There are three or four basic types of lighting that should work together to light any room, including a bathroom. They are task lighting, general lighting, accent lighting and lighting that is sometimes called decorative lighting or “sparkle lighting”. A good lighting plan combines at least the first three types and sometimes all four types of lighting. This article will focus only on the task lighting in a bathroom. In the bathroom, especially around the vanity mirrors, task lighting is critical. Task lighting can assist in performing specific tasks such as applying makeup, shaving, dressing a wound, or performing a manicure.
Tip #1: It is strongly recommended that good task lighting be installed either above the vanity mirror located near the sink or on both sides of the mirror. This is absolutely critical for providing good bathroom task lighting.
Tip #2: It is recommended that the vanity light fixtures installed around the vanity mirror be incandescent or halogen fixtures because this will allow you to easily control the brightness of these fixtures with a dimmer.
Tip #3: Make certain that the vanity light fixtures you select provide more than enough light. One of the simplest techniques that you can use to ensure that you will always have enough light is to “over light” the space and then use dimmers to control the amount of light that you want or need at any given moment.
Tip #4: It is recommended that special neodymium light bulbs be used in the vanity fixtures since they provide excellent light that very closely simulates sunlight. A neodymium light bulb is an incandescent light bulb that has a slight bluish tint to it. The bluish tint, created by a thin coating of neodymium inside the glass envelope, will cause the light bulb to provide less yellowish light like a standard incandescent light bulb and, therefore, be more like the sun.
Tip #5: Recessed downlights should not be used to light your face while standing at a mirror because the light coming from these fixtures will cause too many shadows on your face. Recessed downlights can be used in other parts of the bathroom for general lighting but not for task lighting at the vanity mirror.
Tip #6: Consider installing a small lit concave mirror near the main vanity mirror. The concave curvature of the mirror will magnify what you see in the mirror and the additional light will help improve the lighting for special tasks such as shaving or applying makeup.
Tip #7: An area of bathroom lighting that is often overlooked is the shower, tub, or Jacuzzi. It is suggested that one or two recessed downlights with special shower trims be used to illuminate each of these areas. If the bathroom is already finished, a remodel, recessed housing can be used for this purpose. A shower trim, with a glass diffuser and a special gasket, should be used in these areas. You may want to consider selecting a shower trim with a domed glass diffuser because this shape often gives the most uniform distribution of light.
Always remember that light is the first element of design; without it there is no color, form, or texture.