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Options in Bathroom Task Lighting

Last Updated Feb 13, 2012 · Written by Rob Schneider

If there is one emerging trend in home building and  renovating, it is that we are finally starting to take our bathrooms seriously. Instead of sticking a shower in one corner, a vanity somewhere in the middle and a single ceiling light for the whole room, we are taking a holistic approach and creating bathrooms that really work. While it's still important to have a centrally positioned light for general purposes, it's even better to think about your options in bathroom task lighting.

Vanity Task Lighting

The last thing you want when applying makeup or shaving is a light that illuminates everything but your face, but that's exactly what an ordinary ceiling light does. The best place for task lighting around the vanity is on the wall around the mirror. Sconces on either side of the mirror are probably the best option, but a light above the mirror also works. Another option is an illuminated bathroom mirror with a compact fluorescent lighting surround. With any type of vanity lighting, start with more light than you think you need and include a dimmer switch so you can adjust the lighting to suit your needs.

Ceiling Lighting

When choosing bathroom task lighting, consider your ceiling light as your general purpose light source. Instead of thinking of it as "just a light," though, think of it as a potential decorative touch. Why, for example, can't you have a chandelier effect in the bathroom? Or what about the stunning variety of LED recessed downlights that are available today? LED lights are ideal for recessed lighting because they are cool burning and far outlast any other type of lighting, so you will rarely have to get on a ladder to replace a bulb.

Bath and Shower Lighting

After you have installed task lighting for your bath and shower, you'll wonder how you ever got by without it before. Bath and shower lighting works best if it gives off diffused rather than direct light. One way to accomplish this is with a recessed light with a domed cover to spread the light out evenly. A stylish addition to a wet room is a series of wall mounted recessed lights, but make sure they are rated for wet areas.

General Bathroom Lighting Considerations

There is no place in the home where professional advice and installation is more important than in the bathroom. Both in the planning and building stages of your bathroom renovation, work with a licensed electrician. Not only will you be safer, their advice about all your lighting options will be invaluable and your bathroom task lighting will end up being just perfect for your needs.

Different types of lights produce slightly different colour spectrums. Halogen lights emit the most natural light, but are relatively expensive. LED lights cover a broad colour spectrum and some can be adjusted to create a range of colours. Incandescent lights give off a slightly yellow colour, so you may want to ask your electrician about nyodimium incandescent lights. These give off a more natural light than ordinary incandescent lights. Standard fluorescent lights emit a greenish tinge and can make the skin look sallow. A bare fluorescent light is arguably the worst choice in bathroom lighting, so if you choose fluorescent, choose covered lighting or compact fluorescent lighting designed for makeup work.
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