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22 Jul, 15

Kitchens & Bathrooms News looks at alternative ways to illuminate the bathroom

By now, bathroom designers should all recognise the importance of IP-rated illumination in the bathroom, both for task lighting and to create an ambience.  But all too often this remains somewhere down the list when it comes to creating the overall scheme. This has the potential for lighting options to be limited. But it’s perhaps not surprising when bathroom experts seemingly don’t agree on when lighting should be considered. Marketing manager of Laufen, Joanne Langton says: “There is a still a tendancy for lighting to be left out of design plans until the latter stage, which limits the options available”. However, CP Hart designer Dan Cook suggests: “The more architectural lighting schemes and products are generally considered towards the end of the project. This is due to the fact that the lighting is used to enhance and highlight the features and details of the bathroom and the design.” He adds: “Designs should focus their lighting schemes around the features of their design.”  Cutting through this, however, it suggests general illumination should perhaps be considered at the start, with decorative elements to follow later.

Choice of lights

There are a plethora of lighting products which are becoming an integral part of the bathroom designer’s arsenal from LED downlights, plinth and walk-over lights through to LED strips (see Expert View). And Dan Cook of CP Hart agrees: “Right now, LED down lighters and LED strip lighting used under shelves and basin furniture to create a lit backdrop are seen as the most popular forms of lighting. The other most popular form is decorative lighting either side or near mirrors.” Certainly now more than ever specification has been simplified, with the likes of Sycamore offering an LED strip kit to illuminate the length of the bath or to stud a bath panel with lights. But arguably, one of the simplest ways to introduce illumination into the bathroom is simply to specify products with integrated lighting, such as vanity furniture alongside mirrors and mirrored cabinets. 

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Trophy cabinet

It’s perhaps no surprise illuminated mirrors and mirror cabinets have become such a success in bathroom sales, as not only do they highlight a key task area but they are a cost-effective option too. Joanne Langton of Laufen explains: “Lighting products such as illuminated cabinets and mirrors enhance the design of the bathroom, creating a luxurious, relaxing ambience without the customer needing to blow their budget. Such products offer retailers an effective way to add value to a sale, but as an integral part of plans from an early design stage, rather than as an afterthought.”

And certainly the popularity has been noted by other bathroom experts who manufacture illuminated mirrors and mirrored cabinets. In fact, marketing manager at Utopia Furniture Group Sam Ball comments: “At Utopia we offer a comprehensive range of illuminated mirrors and mirror cabinets, with either overhead lights or sensor-operated LED integrated lights. These are among our best-selling products as everyone needs a good, well-lit mirror for personal grooming.”

And this trend shown no sign of waning as Joanne Langton of Laufen agrees the illuminated mirror meets the need for task lighting: “The market for illuminated mirror cabinets has witnessed strong growth recently, as a space-saving option that ensures that the wash basin area is well-lit and eradicated the problem of shadows.” However, she adds illuminated mirrors and mirrored cabinets can also fulfil the role of ambient lighting too, adding: “bathroom lighting has changed its emphasis and has become much more about creating the right mood, as well as ensuring the space is well lit. Technology is responding accordingly, with different lighting effects now becoming much more widely available on illuminated cabinets and recessed lighting fixtures alike to put control in the hands of the user and this is a trend that is likely to continue.”


Create a statement

But for true statement lighting, here is where the bath or shower can take precedent, from overblown chandeliers, through to lighting modules and showerheads with lights. Of course, the spa-experience has been key to providing lighting in showers, such as Hansgrohe’s modular light as part of its Stark showering collection or Grohe’s F-Digital Deluxe. Grohe UK training manager Michael Gray comments: “There are a huge array of wellness products now available on the market to create luxurious wetrooms, including showers with mood lighting, sream functions and music controlled by Bluetooth. This enables the user to create their own personal spa in the privacy of their home.”

Dan Cook agrees, pointing out: “Coloured LED lighting used sparingly and effectively can also be used, as well as statement lighting, or showerheads that incorporate a light fitting (such as the Nendo Showerhead by Hansgrohe or the Bisazza Bagno Wanders Showerhead – both incredibly eyecatching.”However, he also adds: “There is still a strong trend to having a large pendant, which is often a major focus of the bathroom, above the bath, for example.”


Showroom starting point

However you choose to illuminate a bathroom, whether with a combination of downlight lighting circuits, strip LEDs and illuminated bathroom products, a good starting point is in the environment of a showroom. Joanne Langton confirms: “The best place to start with this is in the showroom – poorly-lit displays won’t inspire customers, but using lighting options effectively will not only ensure your showroom is well-lit but demonstrate the possibilities of good lighting to consumers too.”

So take a look at the vast array of lighting options available from stand alone lighting to illuminated bathroom products and make your showroom – and just importantly your bathroom designs – stand out!

This feature first appeared in Kitchens & Bathrooms News June 2015 issue