Good bathroom lighting is as important in the bath as it is in the kitchen and even more often neglected. Think of all the delicate grooming and first-aid operations performed in the bathroom, and you'll realize why you should plan for adequate lighting early in your remodeling job.
Electrical outlets and switches are easier to move than plumbing pipes if the wiring is reasonably accessible, and that one lone ceiling fixture isn't remotely OK!
Plan for maximizing natural light first: glass block or textured, frosted, or stained glass for eye-level windows in the wall; clear glass for a skylight if possible. For artificial light, plan on at least 4 watts of incandescent lighting per square foot (160 watts in a 538-foot bath or 280 watts in an 8,310-foot bath).
If you choose fluorescent lighting, figure 2 watts per square foot. Incandescent lights and deluxe "warm white" fluorescents behind a diffuser are flattering; "cool white" fluorescents are not and should be avoided. Halogen lights are hot but yield a bright light from tiny sources.
The new natural-spectrum lights are closer to sunlight than any other artificial source available, and many people feel these lights give the psychological health benefits of the real thing. Their bulbs are only slightly costlier than conventional incandescent bulbs.
For grooming, lights on both sides of the mirror are better than overhead, where they cast shadows. You'll need strong lighting over or around the mirror, but don't overdo it: If the mirror reflects the lights as it does with theatrical strip lighting, you'll get double the dazzle -- and double the heat.
For lighting above the shower area, be sure to use a fixture rated for damp areas. Over the bathtub, you may want lighting on a rheostat to make bright for reading or dim for relaxing.
For general, ambient lighting, multiple recessed ceiling fixtures are the most efficient and neat-looking, but if you're not planning to redo the ceiling, you may opt for period lighting (simply styled is better) in a traditional space or track lighting in a modern one. Up-lighting sconces are also good choices for general lighting.
Crystal-dripping chandeliers are great in a showhouse bath, but for safety and an uncluttered look, you'll want to keep ceiling fixtures and wall sconces fairly unobtrusive. And don't forget, the most exciting lighting fixture in the world can't rival the spectacular effect of natural sunlight flooding a bath!
Modern bathroom with all the amenities are becoming more and more common. On the next page, discover the amenities you never knew you needed.