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Designing a bathroom? Here are six tips for installing flattering lighting

We spend a lot of time in the bathroom, so it’s important to create a space that’s comfortable, attractive and functional. A big part of this is making sure your bathroom lighting complements the people who use it. Cinematographers and photographers know that lighting can have a huge impact on how attractive a person looks. And no homeowner wants a bathroom that makes them look horrible! Despite this, bathroom lighting is often a neglected part of interior design. That’s why we’ve put together this handy guide. If you’re planning to add a new bathroom or remodel an old one, use these six tips to help you design the most flattering bathroom lighting.

Layer your lighting

Having a single source of light in your bathroom can be a little too harsh. Instead, layer your bathroom lighting by using a number of different fittings, such as wall lights, and pendant lights, and a mixture of lighting types, including decorative, task and ambient light. By being able to adjust the lighting in this way, you’ll create a bathroom that has depth and illuminates the face from multiple angles. And consider dimmers - while you want the light to be bright when looking in the mirror, you may want to dim it when slipping into the bath at night!

Add task lighting

We perform a number of activities in the bathroom, such as shaving and applying makeup, so it’s important to install task lighting so you can see what you’re doing, but we also want this lighting to be as flattering as possible. We recommend placing wall lights at eye level on either side of the mirror. Wall sconces with shades are a good option for casting a warm ambient glow.

Avoid downlights

You want to avoid overhead lights and spotlights at all costs. Downlights can cast ugly shadows onto the face, which can accentuate wrinkles, bulges and other imperfections on the face and body. Not ideal for the bathroom!

If you must install downlights, position them towards the sides of the rooms, rather than in the middle , and never place them above the vanity, as that’s where you’ll get the worst shadows.

Hide your lighting

Ever wonder why you look so good in the changing room at a high-end clothing store, only to take your purchase home and wonder why you made such a ghastly decision? Retail stores know the power of flattering lighting. You’ll notice that good dressing rooms often have a diffused light achieved by hiding lighting behind mirrors and other areas. Copy the experts and consider installing strip lighting behind the bathroom mirror, and around vanities and niches for a soft, ambient, indirect light with less glare.

Pay attention to the quality of the light

It’s not just about where you place the light, but what light you use. The colour temperature of your lightbulbs will have a big effect on how flattering the light is. You want your lighting to measure about 2700 kelvins for a soft white warm light. And avoid fluorescent lighting at all costs. They can cast a poor-quality, greenish light that’s very unflattering. LEDs are a much better option

The other factor you want to look at is the Colour Rendering Index (CRI) of your light sources. If your lighting sources have a low CRI score, colours won’t appear as they should. For colours to appear as ‘true’ as possible, you want to achieve a CRI closer to 100. If your CRI is below 90, you might start to look a little off. Achieving the right CRI means you’ll be able to really see what you look like before you walk out the door.

Consider other aspects of your bathroom design

Bathrooms can be notoriously difficult to light properly. That’s because they tend to be smaller than other rooms in the house and mirrors and glass can further complicate your lighting design. 

Bathrooms with white walls are easier to light, because the light bounces off the surfaces. Bathrooms with dark walls, on the other hand, can be much more challenging to light effectively. Dark bathrooms will require more light sources than light-coloured bathrooms, and not having enough light sources could cause the room to look glum and gloomy.  Keep this in mind when designing the room.

Don't neglect safety

While this article is about achieving a great look that’ll make you look great, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the importance of installing safe lighting in the bathroom. Electricity and water don’t mix so be sure to pick lights with the right IP rating for the different zones in your bathroom. To find out more, head on over to our article about Australia’s lighting safety regulations and bathrooms.

Ready to get started?

Once you’ve planned out how you’re going to achieve the most flattering lighting in your bathroom, you can then start looking at different fittings. About Space stocks a range of affordable, contemporary and safe bathroom fittings and bulbs. Check out the About Space range!

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