Photos: Courtesy of Kichler
Photos: Courtesy of Kichler
As you are drawing up the plans for building a new home or remodeling an existing one, it is wise not to allow lighting to be a last minute consideration. For example, it is always easy to get caught up in the quest for choosing attractive tile and stylish cabinets for the master bathroom in the house you are getting ready to build, knowing that these luxuries will attract prospective buyers. Unfortunately, lighting in that master bathroom becomes an afterthought. In reality, it makes good sense to invest in a top-notch lighting plan for the bathroom. Lighting plays a vital role in maximizing the functionality of the bathroom, displaying its beauty to the greatest advantage, and promoting safety for anyone using the space. These are all factors that can be a great selling point for today’s buyer!

The lighting plan for bathrooms in many older homes was usually limited to one flush-mounted fixture at the ceiling and a light fixture installed above the vanity mirror. This is the scenario that quite a few homeowners are accustomed to, and they are not aware of the more preferable arrangements. You can explain to your clients that a single ceiling light fixture in the center of a bathroom creates unwelcome shadows that will restrict their vision as they shower or dress. The fixture over the mirror creates shadows that make shaving or applying makeup a challenge.

Good lighting design is developed in unison with the rest of your plans for the bathroom. It takes into account the following three separate layers of light that work harmoniously to achieve the optimal lighting experience in the bathroom.

1. Ambient — This is the general illumination of a bathroom that allows homeowners to see well enough to move around the room confidently and safely. Today, the most popular choices are multiple recessed LED ceiling lights and large flush-mount fixtures. Chandeliers and pendants may also be used for ambient lighting.

2. Task — This lighting helps homeowners perform tasks in the bathroom, such as brushing teeth and combing hair. For obvious reasons, when they are wielding a hot curling iron or a sharp razor, they will want their work space sufficiently bright, but free of glare so they can see clearly what they are doing. Task lighting is usually provided by wall-mounted sconces flanking the mirror or pendant lights over the vanity. To achieve even illumination of the homeowner’s entire face, task lighting should be placed on both sides of the mirror.

3. Accent — This is the lighting that adds depth and interest to the space by emphasizing the little architectural details that make the bathroom you are creating look exceptional. Accent lighting can include toe-kick lighting under the vanity, or recessed cove lighting that creates visual interest on the ceiling.

As you are planning the bathroom lighting, take into account that highly reflective surfaces impact lighting design. Avoid placing fixtures in a location where the light will reflect off a polished vanity top, causing an uncomfortable glare in the homeowner’s eyes.

It is also important to consider how your buyer’s age and the ages of others living in their home may influence the amount of light necessary in the bathroom. In order to see clearly enough to apply makeup or read instructions on medicine bottles, most older adults need three to four times more light than they did when they were younger.