What’s the secret to a great bathroom? You may be surprised to hear that one of the answers is good lighting design.
In an intimate space that’s used on a daily basis, getting the right lighting solution is as important as the colour scheme and sanitaryware, fixtures and fittings.
Ask any interior designer and they’ll tell you that successful lighting is achieved by using a layered approach, addressing each function individually while creating a coherent whole.
From your morning ablutions to unwinding at the end of a hard day’s work, your bathroom lighting should enhance everything you do while creating the right ambience to do it in.
Here are some useful ideas to help you find the best lighting design for your bathroom:
Make a plan
You’ve heard of the 5 Ps – proper preparation prevents poor performance – so resist the temptation to rush off to the nearest lighting emporium just yet. Instead, keep a cool head and make a plan.
Think about the times of day that you use your bathroom, where the windows are and which way they face, and how much natural light gets in. Next, consider the ambience you wish to create and any features you want to draw attention to – perhaps a feature clawfoot bath or an interesting architectural detail in the room.
Working together with your bathroom designer, look at the floorplan and work out the location and dimensions of doors, windows and sanitaryware before you position ceiling and wall lights and switches.
Maximise natural light
In any bathroom, it’s important to make the most of the amount of natural daylight coming in, while maintaining your privacy in such an intimate space. Consider opaque or frosted glass, or decorative textured glass which can allow up to 84% of outside light through while keeping your dignity safe from prying eyes.
Make sure no furniture, window dressings, pot plants or general bathroom clutter obscures the window and make sure you keep your windows clean and sparkling at all times.
A clever design trick is to use reflective surfaces that help to bounce the light around the room. Mirrors and accessories, tiles, stainless steel, glass and shiny ceramic finishes can all be employed to great effect in your bathroom design to help create the right light quality.
Use layered lighting
Whatever the size of your bathroom, the overall design and feel of the room will always be improved by installing multiple lighting options. Consider a combination of downlighters, task lighting, accent spotlighting and recessed lights to create a coherent lighting scheme that works for daytime, night time and mood lighting.
Downlighters provide a good level of general, ambient light that’s bright enough for everyday use. Avoid placing them in the middle of the ceiling or directly above a vanity unit or mirror, as they will cast shadows where you don’t want them.
Use downlighters to highlight features such as designer heated towel rails or statement wallpaper, and perhaps consider a gorgeous bathroom chandelier for impact in a high ceilinged bathroom.
Task lighting is needed to provide good visibility while minimising eye strain – important for jobs such as shaving or putting on make-up. Installing wall lights at eye level either side of the mirror above the washbasin is the best way to avoid shadows.
Accent lighting is used to enhance the ambience and highlight design details. In a bathroom, fitting LED strips under wall mounted cabinets, along the plinth of the bath or in alcoves can draw the eye to a particular area and add interest. Use dimmers for added versatility.
Think bathroom safety
Bathroom are wet environments that, in combination with mains power, can present a danger to life. That’s why all bathroom lighting has to adhere to strict safety regulations, using different zones and IP (ingress protection) ratings that determine the level of protection from moisture required for lighting products that are safe to use. Any lights used in a bathroom environment should have an IP rating of at least IP44.
Zone 0 is on the inside of the bath or shower. Suitable light fittings must be totally immersion proof and have an IP rating of at least IP67.
Zone 1 covers the area just above the shower or bath up to 2.25m in height. IP65 rated lighting products should be used to ensure maximum safety.
Zone 2 covers the area up to 60cm around the perimeter of the bath and/or washbasin, requiring light fittings that are at least IP44 rated.
LED energy lighting for maximum style
With the vast variety of lighting solutions available in the marketplace, you can now use LED lighting for your bathroom as long as the products are certified bathroom safe (see above). LED lights don’t produce any heat and can last for as long as 100,000 hours or 25 years, significantly reducing your energy usage.
Look out for built-in LEDs in bathroom furniture and vanity mirrors, even baths and showers. In a contemporary bathroom, how about introducing coloured lights, or colour changing LED lighting – even an LED rainfall showerhead to make full use of the benefits of chromotherapy?
Not only is the choice of LED bathroom lights truly incredible, their clever use allows you to create a unique look that goes beyond simple wall and ceiling lights.
From basins and bathtubs that incorporate LED lights in their design to tap units where the colour changes to reflect the water temperature, the only limit is your imagination.