A windowless bathroom can be dull and dreary. Managing your morning routine in a dimly-lit space can make you feel apathetic and uninspired – not a great way to start your day! In fact, many studies show that exposure to bright light in the morning boosts energy and focus all day long. Fortunately, brightening things up can really make a difference. The best lighting for bathrooms with no windows combines ambient lighting and task lighting to create a bright, functional space. Begin with bright overhead lighting that flows evenly throughout the room, and add focused lighting over the vanity to make tasks like shaving or applying makeup a breeze.
What are the Best Light Bulbs for Bathrooms with No Windows?
Improving lighting in a given space involves more than just plugging in a higher-wattage bulb. Light quality is based on a few factors. Understanding your options can help you choose the best bulbs for bathrooms with no windows.
Light Bulb Types
There are three main types of bulbs available today: halogen incandescent, compact florescent lights (CFLs) and light emitting diodes (LEDs.) CFLs are not recommended for bathroom use because the frequent on/off usage patterns of typical bathroom lights shortens the bulb’s lifespan. Most experts suggest using LEDs for windowless bathrooms. Although incandescent bulbs will work fine, LEDs are significantly more energy efficient and last over 25 percent longer than incandescent bulbs.
Brightness is measured in lumens. A typical household bulb emits about 800 lumens (This is equivalent to traditional 60 watt incandescent bulbs). For a windowless bathroom, ideal total lighting is at least 2,000 lumens. A centered, overhead light fixture that accommodates two or three bulbs will get you to that level, making up for the lack of natural light.
Color and Light Quality
Today’s bulbs have ratings and values on their labels that can be confusing. The color temperature, which is measured in Kelvins, rates the color or tone of emitted light. Lower color temperatures refer to warm light tones – yellow to soft white – and higher temperatures indicate cool, bright light with blue undertones. Typical incandescent bulbs are in the 2700K to 3000K range, pure white light is about 4000K, and natural daylight is 5000K. For general lighting in a windowless bathroom, consider something in the 3000K to 4000K range.
The color rendering index (CRI) refers to how an object’s color appears under the bulb’s light, when compared to how its coloring appears under ideal or natural lighting. A higher value indicates a more true representation of color. Incandescent bulbs generally have the highest CRI value of 100. For bathroom lighting, look for a CRI of 90 or higher, especially for task lighting that provides focal light over the bathroom mirror. To achieve optimal lighting for makeup application, try LEDs for general overhead lights and incandescent bulbs for additional task lighting.
Light Fixtures for Bathrooms
There are many types of light fixtures that work well in bathrooms. In small spaces, you may want to avoid low-hanging lights, but semi-flush ceiling mounted fixtures can be both appealing and practical. For windowless bathrooms, choose clear or white shades that let light through. Since moisture accumulation is often an issue in bathrooms, recessed lighting – which can allow moisture to escape into spaces above the ceiling – may not be the best choice.
For vanity lighting, sconces on each side of the mirror will illuminate your face and minimize shadows from overhead lights while adding an elegant touch to your bathroom. If you prefer a more contemporary look, there are a number of vanity lights on the market, including Hollywood style kits – rope lights or globe sets that are placed all the way around the mirror.
Other Considerations for Lighting a Bathroom with No Windows
Bright bathroom lighting is a great way to electrify your morning. But what if you want to relax in the tub after an exhausting day? Installing a dimmer switch for overhead lighting will allow you to adjust lighting levels to suit your mood. Dimmer switches are now made for all types of bulbs, but older switches may only work with incandescent bulbs. Be sure to check a new dimmer switch’s label for information about light bulb compatibility.
Finally, a fresh coat of paint can really brighten up your windowless bathroom.