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How to select Bathroom Lighting PDF Print E-mail

Tuesday, 16 November 2010 05:30

When it comes to bathroom decor, the brightest ideas depend on light, or more appropriately, lights. Today, a well-lit bathroom depends on a savvy lighting mix.

Think of lighting the bathroom the same way as creating the perfect ensemble. "You want everything to coordinate so that anyone walking in views the room as a whole. Everything should work together as opposed to supporting one astonishing fixture."

Good lighting is essential for people to see themselves in a complimentary light. Whether we are putting on makeup or combing our hair, we want a positive view of ourselves, which can only be accomplished by using the right light source.

Like the rest of the house, the bathroom reflects consumer's changing lifestyles. More spacious and multifunctional, these once utilitarian water closets have become glamour havens -- private retreats designed for relaxation, escape and self-indulgence.

The right lighting can make a bathroom much more gracious. Lighting is an inexpensive way to make the bathroom shine. There's a great opportunity to match the finish of the plumbing accessories with the light fixtures. There is a huge array of styles in the market -- from very ornate poly-resin cast products to sleek satin nickel fixtures with opal matte glass in a variety of shapes and sizes.

The bathroom is the part of the house with the densest assortment of materials and finishes. You have wall tile, floor tile, shower tile, faucet hardware, towel bars, wallpaper and paint all in a space often smaller than 100 square feet.

Whether built new or recently remodeled, today's more complex bathrooms demand intricate lighting solutions. Task lighting must be bright enough to do its job, but work well with indirect accent lighting designed to soften the room's ambience by providing a warm glow. Lighting fixtures and finishes must complement, rather than compete with plumbing accessories, tile, paint and wallpaper.

When we look at the amount of money that people invest in building or renovating bathrooms, a proper lighting plan has the potential to deliver dramatic results, costs only a small fraction of the project budget, and yet it is often lacking or overlooked.

While fixtures and finishes range in design from sleek and clean to very ornate, contemporary ranks as the top trend in bathroom design. While contemporary still makes up a very small percentage of home decor nationwide, people seem to feel most comfortable with contemporary bathrooms -- even if it doesn't necessarily represent the overall style throughout their home.

Chrome is probably one of the most popular bathroom finishes. Chrome and brushed chrome continue as important finishes. Chrome coordinates best with mirrors, which are essential in any bathroom. While some take a thoroughly modern approach to bathroom lighting, others warm up to other options. We are seeing the influx of popular home decor materials like iron and vintage glass being used to make a warmer design statement. This is a greater continuity to what is happening throughout the home at large.

New technology has added options as well. Fiber optics, with its remote light source, can create twinkling star effects when inset into bathroom ceilings. Halogen bulbs with their variety of sizes allow manufacturers to design more ornate light fixtures. Unusual light sources like wall sconces, sky lights, and lamps perched on a table, vanity or bathroom island provide an unexpected touch. Shower lights brighten up enclosed stalls. Reading lamps by the toilet provide more focused light. Single sconces on either side of the mirror remain popular.

To be most effective, begin your bathroom lighting scheme at the vanity with the lights that do the most work. These lights must be bright enough so you can see to shave or apply makeup, yet soft enough to compliment facial features. Fixtures located on each side of the mirror should be set at eye level to be most effective. Theatrical-style lighting stripped along the sides and across the top of the mirror also do a good job.

Bulb selection is as important as choosing and placing the right fixture. For lighting vanity areas, try colored or coated bulbs designed to enhance facial features. Look for bath fixtures that light down so the heat dissipates easier from the sockets and creates a longer life for all bulbs. Recessed or canned lighting, however, is not the most ideal as a bathroom's main or only lighting source as it casts shadows across the face.

When remodeling or building a bathroom, don't be convinced that recessed lighting alone will be adequate. You won't be happy unless you have other light sources to fill in the gaps. It's important to layer the light.

Layers of light also reduce glare, important to our aging population. As the eye ages, glare becomes a bigger problem. The eye needs more light to see well as the aging eye lens yellows and thickens. By 55 years old, you need twice as much light to see as you did when you were 20."

To further reduce glare, opt for frosted white bulbs, rather than clear models and avoid fixtures with exposed bulbs.

Check with local building inspectors about electrical codes before installing any new lighting. Fixtures used in wet areas must be approved for such a specific use. Make sure that your lamps are UL rated for damp locations insuring safety.

Sometimes there are restrictions on the placement of various types of lighting fixtures. Portable lamps, for example, should not be put near a sink or tub because of the possibility that it might fall into the water and electrocute you.

Allow for shelves for candles in your bathroom design. There is nothing quite like romantic lighting in a bathroom to get you and your partner in the mood.

Finally, don't worry about having too much light, note the experts. "You can never have too much light in the bathroom," says Phillips. "It's easy to install a dimmer control to reduce the amount of light to create a mood."

Ten Ways to Light Up Your Bath

When coordinating bathroom lighting, combine fashion with function to make your fixtures supply ample amounts of light. The American Lighting Association suggests you check with the professionals at lighting stores and showrooms for the broadest range of styles and knowledge.

1. Shower Rays of Light: Lighting in the shower stall should be bright enough to help avoid spills while making shaving and shampooing easier. Choose light fixtures designed for use in wet areas. Some new designer showers even include lighting effects.

2. Bath Lighting Tips: Tubs, like showers, need good general light, which can be provided by a recessed fixture. To avoid glare, aim the light's beam at the outside edge of the tub. High end lighting also gives the opportunity to have the water change colour.

3. Window Dressing: Windows provide natural light to supplement or replace the electric options, particularly during the day.

4. Night Lighting: Create a nightlight by illuminating the floor in the space below vanities and cabinets with a linear lighting system.

5. Get Glowing: Indirect (or cove) lighting with its hidden light source is purely aesthetic, adding a soft, warm glow to the bathroom.

6. Mirror, Mirror: Good mirror lighting, like that provided by warm fluorescent vertical wall sconces, will provide the even facial illumination necessary for eliminating dark circles and shadows.

7. Vanity illuminations: A halogen light above the vanity provides cross illumination when used in conjunction with wall sconces.

8. Table Topper: Table lamps add a soft, human touch to bathrooms. Display them away from water sources -- on tables, vanities, or multipurpose bathroom islands found in larger homes.

9. Ceiling Fixture: A decorative light fixture suspended from the ceiling provides an elegant touch while adding extra light.

10. Your toilet in lights: Focused flood or halogen fixtures over the toilet provide good lighting for reading.

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