Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Bathroom Lighting: How to Create a Perfectly Layered Lightscape

It takes a lot of experience to design a bathroom that woks on every level. From floor to ceiling, vanity to toilet, each part of a bathroom's design deserves equal attention. Unfortunately, many bathroom designs neglect the basics in favor of the WOW factor.

In our experience at MKBD, no element of bathroom design is so readily neglected as the lighting. Homeowners and remodeling companies alike focus on the big ticket item--like say, the porcelain tub--without giving equal thought to how the big ticket items will be illuminated.

Unfortunately, without appropriate lighting even the most exquisite bathroom designs will appear lackluster—or worse, blindingly-bright and frenetic.

How often have you visited a bathroom that felt incredibly dim?

How often have you visited a bathroom that blazed like an institutional bathroom?

This is why we prefer to discuss lighting first. We truly believe that your lighting choices determine the success of your project. Thankfully, with appropriate planning, your bathroom light can strike the perfect balance between function and style.

Check out your bathroom lighting options below!

Ahh, natural light. In this MKBD project, the tub is illuminated by a large, frosted glass window. Here, daytime bathing requires no artificial light; at night, moonlight provides a subtle glow.

Natural Light 

Perhaps for reasons of privacy, traditional bathroom design tends to limit the window space. This is unfortunate. No artificial light can equal the ambient glow of natural sunlight (or moonlight). And really, privacy is not an issue with today's discreet window options--like the frosted glass above.

If your bathroom does include ample window space, you're in luck. With ample natural light, you will not need to use your artificial lights during the day (and possibly into the evening). You will save money while benefiting from the calming rays of the sun--or moon. Yes, moonlight can illuminate a bathroom.

If you do not have ample window space, we suggest (when possible) installing more venues for natural light: more windows, or perhaps a skylight! A skylight is especially amenable to natural light, and is perfect for capturing  the dim light of the moon. Just imagine luxuriating in your nighttime bath with nothing but a few candles and the moon to light your way!

Layered lighting is crucial to achieving a balanced, textured lightscape. In this MKBD project, subtle ceiling lights complement the bright vanity lights. For grooming, use both. For relaxation, switch off the vanity lights.
Ceiling Lights

Many otherwise beautiful bathroom designs have been ruined by one simple flaw: a central, shockingly bright ceiling light. We see it time and time again: most of a bathroom's light is concentrated in once source, and this source is TOO BRIGHT.

The key to effective lighting is layers of light, each light source diffusing into the other. This is impossible if your ceiling light is throwing off watts like some mini sun.

This is not to say that the ceiling light cannot be the central source of light.You just don't want the ceiling light to dominate the ambiance. To control a strong, central light install a dimmer switch, and keep your lights brighter for grooming, softer for relaxing.

In general, however, MKBD advocates for evenly-distributed recessed ceiling lights (as in the project above.) Recessed ceiling lights can brighten specific areas, and can be installed to overlap, creating the rich, layered texture that is so crucial to wonderful lighting.

Bathroom Sconces

A sconce is decorative light holder attached to the wall. Many people view sconces as mere ornamentation, but sconce lighting plays a crucial role in bathroom design. Sconces are often seen around mirrors, but strategically-placed wall sconces can offer an extra layer of illumination for any part of your bathroom.

And about that ornamentation: you can choose from a variety of styles, materials, and finishes to complement your bathroom theme. Bathroom sconces are a perfect way to add some extra flair to your design.

Ornamental Sconces often come in vanity light strips, as in this French country-inspired MKBD project.

Vanity Lighting

Vanities are often illuminated by sconces or recessed lights. We mention vanity lighting here because of all your light elements, your vanity will most likely require the brightest light.

This is why a vanity sconce strip can be so useful: two, three, four (or more) lights can be fastened above your mirror to brighten your beauty-making.

Just make sure that your vanity light is not the primary light source for the bathroom. Again, think about layers. Ideally, you will only need your vanity light when you are actually using the vanity. Otherwise, the brightness might disturb the lightscape you worked so hard to create.

Free In-Home Remodeling Estimate

If you have any questions about your next remodeling project, please feel free to call MKBD for an individualized consultation. Let's talk bathroom design and more! Call now! 215-355-4747. Better yet, check out our Free In-Home Remodeling Estimate on this very blog!

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