Bathroom Lighting – The Different Types and How to Get it Right

Bathroom Lighting

When it comes to bathroom lighting, there seems to be a theme. Most bathrooms have the same standard lighting setup with very few variations. Just because it’s common, though, doesn’t mean it’s right. Bathrooms with lighting that doesn’t conform to the norm aren’t set up that way to be different or decorative. There are a number of different kinds of lighting that should be put in the bathroom and you might be surprised at just how much of a difference they can make.

The Different Types of Lighting

There are a few different types of lighting that belong in a bathroom, but most bathrooms seem to only have one or two. Without the proper lighting, though, getting things, like makeup, done can be much more difficult and frustrating than they should be. Here are four of the different types of lighting that should be in your bathroom.

  1. Task lighting. The purpose of task lighting is to help you see what you’re doing. Have you ever tried doing your makeup in the dark? If you don’t have good task lighting, you more or less have but unless you’ve applied makeup with good task lighting, you may not know the difference. Because it’s supposed to help you get things done, task lighting should be bright and placed around the areas where most of the “tasks” will be completed.

  2. Ambient lighting. The purpose of ambient lighting is to light up the bathroom in general. It doesn’t need to be extremely bright, but it should be bright enough to help you see where you’re going and avoid fixtures or anything that may have been left on the floor. Since its purpose is to light the room, ambient lighting is usually placed in the center of or throughout the ceiling.

  3. Accent lighting. The purpose of accent lighting is more decorative than it is functional. Accent lighting can be used to illuminate specific fixtures or pieces that you may want to feature such as wall art. Although its purpose is decorative, it does serve a function as well. Accent lighting should be placed in any area necessary to help balance out the overall lighting of the room.

Where Lighting Should be Placed

Now that you know about the different types of lighting, you’ll need to know where they should be placed. Task lighting won’t necessarily be useful around the toilet and accent lighting might not be best placed near the sink.

  1. On the ceiling. The type of lighting that should go on the ceiling is the ambient lighting. It doesn’t need to be blindingly bright, but should be able to light up the bathroom as a whole and illuminate walkways. If you’ve ever been in a bathroom that isn’t well illuminated, you know how off-putting it can be to have to try and navigate your way through.

  2. Around the mirror. Task lighting is the type of lighting that should go directly around the mirror. Be careful about only placing task lighting directly above the mirror. Because of the way it’s placed, lighting above the mirror can cast strange shadows and cause you to look different than you do in regular light. Placing task lighting on either side of the mirror can help you avoid shadows while illuminating your workspace and helping you better see what it is you need to do.

  3. Along the walls. Accent lighting should be placed along the walls. It doesn’t need to go right next to the task lighting or other light fixtures, but it should be placed in areas where the other lighting doesn’t seem to reach. A decorative light fixture near the tub or a couple of sconces around the toilet might be all you need.

Getting it All Right

Once you’ve installed your lighting, you’ll need to use the proper lightbulb wattage for everything to work in harmony. Ambient lighting should be between 65 and 75 watts to illuminate the room well enough to see. Task lighting should be between 75 and 100 watts to ensure that you are able to see what you need to do as you get ready for the day. Accent lighting, though can be softer – around 55 to 65 – since it only needs to fill in the spaces where the other light can’t reach and softly highlight any wall art or features you want to draw attention to. But, when choosing light fixtures, keep in mind that they should be rated for damp and wet locations to avoid rust and damage.

If you’re redoing a bathroom, don’t install certain lighting just because it’s what you’ve seen everywhere else. Proper lighting can make all the difference, not only in the function of the room but in the atmosphere as well. And since you spend a fair portion of your day there, you should be able to feel as comfortable and at-home as possible.