Interior Renovation Lighting Design – Part 1: Bathrooms

When designing interior spaces, and particularly bathrooms, the lighting plan is key. Especially in many urban apartments, because there’s little or no access to natural light, the choices made for ambient (softening), task (functioning) and decorative (embellishing) light are all really important. While we often work from a reflected ceiling plan, like this one, the basic premise of good lighting design is simple: A combination of practicality and good design should prevail.  Blog-Pt1LightingDesign-Bathrooms0As many bathrooms these days are equipped with an abundance of marble slab, marble tiles or ceramic tiles, we find that a carefully selected accent light, or a curated pair of sconces can go a long way to making the room feel softer, more welcoming. This photo, for example, in a brownstone in Brooklyn we designed a while ago,  shows how a pairing of function, form and creativity make for a lovely room.  A pair of new mirrored glass sconces married well with a vintage mirrored glass frame we purchased from an antique dealer who actually silverplates old frames and distresses them a bit. Bingo! Good design. The black and white photos are the icing on the cake.Blog-Pt1LightingDesign-Bathrooms1Photo courtesy of Bruce Buck Photography. To see more from this McGrath II project, click here and go to “Brooklyn Brownstone.”

The best scenarios for us are when we are allowed to select all of the lighting fixtures in unison. Here, in a plan for a powder room of the loft apartment, we chose a ceiling fixture that is quite plain, except for its dressy polished nickel finish from Rejuvenation to pair with a chic single swing arm lamp above the sink in the same reflective silver finish. This same flush mount fixture will show up in other less conspicuous places in the apartment including the  guest bath, laundry room, and  master walk in closet. It’s a workhorse!Blog-Pt1LightingDesign-Bathrooms-NewRejuvenation – Eastmoreland Flush Mount, Circa Lighting – Boston Functional LightInteriorRenovation-Lighting-Bathrooms In this master bath, with no natural light, we’ve assigned locations for several ceiling recessed lights. These lights have come along way in their ability to be discreet and provide lighting that is universally flattering. The sconces are largely decorative, but very impactful, as they add some whimsy to a bathroom design which is quite dressy.
Blog-Pt1LightingDesign-Bathrooms4Waterworks – Blue Note SconceInteriorRenovation-Lighting-Bathrooms2In a guest bath, we combine recessed lighting and our favorite pendant with the simplest of double pendant sconces above the mirror. You can see how the lighting in this room lends a hand in making the room feel classic and unfussy, but not plain. Blog-Pt1LightingDesign-Bathrooms-New copyWaterworks – Cole Double SconceInteriorRenovation-Lighting-Bathrooms3Do you feel challenged when making lighting decisions for bathrooms? Comment below with any questions and we’ll try to lend our advice. And stay tuned for Part 2 & 3 of our Lighting Design series coming soon! We’ll be talking about selecting Bedroom Lighting and Living Room/Dining Room lighting. There’s lots to cover!

  • Samantha

    I’m curious if you’ve seen any exhaust fan/flush mount combos that are actually reasonably attractive. We have two in our master bath that I’d love to switch out for something more polished, but haven’t found a solution yet.

  • Mary

    I second that request. Exhaust fans are not attractive.

  • Barb

    Why are the flush mounts in both the powder room and guest bathroom not centered on the room itself and instead centered between the toilets and wall?

  • suzanne

    Try Ventline.

  • Clementine Living

    Looks great so far. Looking forward to part 2 & 3. Nice choice on the pendant lighting. Simple and elegant.

  • suzanne

    There is no rule of thumb for where to locate ceiling fixtures as there are so many unknowns. Ductwork for air-conditioning, ceiling fans, and door openings all pay a part.

  • Kerry Pitt-Hart

    the sconces on either side of the mirror for the brooklyn brownstone are gorgeous. would you mind sharing a source for these?