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When it comes to presenting yourself in the most favorable light, your bathroom lighting design is where it all begins. Start the day off right with illumination that is accurate and plentiful, yet flattering and comfortable.
Refine your Task Lighting with our 3-Step Guide for Best Bath Lighting
Get your Lumens
Watts are a measure of energy consumption, while lumens are a measure of light output. New light bulb packaging must now include the lumen output as the true measure of light bulb “brightness.”
For task lighting at the mirror, you will need bright shadow-free illumination around 1600 lumens + similar to that provided by a traditional 100-watt incandescent light bulb.
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Show Off Your True Colors
Pastels and light colors reflect, rather than absorb light so you will optimize lighting effects and make the most of your wall sconces, chandeliers and ceiling lights if you opt for white or lighter colors on bathroom walls and ceilings.
Color temperature, expressed in Kelvins (K), refers to the appearance of light ranging from cool blue to warm yellowish tones. Skin tones tend to look most flattering in medium to warm color temperatures around <3500K. Look for LED bulbs with a 2700K temperature.
The color rendering index (CRI) is another key color quality. CRI ranges from 0 to 100; the higher the CRI, the better. Natural daylight is considered to have a CRI of 100. For bath lighting, choose quality fluorescent or LED lamps with a CRI of at least 85.
Note: New color quality scales are in the works for LED lamps. Current CRI values for LED may not always be the best indicator for color quality.*
Decorate in Layers
Main lighting “layers” include:
- General or ambient illumination
- Accent and decorative lighting
- Task lighting
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While the master bath may be larger with more spa-like amenities, the children’s or guest bath should be simpler and more functional, and the powder room more of a decorative statement, priority should be given to task lighting for grooming at the mirror.
- Task lighting at the mirror should surround the face with balanced illumination provided from all sides to minimize shadows under the eyes, chin, cheeks and forehead. Bath vanity lighting on either side of the mirror should be centered at eye-level and installed about 60 to 66 inches above the floor and sconces should be spaced about 28-30 inches apart (These figures vary according to fixture size and shape, as well as the height of individuals using the mirror).
- For accent and/or night lighting, LED strip lights are excellent. Try slender and compact strip lights in toe kick spaces and cove ceilings. Not only do they add a polished finishing touch, LED strip lighting produces almost no heat, is energy efficient and virtually maintenance-free.
- For general illumination, try a centrally located flush or semi-flush fixture.