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How to Light up a Bathroom


Most bathrooms are in need of a little lighting assistance

Bathrooms are often victims of poor lighting. You may find yourself bending further over the sink to shave or apply makeup. Or perhaps you get in your car, check the rearview mirror, and see that your face is a mess that looked perfect indoors.

What is lacking in a poorly lit bathroom is a combination of general and task lighting. You need the assistance of overhead and backlighting from a general source working with the types of evenly-distributed, focused lighting that will help with the up-close work.

Before you call an electrician and start a new or expanded installation, there are many ways to adjust your indirect lighting sources - and they don't require a wiring expert. If your bathroom has dark walls or fixtures, think about lightening those first. Dark surfaces absorb light, stealing it away from your activities. A new coat of white or light paint will work wonders.

Increase the size of the mirror over the sink and add a second mirror on another wall. The reflection will also make light more reflective and bright.

One or two overhead lights is essential in a larger bathroom. An infrared heating element is nice, here, too. It may not be necessary in a small room, however, as it will heat up in a hurry and you'll be roasted before you can get out of the shower. Skylights are nice, but should not be considered a replacement for general lighting. Nighttime and cloudy days eliminate that.

If you plan to add additional lighting in the shower area, make sure it is vapor proof. If recessed, it will state "wet-location recessed."

Task lighting is most generally attached to the wall or cabinets over your sink. A strip of vanity lights on each side of the mirror will work in harmony with general overhead lighting to give you the best and most even conditions. Opt for white globes, as the clear types can create harsh shadows. Incandescent bulbs will provide the cleanest lighting although with a slight yellowish tone. If you choose compact fluorescents, make sure you purchase the warm, white bulbs, which will give you better overall tone. You may also elect to mount an additional light bar over the mirror for a triple burst of task lighting.

Accent lighting is often ignored in a master or guest bathroom, but it can soften the effect of bright colors and bulbs. Often, a dimmer switch for general overhead lighting will be the solution.

A powder room is the perfect place for accent lighting, especially if you entertain often. This is definitely the place to create a softened mood as most guests won't require a bright, focused light..

An experienced do-it-yourselfer can handle many types of lighting installations and exerts at your local home improvement store can offer additional advice. However, if you are in doubt about your skills, contact a professional to assess the job.

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