4 Lighting Mistakes Novice Home Designers Make in the Bathroom

Avoid common Lighting Mistakes, and your bathroom can look as good as this one

Lighting design influences our built environments. Think about it: when you were a teenager, walking into a dimly lit Abercrombie & Fitch felt cool, and, somehow mature. Now as an adult, you wonder how the store sells any clothes, everything is so hard to see!

Bad lighting is one thing at the shopping mall, but it’s something else entirely in your own home, especially in a space you use every single day: the bathroom.

In an interview with the Huffington Post, Houzz contributor Tiffany Carboni says that poor lighting is “ineffective for shaving or applying makeup, it can visually age you by 10 years.” Have you ever walked out of the house thinking you looked great, only to get to work and realize that, well, great was too strong a thought to have had? It’s like that Seinfeld episode: Elaine thinks she looks wonderful in a dress she has tried on at a department store. When she takes it home and tries it on again, it looks like a totally different dress. This is what bad lighting can do: it plays tricks on your mind!

To keep from accidentally making future fashion faux pas, and more importantly, to keep your bathroom looking sharp, avoid these four lighting mistakes!

Do not hang task lighting above the bathroom vanity mirror. Lighting designer Randall Whitehead tells homeowners that task lighting hung above the vanity mirror “casts unflattering, shadows, including darkness below the eyes.” To better light your bathroom and give it a more natural look, Whitehead suggests hanging wall sconces on either side of the mirror. By framing the vanity mirror with these bathroom light fixtures, the sconces illuminate the space and the bathroom user’s features, helping them to better notice the dried toothpaste at the corner of their mouth.

Do not overlook the color temperature of the light bulb. According to the lighting resource center Lowel EDU, the color temperature of a bulb refers to its (you guessed it) color features, i.e. white, yellow and blue light. The cooler the temperature of the bulb, the bluer it is, the warmer the temperature, the more yellow. Before grabbing a pack of bulbs at the hardware store, look at its color temperature. Smaller numbered bulbs will have a higher yellow concentration. The color of the bulb you select will depend on how often you frequent the bathroom in question. Is it a guest bathroom? Then a warm light is all you need. Is it for the master bath? Then you’ll need a mix of the two.

Do not rely on one light source. This statement should really be applied to every room in the house. The bathroom should have a mixture of ambient, task and accent lighting. Layering these light sources will create a natural light look and help to make you feel more refreshed and ready to greet the day. You can layer your bathroom lighting by (as suggested above) placing wall sconces on either side of the vanity and by installing an overhead light in the ceiling.

Do not hang lights in the bathroom. When replacing your bathroom light fixtures, you will be tempted to go with new fixtures that might not work well in the space. A hanging pendant light for example could be dangerous to use in the bathroom. This Old House says that “electricity and water are still lethal companions, and nowhere do they mingle more closely than in the bathroom. Always consult a certified electrician before tackling even the simplest lighting project.” Depending on your city ordinance, you may not be able to hang certain fixtures within so many feet of your shower.

Knowing what you know now, does your bathroom need a lighting detail?