How to Choose Your Vanity Lighting
How to Choose Your Vanity Lighting
Today's luxurious bathrooms demand adequate vanity lighting. It's not just about achieving the right light quality or amount--it's also important to choose a vanity light with a style that makes a statement and complements your existing fixtures and décor.
As the first element that many people notice in any bathroom, vanity lighting is a critical part of any remodeling project. A few things to consider when selecting vanity lighting include the size, finish, bulb type and design style. Here are some helpful tips on choosing vanity lighting that will function beautifully in your home for many years.
Choosing the Right Size: Bath light bars, which are the basic type of vanity lights, typically come in two-, three- and four-light versions to suit small and large rooms alike. While you want to ensure you have plenty of light, be sure to choose one that is no wider than your vanity or cabinet width, which may be wider than your mirror.
Most people choose vanities that are about 75% of the mirror's total length. When using bath bars, mount them high off the floor (78 inches is recommended) and center with the cabinet for a clean, finished look. If you have a very long vanity or double sink setup, you may want to consider using more than one of the same bath bar to get the job done.
However, another option is to use sconces in place of or in addition to a bath bar, as seen in the photo at right. Using sconces alone is a nice option for rooms with small mirrors. Place one sconce on either side of the mirror at least 28 inches apart from one another and 60 inches up from the floor. Sconces are often recommended because they increase the amount of usable light in the room, making it even easier to see yourself in the mirror! They can also add even more style to any bathroom.
Another option still is to hang matching pendant lights instead of the sconces flanking a mirror. In that case, the pendants are suspended from the ceiling instead of the floor, but the same proximity guideline for sconce placement (28 inches) is a good rule of thumb here too.
Choosing the Right Finish: Your vanity light's finish should always coordinate with the existing faucets and fixtures in your bathroom. If your fixtures have a shiny look, go for a polished silver or chrome. Brushed nickel finishes work well with brushed bath fixtures. Other finishes that are coming back in lighting and bath fixture design are antique brass and bronze.
Choosing the Bulb: Rule #1: Never use exposed bulbs in the bathroom! To achieve a flattering light and increase comfort (imagine looking over while lounging in the bath and being blinded by a bare bulb in your bath bar! Ouch!), choose a fixture with a frosted glass cover. Most of today's bath bars and bath lighting options have these. Also, you can even choose bulbs that are coated or have frosted glass for an even, flattering effect.
Compact fluorescent bulbs or even LED bulbs can be used in place of standard bulbs in nearly any bathroom. Fluorescent or LED lighting is ideal for bathrooms because both choices emit much less heat than incandescent lighting, last longer and save energy. Just be sure to choose a high-quality bulb with a Color Rendering Index (CRI) of 80 or above. You won't even be able to tell that it's not incandescent!
Increasing the amount of light in the bathroom is also especially ideal for older eyes. People who are over 65 years old need four times the light as their under-25 counterparts, according to the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America.
Choosing the Style: This is the fun and easiest part: choose vanity lighting that fits your personality. Is your bathroom luxurious and full of detail? Traditional style would probably be best for you. Modern or contemporary style is best for minimalists while transitional style strikes the perfect balance between the traditional and the current. Of course, you can always choose to follow a theme like coastal, Mission, Art Deco and so on!
A current, widespread trend is the spa look. People want their bathrooms to be their own private inner sanctums and look to high-end hotels and spas for inspiration. Clean lines, sleek fixtures and the use of sconces along with bath bars are all hallmarks of spa style. Bath vanity fixtures from the Quoizel Taylor line and the George Kovacs Jewel Box (pictured) line are just two examples that fit this popular trend.
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