the mirror.
Here’s the low-down on types of light bulbs:
- Incandescent bulbs: select “warm white” or “cool white” or a color temperature between 2700K and 3000K.
- Compact Fluorescent bulbs: select bulbs with a Color Rendering Index (CRI) of 90 or above for daylight-like representation of colours or a color temperature between 2700K and 3000K.
- LEDs: select a CRI of 90 or above and color temperature of 2700K to 3000K.
The pair of task lights by the mirror should be 75 watts each to provide the shadow-free lighting. If you’re stuck with the overhead light at the mirror, the fixture should provide 150 watts and spread light across the entire area.
You might find all of this light a bit startling at the beginning and end of your day – dimmer switches will let you customize the intensity of your bathroom lighting while still giving you the bright task lights you need when preparing for your day.
If you’re looking for new bathroom lighting in Toronto, don’t forget to come visit Lando Lighting Galleries! We have 30,000 square feet of light fixtures and unbeatable prices!