When building your new home or remodeling an existing bathroom have that special opportunity to choose all the details. Bathrooms are one of the smallest rooms of the home, but actually one of the most important. Of course there is bathroom fixtures, flooring, paint or wallpaper, but it is the bathroom lights that will bring the whole room together. You can have the most expensive whirl pool tub, shower enclosure, marble top hickory vanity, and walls painted for near gold plated prices, but if you can’t see yourself, then the purpose has been defeated.
Lighting for a home begins not when the construction has already started, but actually in the blue print stage. Many homes will come with a lighting sheet in the prints. Deciding ahead of time on the location, size, and purpose for each light makes the on site construction process go much more smoothly. Think about total area to be lit, the ability of each light fixture, and the uses for each light. A chandelier may be perfect for living room, but it may take several track lights to make the room bright enough.
A bathroom is no different. When choosing bathroom fixtures light the decor of a home is important. Contemporary bathroom lighting might not look the best in a rustic log home, so choose lighting fixtures that match your motif. Also some homes can be done with different styles per room. One home I visited recently had very traditional home furnishings through out the first floor. On the second floor the 20 year old college aged daughter resided. She preferred the contemporary look, so her bedroom and bath were redone in contemporary bathroom lighting. It really suited her area.
Also consider the type of light for the bathroom. A rule of thumb that is seen at times in the industry is to allow about two to two and a half feet of area per light. Bathroom wall lights help in the illumination. Ceiling lights and recessed lighting are also good choices.
For the bathroom vanity lights, more thought should be applied. Down lights in the middle of a room or in the shower are fine, but when lighting the vanity area, they are not adequate. A bar light mounted above the sink is good. But more light is even better. Side bar lights are a good addition. Mounted horizontally, one on each side, they work together to light the person’s face evenly. Light cast from above and each side respectively removes the shadows. Vanity lights are best when the shine directly onto the person. Halogen or glowing bulbs are very good for this. A dimmer on the lights allows for brighter lighting when working on detailed makeup.
Exhaust fans are another area that can be improved upon. In the United States, an exhaust fan is required when there is no window in the bathroom. The vast majority of the time the fan is simply stuck in the corner of the room and forgotten about. Today there are so many more options and ways to use that fan to your advantage. Consider adding a light fan combo instead. There are some on the market that are very plain and inexpensive looking. Instead of settling for one that looks like an escapee from a yard sale, take the time to explore more of your options. I found a really nice one that had a round light with a antique metal looking finish. The fan was cleverly mounted behind the edge of the round light, thus hiding any grating.
Now that you have a nice fan light chosen, take the care to locate it in the bathroom so that it has the room to illuminate the room to its fullest ability. Many fans are stuck in the corner above the toilet or on the top of a wall. Don’t settle for that. A nice fan light can enhance the room and also add to the lighting. This is where planning ahead can make all the difference. If the room is already wired and you bring home the wonderful light fan combo that matches your interior design, it will look really silly stuffed into a corner.
Heat lamps are also a great way to enhance a room. Though not decorative, they really feel good after a bath or shower. My children love to sneak into my master bath on a cold day and turn it on. I have found my little lady of five parked on my vanity chair with the heat lamp on. She loves to wear shorts as much of the year as she can get away with. On a cold morning she thought that heat lamp was just for her. Heat lamps are also very helpful to elderly people who struggle with circulation. Getting chilled after bathing is the last thing that is good for them. The heat lamp can assist in keeping their bodies the right temperature while they dress.
When building your custom home the electrician for the job may hate this recommendation, but it is really important. The bath should be wired with dimmers and each light individually. The switch plate may look like an over kill for a bath, but each light has a separate purpose and use. A heat lamp only needs to be on after a bath or shower. Shower lights only need to be in use when the shower is occupied. Vanity lights need to be able to be adjusted from bright to dim depending on the activity they are lighting. An exhaust fan needs to be in use just part of the time but the light built into it may be needed when the fan is not. Separate wiring, though more costly and time consuming up front, is a real treat for the life of the room. When building new you have the pleasure of customizing that home to meet your wants and needs. The electrician will come around when they see that you are set on your plans. This sounds silly, but I have found that men tend to think very functionally, i.e. “There’s two lights in there, what else could this lady want?” Whereas the lady of the house thinks about choosing clothing colors, applying makeup, styling her hair, and more in the illumination of the bathroom. Stick to your plan. You are the customer and the subcontractors simply have to come to your terms in the end. It is your home and you are the one who has to live with the final product, so take the time to make it the way YOU want it.
Bathroom lighting is worth the time and effort to think through exactly how you want it to look and function. Visiting a few lighting stores and looking on line with help to shed light on exactly what you like and don’t like. One horizontal vanity bathroom light fixture may really match your home, but another may shed more light. This is where taking the time to investigate and view as many as you can may be time consuming, but it greatly pays off in the end. Custom homes are the very pinnacle of expressing yourself, so don’t let builders or electricians stand in your way. Partner with them instead to create the space that you envision. Criticizing them will not get you far, but working with them and explaining your ideas will assist them in making your space a reflection of your mind’s eye.