- By Signature Home Services
- In Aging in Place/Universal Design, Bathroom, Robin Burrill, Signature Home Services
Get Bathroom Lighting Right—for All Ages
Let’s get real. What are the most common priorities when homeowners start a bathroom remodel? That luxurious bathtub, or the PERFECT cabinets…Maybe it’s the paint color that gets them going, or the new shower that really excites them.
There are SO many fabulous selections to make in a bathroom remodel. A bathroom project is always loaded with BIG lifestyle payouts at the end, too. But is there something we commonly forget? Is there a pitfall somewhere in this remodeling experience that homeowners could avoid?
Especially when we’re talking about designing for all ages—including accessibility needs for safety and comfort and EVEN the design for little ones—there is one element that, while not “overlooked,” really needs to be a bigger part of the conversation: LIGHTING.
Let me say that again…LIGHTING is SO important, particularly when we’re talking about accessible design and ensuring comfort and safety for your family and those visiting your home.
Fixtures come second—first, let’s talk placement
When we talk about the best lighting for a bathroom, before we start flipping through magazines with dangling chandeliers over the tub and sun-colored glows coming from above the “rainfall-style” showerheads, there are some important things to remember…
- The placement of lighting will not only affect how you look when you put makeup on or wash your face every day, it will also be one of the key safety components when getting in and out of showers and tubs.
- The best bathroom lighting at mirrors will light your face from both sides rather than shining down from overhead. This not only avoids ugly shadows, but prevents anyone from having to tilt their head back to see well. When we’re talking about accessible design, some family members might not be able to lean back comfortably at all, so this ONE lighting decision can have a huge lifestyle impact.
- You need direct AND indirect lighting in a bathroom, especially to illuminate the bathtub and shower well.
- Your lighting needs change based on the time of day, so for the sake of safety and your electric bill, install dimmers on your primary bathroom lights. Remember: it’s ALWAYS better to over-light and install dimmers than to under-light and risk someone’s safety.
- Also be aware of the level of lumens in any LEDs you purchase—2,500 is a comfortable level of lighting for most folks, while at 5,000 you start feeling like you’re under a BLAZING North Texas summer sun!
OK, NOW we can talk fixtures…
If you are excited to select and put in those light fixtures during your bathroom remodel, think about the “shade” element of anything where a light is covered.
Looking back ten years ago, the “old world” style was in, meaning lighting had LOTS of amber golds. Today, glass coverings for lighting fixtures tend to be a frosted white. This is very good news for anyone looking for a timeless bathroom design, and GREAT news for anyone needing to make sure the bathroom is designed safely and ACCESSIBLY for all ages…
If you are going to put glass-covered light fixtures (or any hanging fixture) in your bathroom, a KEY to think about for accessibility is, “How do you plan on cleaning that?” Will it be easy to keep clean after months of hair products and steam floating around? Is there a safe way to get UP there and clean the inevitable gunk off?
And how about those upward-facing, bowl-shaped light coverings? You KNOW spiders and other tiny invaders will find their way in at some point…cleaning these fixtures can be particularly tricky, so think CAREFULLY about every light fixture—and how you can realistically access it for cleaning in the future.
And speaking of reaching the lights, any light that could risk being touched from inside the shower is a HUGE risk. For that reason, every municipality will have specific coding rules about what lighting can go over a shower space. Even a can light has to be covered AND certified for a wet area!
Questions about coding? Give me or Rob a call and we’ll tell you what rules are in place. And remember, these rules are there for a reason—please don’t electrocute yourself!!
To read more, check this article out.
A final bathroom lighting tip…
This last tip is worth calling out, because it’s been a big “ah-ha!” moment for some of our clients…
When we talk about accessible design and lighting for “all ages,” this includes WHERE the light switch is and HOW the light is turned on.
- For someone coming into the bathroom with a walker, the light switch shouldn’t be all the way on the opposite side of the room.
- For someone in a wheelchair, the light switch should be comfortably within reach.
- Voice-activated and motion-sensor options are always GREAT, too, especially for the little ones who ALWAYS forget to turn the lights off when they leave…
Accessible lighting in the bathroom—designed for ALL ages—is one of the most important things for your bath remodel. Think about where lights can be installed, what cleaning will look like, how lights will be turned on, and how you can best light for all times of day.
I will be talking about this and SO much more at the upcoming DFWSLS seminar, too! That’s coming up FAST, this January 13th at Trinity Terrance Senior Community. I’ll be on the panel answering questions about designing for all ages, and would LOVE to see you there…register for the Senior Living Series event right away!!
If you have other lighting questions or want to talk about your specific accessibility needs, you can also email me personally or start the conversation on Facebook.