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CONDUIT 3: Home Lighting - The Bathroom


This is the third article in my on-going series of articles on lighting for the home, published in The Conduit, Sherborne's monhly free magazine.

And here's the text:

This is the third article in my series of Lighting For The Home; we’ve looked at lighting in the kitchen and lighting for the dining room, so its only to finish off this trio of pieces with Lighting for the Bathroom. Alimentary, my dear Watson.

Often described as the smallest room in the house, although we’re increasingly seeing bathrooms large enough for a sofa, the bathroom is that most essentially Functional of spaces. Let’s be brave and highlight the critical components of our loos; wash-basin, WC, bath, shower, pool table (perhaps).

Regardless of physical size, bathroom lighting must start with the wash-basin, and as the rooms get smaller, the lighting can start and finish with the wash-basin, because if we get this right, we have no need to employ anything else. And I want to get something off my chest right now, only three paragraphs in; the wash-basin is no place for downlighting. Lighting coming from the ceiling, certainly, but those small recessed torch-beams do little other than to throw unsightly shadows across the face, and that’s not what’s needed here.

I prefer to see a light fitting mounted either directly above the mirror (because there is always a mirror) or fitted to the ceiling directly above the basin. And I want that fixture to spread its light over as wide an area as possible. If the fixture can do that it means that our faces will also be lit in as gentle a way as is possible. This is why theatre dressing rooms have those light bulbs all around the mirror; it’s to reduce shadowing and allow make-up to be applied properly. There are domestic versions of those lights available, though they do suggest a touch of the thespians and may not suit the more decorous interior.

The wash-basin is the chief area where we spend time attending to ourselves. It’s possibly the only place in the house where you ever look at yourself. This does happen, so it’s appropriate to address the quality of lighting properly.

Do we light the WC? Well, you can if you want to, especially if it’s tucked away around a corner or sat in a little recess – or if you’re one of those people with a small library above the cistern and like to do a bit of reading. But it’s not essential. There is a reason why the WC is known as the ‘throne’; it’s because it’s the place from where you can view your private realm – so its everything else that needs the lighting, not the WC itself. (There are always exceptions to these guidelines, and megalomania is one of them. If you have a full-length mirror opposite your loo, it suggests that you might enjoy looking at yourself a tad overmuch. The thespian nature will out, eventually. Spotlighting would be nice.)

And that brings us to the major ablutions; the bath and/or shower. Maybe it’s just me, but I read bath and see bed – it’s a place to sleep. I can’t help it and there’s been many a book left drying on the radiator to prove it. Showers, on the other hand, are about getting the job done. I don’t want to be in the shower, I want to be out and doing. Lighting must always reflect the mood; lighting for the shower is simple and functional, most often a specially-rated recessed downlight (though I always insist on a fitting with a diffusing glass cover because I dislike the brilliance of the bar bulbs).

Lighting for the bath, however, while still needing to satisfy the practical need of getting us clean, should also bring with it that romance that every TV ad for lotions and unguents suggests. There’s a trend for cutting small recesses into the wall around the bath – great for creating a candle-lit effect and there’s plenty of new LED products that are suitable for just that purpose. Just put that book down before you close your . . . zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

And if you'd like to read the article in its intended environment, you can access the June 2015 issue of The Conduit here - just click on the image here.


And if you'd like to read more about lighting for the Bathroom, please visit my Home Lighting Consultant blog pages HERE!


RIBA CPD in 2015

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