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What to remember before styling up your bathroom lighting

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan
Modern bathroom by Dessiner Interior Architectural Modern
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Nobody ever said that it would be easy giving a bathroom a new look. Sure, it can be fun sifting through various colours for the textiles or looking at some wallpaper options and new faucet designs, but remember that practicality is key. And more so when it comes to your bathroom lighting. 

Bathroom lighting should be bright enough so one can easily apply make-up and shave, but dim enough to relax in a bubble bath without having to squint. Different forms of lighting are the perfect way to completely transform the look and feel of a bathroom, taking it from bright and functional to a softly lit, spa-like space. Yes, trust us when we say that even just changing your lighting is a sure-fire way of changing your entire bathroom – ask any professional bathroom designer and interior designer/decorator

So, what must we keep in mind?

1. The different functions of bathroom lighting

House Milne - Main Bathroom Modern bathroom by Hugo Hamity Architects Modern
Hugo Hamity Architects

House Milne—Main Bathroom

Hugo Hamity Architects

Natural lighting must contribute at least 10% of your bathroom’s general light. For the rest, there are various types of light fittings that can complement the amount of sunshine streaming indoors, as well as accomplish different tasks:

• Ambient lighting is for all-over illumination. Look at wall- or ceiling-mounted fixtures, plus windows and skylights to take care of this. 

• Task lighting is needed for areas dedicated to specific functions, like the mirror for shaving and applying make-up. 

• Accent lighting can be used to create specific effects and highlight architectural details or other interesting aesthetic pieces in a room. 

• Decorative lighting is for creating certain moods, setting an ambience, and complementing the overall design/décor of the space. 

2. The different types of bathroom lighting

• Fluorescent lights, including CFLs (compact fluorescent lights) are energy efficient, longer-lasting (they can last as much as 10 times longer than incandescent or halogen bulbs), and more affordable than other options. The main objective to this option, however, is that they tend to flicker or hum and don’t produce a visually flattering ambience. But both objections can easily be overcome by picking bulbs that use a high-frequency electronic ballast to eliminate the hum or flicker. CFLs are available in warm and cool white light, not to mention a wealth of sizes and shapes. What you pick depends on what function you need, for instance you can go with cool white light for task lighting and warm light for decorative / accent lighting. 

• Halogen light ensures a crisp, white light. Even though low-voltage options are available, which makes them a good option in terms of energy efficiency, they can be more expensive to replace. 

• LED lighting is definitely the greenest option for the future. However, at this early stage, the most budget-friendly option is LED downlighters. For versatility, LEDs are also available in warm or cool white colours. 

3. The different styles of bathroom lighting

Thanks to expert lighting designers, there exists a world of bathroom light fittings that can be used to complement a variety of different bathroom styles. Some options include:

• Wall lights usually have an enclosed glass shade or diffuser, and are available in many styles and colours – that means they’re suitable for any design from traditional to modern. 

• Recessed lights can be placed in the wall, ceiling or floor. If they’re recessed into your ceiling, these lights can ensure a fixed beam of light or have a moveable eyeball effect which can highlight specific areas. 

• Spot lights are perfect for creating pools of concentrated light.

• One of the most popular lighting styles used for contemporary and modern spaces is downlighters. These fittings are subtle, functional, and create a focused beam of light that can be angled at different degrees. 

• Uplighters are perfect for enhancing architectural features. The ceiling reflects the beam of light and disbands it, meaning less glare and shadows. The light’s shade is often a semi-transparent material like opaque glass which ensures a soft, subtle light.  

4. Bathroom lighting ideas: side-mounted sconces

Whether you opt for using sconces on either side of a mirror or mounting them directly onto your mirror with shades placed at eye-level, remember the following: 

• Mount the back-plate of a vertical, tube-shaped fixture at eye-level

• The shade opening of glass downlighters must be directly below eye-level

• The shade opening of glass uplights must be just above eye-level

• If your bathroom mirror is above the sink, mount the fixtures just a few centimetres on either side of the mirror, as close to your face as possible. 

5. Bathroom lighting ideas: Stick to similar finishes

A Bathroom of Royal Splendour Classic style bathroom by Spegash Interiors Classic
Spegash Interiors

A Bathroom of Royal Splendour

Spegash Interiors

Nobody will force you to choose the same style for your wall sconces and overhead fixtures; however, ensure they are in the same finish line to have visual consistency in your bathroom’s overall design. 

6. Bathroom lighting ideas: Go with brass or chrome for versatility

Brass or chrome are the most flexible in terms of design, as they complement other bath accessories much easier. 

However, for a regal look, go big with some golden trims and finishes like this super deluxe bathroom has done!

7. Bathroom lighting ideas: Size is important

You don’t want an oversized chandelier to make your bathroom seem cramped. Likewise, you don’t want a too-tiny pendant to get lost in your bathroom. 

Remember that the right fixture can make a style statement and set the tone for the bathroom's design.

8. Bathroom lighting ideas: Pendants are perfect alternatives

Pendants are beautiful alternatives to sconces, as they are elegant options for a vanity, but can also function perfectly as ambient or accent lighting if the need calls for it. 

Taking other must-have features into account, let’s see these 6 creative ways to design your bathroom like a pro.

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