By Shelagh Duncan
When it comes to lighting, an often ignored area of our homes is the bathroom. We’ll choose great tiles and faucets, but lighting usually plays a supporting role. Whether we opt for that minimalist Spa look, luxurious opulence, or just a serene place of refuge, lighting can make or break the effect.
Let’s face it – the strip light above the mirror is the cheap and easy fix. A well thought-out lighting plan takes time and money, but makes the world of difference in any room. Basically you should have the three main types of lighting present – Task Lighting, Ambient Lighting, and Accent Lighting.
The ambient lighting usually comes from a central source and illuminates the whole area, but the ones that make us really love our space are Task and Accent lighting.
Especially important around the vanity mirror are the task lights. Remember those old movie star dressing rooms with a row of light bulbs down each side of the mirror? Well, they knew what they were doing! This gives the best overall illumination for using a mirror. Not the look you were going for? Well, today we would use two wall lights, or two pendant lights flanking the mirror at the right height. This will minimize facial shadows and give a more balanced illumination.
Adding a dimmer to your vanity lights will give the room softness when a bright light is not necessary, and you will be amazed at how much you will find yourself using this feature. Also consider installing a small illuminated concave mirror on, or near the main vanity mirror. The concave curvature of the mirror will magnify what you see in the mirror and help with special tasks such as shaving or applying makeup.
Avoid pot lights here – they will add years to your reflection. Any down-light will cast unflattering shadows so never use them above mirrors.
Recessed down- lights are great in the shower however, as long as they are rated for use in a wet area. They create a subtle look, yet are bright enough to shower with and even read shampoo labels. Choose ones with a domed ‘glass’ diffuser for the best light.
Undercabinet lighting can make those middle-of-the-night trips safer and easier. Install lighting in the toe-kick beneath the cabinetry, and under the top cabinet. Outdoor rope lights will work well, as will traditional low voltage lights.
Because it has to work so hard it needs an efficient layout and floor plan, organized drawer and cabinet storage and perfect lighting. Your preparation areas will need good light as well as your cooking and clean-up areas. Kitchen islands ideally should have a pendant light fixture with a dimmer, for variable light intensity. This is usually one of those multi-use areas in a kitchen, where you need great lighting sometimes and more subdued lighting at others.
Recessed pot lights are great in kitchens, but as many of us have high, angled ceilings they do not produce enough downlight to be very practical. Undercabinet lighting is very useful, and can give a really great effect when used alone. If you need to retro-fit look for rope lights, low profile fluorescents or low voltage puck lights. As usual, the task lighting is the most important element and needs to be well thought out.
Accent lighting will give your kitchen definition and personality and can add a real WOW factor. Illuminate glass-fronted cabinets, under open shelves or the space above your top cabinets.
Again, the rope lights will work well there and there are lots around at this time of year.
Lighting should be layered, and no one source dominating. It is there to create beauty and ambience.
Some of us love cooking and others – well, not so much… However we can still enjoy spending time in the kitchen if it is well designed and beautifully lit.
Until next time.