I plan to remodel my master bath and dressing area and my childrenï¿½s bathroom. The previous lighting was terrible. What is the best and most efficient lighting for bathroom projects?—Judi L.
Lighting and energy efficiency are as important to bathroom remodeling as installing the proper vanity or plumbing fixtures. Today’s modern master bathrooms and dressing areas are often as large as some second bedrooms.
The lighting in most older bathrooms consists of an overhead light, perhaps built into a vent fan if there is no window. If there was a window, few builders went to the expense of installing a vent fan. Today, vent fans are almost always installed to address indoor air quality concerns. While remodeling, definitely install a vent fan.
The lighting for your children’s bathroom will be simpler, so tackle it first. A basic overhead light should be adequate; there’s likely already an incandescent overhead light or fan-and-light fixture. In either case, replace it with an ENERGY STAR-qualified fan with a compact fluorescent bulb to save energy.
Since children tend to forget to turn off lights or fans, select a vent fan with a motion or humidity sensor to automatically shut it off at the right time.
Mastering task lighting
Planning efficient and effective lighting for your master bathroom is a bit more complicated. Use the basic design technique called layering to provide proper lighting for various activities.
The three basic lighting layers are task, ambient, and accent or decorative. Bathrooms are relatively task-oriented, so adequate task lighting is most important. Other than showering or bathing, the task lighting at the mirror and vanity is most often used.
Ideally, place lighting on both sides of the mirror and perhaps on top for three-direction lighting. This eliminates shadows, which can be troublesome when shaving or applying makeup. If the mirror is not too wide, wall-mounted vertical fluorescent tube lighting on each side of the mirror is best and efficient.
Consider recessed overhead task lighting for the bath/shower area. Broan/Nutone offers recessed light fixtures with built-in exhaust fans. These are efficient because excess moisture is drawn from the shower stall before it ever enters the room. For ambient and accent lighting, lower-wattage incandescent fixtures—either overhead or sconces—are effective.
Shedding light on vanities
There are numerous options for improving vanity lighting, especially for applying makeup. Several companies offer efficient decorative T2 or T5 fluorescent fixtures. Some can be attached to wide mirrors, and decorative sconces with compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) are effective around narrow mirrors.
Daylight type CFLs provide the best color rendition for makeup. Halogen bulbs can also be used; they are more efficient than incandescent bulbs and provide whiter light.