Small bathrooms might be those added under a stairway or in a spare closet. They might be for children, adults, or both. A small bathroom might be a guest powder room off the foyer or living room. One thing they have in common is that they are – small. Another thing they have in common is that they call for special lighting.
Small bathroom lighting is dependent, in part, on the use of the bathroom. One type of bathroom light fixture might convey a warm, cozy feeling for dinner guests. Another type of bathroom light fixture might make the small bathroom seem spacious – or provide light for reading while relaxing in a deep soak tub.
Warm and Cozy Lighting
You can make a small bathroom feel warm and cozy rather than claustrophobic by adding the right light fixtures. Suppose this is a small half-bath meant primarily for guests to "freshen up" before dinner. You've used small-patterned deep red and gold wallpaper for warmth. What kind of light fixtures should this small bathroom have?
Try recessed, can ceiling light fixtures focused on work areas. Or use indirect lighting around the perimeter of the ceiling-wall junction. On either side of the mirror above the sink, add a wall sconce light fixture. Avoid large wall sconces, or those that protrude too far from the wall, as they will make the room look cluttered. Layering these two types of light fixture will give you warm, gracious lighting in a small bathroom for guests.
Bright Enough for Reading
If the small bathroom in your home has a soaking tub, or one used by children, you will want good lighting in the tub area. Most lighting above tubs and showers is diffuse lighting, which is fine for a quick shower or bath. Diffuse lighting is also good over-all lighting to soften the entire bathroom. However, if you want to read – or get paint off of a child – you may want brighter, more concentrated lighting. Use a focused flood or halogen light fixture on the wall above the tub.
Choose safe, moisture proof light fixtures for this area. "Make sure that your lamps are UL rated for damp locations insuring safety," says Todd Phillips, president of lighting manufacturer Quoizel.
Space Enlarging Lighting
You can never have too much light in a small bathroom, as long as you use it properly. Perhaps the best idea for small bathrooms is to begin with indirect lighting around the ceiling for overall softness and warmness. Then consider these possibilities.
1. If your small bathroom has a window, use light-admitting, sheer curtains at the window. Add a shade that can be drawn for privacy.
2. Light shower or tub with separate wet area light fixtures, strong enough to permit easy personal grooming, but with dimmer switches for atmosphere.
3. On either side of the vanity mirror, use warm fluorescent vertical wall sconces to provide even facial illumination. Place a halogen light above the mirror for cross illumination. Place these mirror surrounding light fixtures on a separate switch.
4. Run a linear light fixture along the vanity toe-space to provide a soft night light.
5. For a family use small bathroom, place a halogen or flood light near the toilet, focused as a good reading light. Install a separate switch.
With all of these light fixtures layered in a small bathroom, you will always have exactly the amount of light you need for any given task. Yet you can make it cozy with dimmer switches, safe with night lights.
Small bathroom lighting need not be garish or insufficient. You can have plenty of light or cozy lighting if you layer your light, and control it with separate and / or dimmer switches.