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Sanjit Bahra

Sanjit Bahra is an award winning lighting specialist with over 19 years experience in architectural lighting design. He established DesignPlusLight in 2008 and he has become a leading expert in lighting


The importance of bathroom lighting

Posted 8th Jun 2016


Bathroom design has developed considerably over the years. No longer are bathrooms just functional spaces – high-end residential design aims to bring the five-star hotel and spa experience to the home. Bathrooms often have all sorts of technical wizardry integrated; from hi-tech sound and AV, to steam room and spa facilities. Bathrooms are now becoming havens away from the stressful day-to-day grid – they have become a relaxation sanctuary. A bathroom serves the purpose for quiet reflection and restoring wellbeing.

Lighting is one of the most important aspects in a bathroom as it is the only design element that can instantly transform the appearance of a space at the touch of a button. A bathroom is one of the most important rooms in the house as it's the first place you'll visit every morning, so the mood of the lighting needs to be right to set the tone for the rest of the day.

Lighting ideally needs to be dimmable to create different moods for ultimate relaxation. Different light levels are required depending on the time of day and use of the bathroom. Several lighting settings can be created, from bright and functional during the day, to dimmed lighting for long and relaxing soaks in the bathtub.

Here are our top six tips for achieving the optimum bathroom lighting:

Mirror Lighting. I cannot stress this enough. Good facial light needs to primarily come from the vertical plane in the form of wall lights or integrated lighting within the mirror. Halo lights to the mirror are a great design feature, however very little light reaches the face. I like to use downlights only as supplementary light for the face. Two downlights crosslighting the face provide some infill light, and also bounce-back light from the basin to illuminate under the chin.

I always like to make sure there is a 'night light' integrated into the bathroom design. This can be a simple floor washer in the shower or WC area, or a concealed LED strip under the basin cabinet. Ideally this should be on its own circuit so that, at night, all you have to do it flick one switch to use the bathroom without getting dazzled by all the other lights.

While downlights are great for providing a brightly lit space, too much downlighting can make for lacklustre environment. I prefer to layer the lighting and create focal points. Lighting within niches or shelving adds another depth to the space. It gives you the option to turn all the downlights off when having a relaxing soak and just have the feature lighting on.

Concealed lighting within ceiling slots is a great way to bring soft reflected light into the bathroom and evokes a spa like environment. It's a fantastic way to light a shower room with diffuse light.

Bathtubs are often placed in key focal positions and an opulent feature can be made of this. An example of this is a beautiful petal bath that was highlighted with recessed fibre optic uplights to pick out the form, while discreet wall washers illuminate the decorative motif to the back wall.

Backlit ceiling panels are an option many people do not think about. LED panelled lighting in the ceiling can give an illusion of a day-lit skylight to provide a diffuse lighting quality to the space. It's a useful trick for subterranean bathrooms and we can even add subtle colour changes to evoke the changes in natural daylight.

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