Author Bio: Lisa Wetherell runs the blog Lighting House – where she writes about her knowledge gained from 10 years of industry experience in the lighting and interior design field. To learn more about how lighting can improve your space, you can follow her blog.

Creating the perfect bathroom atmosphere can make a world of difference to your mood on a daily basis. There are many ways to do this, but bathroom lighting is one of the most important. No amount of beautiful furniture and accessories will enhance the atmosphere if the lighting isn’t right. However, not everybody is blessed with large windows that allow in plenty of natural light, so the obvious solution is to create ambience artificially.

Knowing where to start is another matter, when it comes to creating the perfect lighting setup. There are times when you might want a totally different atmosphere. For example, while doing some leisurely unwinding in the bath after a stressful day you might prefer low lights; conversely, when trying to wake up and motivate yourself for a busy day, a gleaming bright bathroom would work wonders.

The answer to versatile lighting is fixtures and layers. Below are some tips on how you can transform your bathroom into a welcoming room via functional yet ambient lighting:

  1. Closely imitate natural light
    The more similar to daylight your lighting is, the more accurate a representation of your image you will get. When we look in a mirror, we tend to assume that what is reflected back is accurate. As mentioned above, inappropriate lighting can cast shadows that lead to an unflattering image – one that we might carry around with us for the rest of the day! For some, poor lighting could be contributing to poor self confidence, so getting these details right can make a big difference to self image.

    When you are sure that your lighting is close to daylight you can assume that your reflection is represented accurately, from the colour of your clothes, skin and hair to the dimensions of your face and body!

  2. Use dimmers
    Dimmers are a godsend in most rooms, but this is especially true in the bathroom. Dimmers are particular helpful in the area where your bathtub sits, as they are one of the easiest methods of quickly changing the atmosphere to suit your mood. It is safe to say that nobody prefers glaring bright lights beaming down on them while they’re trying to relax in the bath.

    The standard dimming is known as ‘phase dimming’, but it’s now also possible to install digital dimmers if you prefer state-of-the-art lighting tech. Note that digital dimmers can be trickier to install in older buildings, as they need two extra dimming cables.

  3. Create ambient light
    For the perfect bathroom lighting, you will need to aim for a mix of ambient and task lighting (we’ll get to the latter below). You can think of ambient light as ‘fill’ light, as its job is to fill the space with light rather than highlight particular areas. To create ambient light you can use down lights; you might want to consider cove lighting (recessed lighting) too, as this limits glare by hiding the fixture.

    It’s a great way to create indirect lighting and works very well in rooms with high ceilings or cantilever designs such as beams. Pendants with attractive shades are also a good way of creating ambience and decorative light. Lastly, if you have opted for dimmers, recessed cans on these will go a long way to creating ambient, mood-dependent lighting.

  4. Get your task lighting right
    Task lighting is an absolute necessity if you want to achieve the perfect bathroom atmosphere. Task lighting is the concentrated lighting that provides greater illumination and helps you to see things in more detail. 

    It is important to get the wattage right, so aim for between 75 and 100 watts in your fixtures (or wattage equivalents in a 24 to 26 watt compact fluorescent/20 to 25 watt LED). You might also want to put dimmers on your task lighting fittings to give your eyes a chance to get used to the light when you’ve just woken up.

    The brighter lighting works best in master bathrooms but if you’ve got smaller bathrooms you can opt for a lower wattage (e.g. 45 watts) that should create sufficient ambience for any visitors.

  5. Position your lights carefully
    It is a good idea to try to spread the lighting as evenly as you can throughout the bathroom. For instance, you would want light up the bath and shower areas and the vanity area equally. You can also use large mirrors to complement and direct the lighting: by placing a large mirror in the vanity area and over the bathtub, all of the light layering is reflected and this maximizes your lighting efforts.

    In the vanity area you will want to have light falling on both sides of your face, as singular lighting can create shadows; this leads to either difficulty in seeing your true image. By putting lights on the wall at eye level on either side of your mirror, you’ll eliminate those troublesome shadows and make shaving or make up application so much easier.

    Wall sconces are useful around large mirrors, but avoid putting a light above the mirror – unless it is a single point light and accompanied by lights on either side. If you are planning to use recessed lighting on the ceiling, again, avoid placing one above your vanity mirror; that would illuminate the forehead while casting shadows under the eyes, nose and chin.

  6. Use accent lighting to highlight features
    Those who want to enhance their bathrooms with artwork, ornaments and decorative furniture items will need to focus on accent lighting to do them justice. Again, recessed lights that focus on these items work well.

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