A guide to bathroom lighting
Hi, Ladies & Gents!
Today I want to chat about proper bathroom lighting. Bathrooms are becoming more and more of a place to unwind and relax. A sanctuary. It’s no wonder bathroom design is a huge market! Material selection & good layout are important factors to a beautiful bathroom, but lighting is what can make a good bathroom, a great bathroom. It creates an experience.
Let me, help you, help yourself. So cheers! You’re about to be one step closer to living a life well-designed.
Let’s start with what is so wrong, shall we?
Without getting too technical, let me put this very simply:
- Fluorescent lights are rude. They are unflattering for everyone, plain and simple.
- Pink lights give a misleading (no matter how beautiful) perception of your face, causing you to overlook dark spots & blemishes. Not great for makeup application, am I right ladies?
Terms to know:
When selecting light bulbs, you want to look for two key factors, which these days, are displayed clearly on the front of light bulb packages:
- The CRI (Color Rendering Index) of the bulb. A bulb can have a score 1-100. 100 is perfect and indicates that colors under the light source appear the same as they would under natural sunlight (AKA more vibrant colors). Lower CRI number indicates a duller tone. Shoot for anything over 90 and you’ll be fabulous!
- The CCT (Correlated Color Temperature, measured in Kelvin). This tells you how warm or cool the light appears. The higher the Kelvin, the bluer and whiter the light will be. You will choose the bulb’s CCT based on the type of lighting you want a room to display- whether it be a glowy vibe, or a more well-lit, task oriented light. *Hint hint: People look best in lighting that is warmer, between 2700K-3000K. If you're nice, you'll do this in the common areas to make your guests look better.
Learn to layer your lighting:
Task lighting- Grooming, applying makeup, showering, etc.
In the main bathroom area, you don’t want only recessed lights shining down. We need a good variety. For best results, add sconces or even pendants to your vanity area. For wall-mounted sconces, it is ideal to hang the lights either on the side of your mirror. If you have one long mirror, then make them hang 36”-40” apart, on the mirror. Hang at eye level, which is around 60”-65”. This will prevent unflattering shadows and harsh glares.
Now, here is the controversial part about which range of CCT is best for these task-oriented spaces. Trust me, you will see many strong opinions on this. And honestly, both options work. I will leave it to you to decide which is more “you”.
Option 1: If you prefer that healthy glow while getting ready in the mornings, you will want to use warm lights. Stay between 2700K – 3000K. This will still provide enough light so you can see everything and not miss a beat when applying makeup. You will need to make sure to get a bulb that has a CCT of at least 90.
The photo below is a great example of a warmer light. It has sconces that are diffusing the light vertically, bouncing off the walls and giving you a soft ambiance.
Option 2: If you want fresh, bright light (bright light doesn’t have to mean squinting, unflattering light), the 3000K-3500K is your perfect range. To ensure brighter and flattering lighting, avoid selecting a bulb over 3500K. Anything over that will give your bathroom too much of a blue hue, which is not ideal. Make sure to get a bulb with a CCT of 90 or higher. This will ensure that your bulb will give off the colors most similar to those perceived in natural sunlight.
With that being said, both are good for task lighting, such as grooming and applying makeup. You just need to decide if you’re more of a glow or sunlight person.
Now, if you for some reason must hang lights over your mirror, then for the love of all things beautiful, don’t use downlights! And what I more specifically mean, are no fixtures with shades only casting the light down on you. They create shadows and glares that shouldn’t be there. It’s basically like shining a flashlight under your chin when you’re telling horror stories- just in reverse. Super flattering? No.
Light fixtures with no shades (bulb exposed) are excellent. Light fixtures with shades casting the light up are as well (try to have these installed at eye level instead of above mirror). Or even fixtures that cast light both up and down (as shown in above photo)!
These all allow light to bounce off the walls or ceiling, creating a beautiful and softer ambiance, while still providing good lighting. They also ensure that light evenly diffuses across your face. This, instead of the light shining right down on your face, creating those shadows that paint you to look scary. And the absolute last thing we need is to look scary.
If you’re like me, bath time is a more luxurious experience than a regular shower. I like to add warmer light above or around the tub for a more serene atmosphere. These can be through wall sconces, chandeliers, etc. To create a more relaxed environment, look for light sources between 2700K and 3000K. This range of color temperature offers a flattering, warm illumination ideal for a tranquil atmosphere. And again, make sure to get a bulb with a CCT of 90 or higher.
Want to know something else? Dimmer switches are amazing. Control your lights & set a mood!
All this to say, that paying attention to your light color (CCT), light brightness (Kelvin), and to the types of fixtures you install, will lead you straight down the path to feeling and looking beautiful. Bathrooms are our friend, not our enemy.
Laken Ashley Design