A bathroom with no windows or natural light can be uninviting or too heavily lit from a single source making it uninteresting. It’s important that during the day we want the lighting to boost the illumination to mimic a sunny day as much as possible, whilst retaining a balanced and beautifully lit space.
Our 10 quick tips on how this can be done has come from over 20 years of design experience with quick to understand pro ideas, techniques and products that will keep your bathroom bright and inviting.
Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
The first way you can light your bathroom is by mimicking natural daylight. The best way to do this is to use a skylight or even a fake backlit window. These will create the same soft, natural lighting that you see outside and fool you into thinking some daylight is coming into the room.
Another way to light your bathroom is by reflecting artificial light off of a wall. This will bounce the light around generally as natural daylight does, opening up the feeling of the space as the walls seem to push out as they are lit. The best walls for this are ones with white tiles, which reflect any type of light really well.
A very effective technique is to hide a strip of light within the ceiling and wash the light downwards down the wall and onto the floor, as if natural light is streaming down from a hidden window.
Do not make the mistake of adding more light fixtures to compensate for the lack of light in the day but maximise the potential of the ones placed correctly. You need each part of the lighting design of your room to fulfil it’s potential so avoid weak light sources.
The color temperature of the light is just as important as the brightness. Low, warm lighting in a bathroom is best for relaxation and can be achieved by using 2700K LED lamps or candle lights – which also have a low, warm glow. For the daytime we need bright, cooler lighting and for that we need to use LED lamps with nothing lower than 3000K. So consider how the room will be used and choose a circuit of light to be dedicated to that use.
Wall lights that use a colored glass reduce the feeling of brightness and metal shades will reduce the output of light. Glass rod wall lights look decorative and interesting whilst maintaining the lumen levels by allowing plenty of the light through and out into the room.
It’s important not to over compensate when there is little to no daylight and to keep the bathroom inviting so people will want to use it. Great lighting combines multiple sources that build up an atmosphere. Wherever possible do not heavily rely upon a single source, such as only can lights or a central ceiling light but also introduce wall lighting or another hidden source of light.
As a bathroom is a high use area with many white objects, it’s important to light these up well. This will make the bathroom seem brighter and more inviting.
White goods include sinks, toilets, bathtubs or showers that are not easily lit by daylight coming through windows anyway, so even more so need lights closer to them. Place can lights or downlighters over each task area which will reflect light back up into the space and the people using the room.
If you have a vanity area with a bathroom mirror, consider the lighting around it. Mirrors reflect light so when lit well they can make an otherwise dark room seem brighter and more inviting.
Give mirrors consideration in your overall design scheme as this will be one of the first things that people see upon entering the restroom.
Mirror lights should be placed either on the side of the mirror or illuminating it from above in order to illuminate it well and ensure the users face is lit evenly.
Round bulbs are perfect for this as they produce no harsh shadows, sometimes seen in cabaret style wall lights traditionally seen in theatre dressing rooms.
When you can send light upwards onto the ceiling it will give the impression of pushing the ceiling away and make a room feel bigger. Place in ground floor lights along a wall or bathtub or hide them wherever you can.
One style would be to go with the darker mood and not pretend there is natural light but invite the user in with a cosier moodier level of light day or night. Many hotel en-suite bathrooms do not have natural light and they are designed to be inviting – go check out some examples and be inspired.
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