Lighting Design for Bedrooms and Bathrooms

Dec 1, 2022 | Uncategorized

The creative and technical relationship including subjective considerations with space, product and light. Following 3 fundamental design principles and their elements.

Light is life, our body responds to it and has done since we walked on the earth. Artificial light is very new, how does it affect our physiological and psychological wellbeing. Biophilic? Is this getting a little deep? It all depends on what you want and how much you want to pay!

Determine your lighting design Brief and Scope, what are you using the space for? Are you trying to add value to your property? how passionate are you about the space? Is it a Residential, Commercial or Historical space? Have a holistic approach considering the environmental impact your design has, can you refurbish? Are the light sources efficient reducing running cost? Ensure the design is as timeless as possible so it lasts.

Lighting relies on installing specific cables to the correct positions, remedial work required to install fittings if it is a refurbishment, controlling the light. How are you going to do this? Switching, dimming or scene setting? All this has to be installed at a cost, before you can install the light.

A summary of the 3 Fundamental Design Considerations and Elements

Cost – Space, Product & Quality

  • a) Installation – is it a simple installation and all planned out?
  • b) Quality level – Standard, Designer, Statement?
  • c) Quantity of product – Core, Key, Peripheral?
  • d) Control – switch, dim or scene setting?

Form – Space, Product & Light Variables

  • e) Variation
    • i. Shape – Round, Square, Linear
    • ii. Size – Nano, Pico etc
  • f) Suitability for the Interior or Exterior
  • g) Discreet – Linear – Decorative – Tailor made or Bespoke
  • h) Contemporary (The present) – Traditional (From a past period) – Architectural (Function over form)
  • i) Position to create light effect – Graze, wash, scallop, highlight, backlight, light pattern

Function – Space, Product & Light Attributes

  • j) Adjustability
  • k) Colour / Surface finish
  • l) Position to generate function – Task, Accent, Effect, General
    • i. Beam angle
    • ii.  CCT
    • iii. CRI
    • iv. Glare UGR
  • m) Maintenance L70 50,000 hrs
  • n) Wellness, Biophilic?
  • o) IP rating, what level do you need for the space?
  • p) Control – switch, dim or scene set?
  • q) Building Regulations

Do you know the answers to the above? Let’s take it step by step and break it down in to various spaces.

Lighting, for Joining our Work, Rest & Play Lifestyle

  • 1) Exterior Lighting Design
    • a) The approach and façade
    • b) Arriving and leaving
    • c) The view from inside out, creating that extra room, terracing close to the house
    • d) Using the exterior space in the dark, getting around / practicality / switching
    • e) Landscape, pool and feature lighting
  • 2) Interior Lighting Design
    • a) The entrance hall, stairs and landing
    • b) Entertaining spaces, kitchen, dining, living, museum, retail
    • c) Bedrooms and bathrooms
    • d) The study or office
    • e) The workshop, garden room, pool and garage
  • 3) General Lighting Topics
    • a) Wellbeing how light effects the body
    • b) Dark skies
    • c) Artificial light evolution, it’s change over the last 100 years, tungsten to LED and beyond
    • d) Controlling natural and artificial light, a technical guide to the complexity of dimming

Let’s look into the detail of how to light the 14 spaces and subjects in 1 – 3 above:

2c) The Bedroom and Bathrooms

The Bedroom is a private space we use to sleep in for 8 hours, we dress for the day and undress for bed, it tends to be a softer more romantic space, we can escape to the privacy of our bedroom. On average we spend 10 hours a day in here, this is more than most rooms, however we are asleep for most of them! Being a personal space not so many guests will admire it.

For sleeping we need darkness. Consider how to keep the natural light out in the summer with blinds or well-fitting curtains. Triangular apex windows may look good, but they are more expensive to window dress and keep the natural light out. In the summer the sun rises in the East at around 0400 and sets in the West after 2200. In winter sunrise is 0800 and sunset is 1600. We will discuss the effect light has on the body when we discuss 3a wellness.

When lighting a bedroom do you have carte blanche to do anything, or are you restricted by the existing wiring? This will have an impact on what you can achieve or affect your budget to re cable. I use £50 as a guide to install each fitting, small downlights may give you a great effect, but you will need more. Design is a compromise, unless you have an open chequebook.

Do you need task lighting to read in bed or in a chair? An adjustable reading spot is best for reading a book, however, if you read a tablet, it is backlit. As you get older you need more light to read, on average when you hit 60 you need twice the light you did when you were 20 and its downhill from here.

Do you have art to light in the bedroom? Using accent lighting creates a moody atmosphere, you don’t need much light for a picture, around 50 lux, to make the picture stand out you need good contrast between the dark surround and the focus of the picture.

Unfortunately, as we get older we get up at night to pop to the loo, having low-level lighting is a great way of finding your way to the bathroom and its surprising how little light you need in the middle of the night, (less then 1 lux!). A 1watt fitting can provide too much light if positioned incorrectly.

Putting together your task, accent and effect lighting, how much more general light do you need to complete the other tasks for using a bedroom or bathroom? Bright general light is good for cleaning, especially when you haven’t got much natural light.

The ensuite or family bathroom needs to be considered along with the bedroom. Do you put your makeup on in the bedroom or bathroom? Lighting from the front to see you face in soft, even lighting is essential, whereas lighting from above can highlight all our laughter lines!

Colour temperature of the light is important to understand for various applications, cooler light we have during the day and warmer light in early mornings and  late evenings, but this can get expensive and complicated, lighting should be simple and intuitive.

Bathing by candle light requires a different lighting scene to a quick shower before work. So lighting needs to be bright and efficient, but at the press of a button, warm and relaxing.

If you install controls, will it be a simple switch / PIR, ideal for the low level bathroom lights, or a dimmer or scene setting? Dimmers for LED’s can be problematical due to the very small loads Leds use, especially if you just have 1 watt.

Modern LED fittings can be very small, you might need to fit remote drivers, where will these be fitted? Well designed LED fittings with just a simple LED and heat sink will last 100,000 hours, the separate or integral driver is full of electronic components, this is normally the first item to fail, electronics don’t like heat. Understanding this is essential to planning the complete lighting design, the designer will ask you personal questions on your lifestyle and how you live, the more we know about you the better, sometimes it’s difficult to imagine how you will live in a house you haven’t set foot in yet. This is the designer’s job to find out and suggest things you won’t have considered, but we do this every day for commercial, residential and historic buildings.

Bedroom & Bathroom Quick Tips to Consider

  • TASK – Lighting for reading
  • ACCENT – Positioning of furniture including artwork, dressing tables, wardrobes mirrors
  • EFFECT – Colour temperature, beam shape and intensity
  • GENERAL – For cleaning
  • CONTROL – Switch, dim, scene setting, e.g. bathroom night light

Positioning and Quantity of Light Fittings

Bedroom – Lower levels of light are required in this space; do you have a central pendant? This can make a good decorative feature but often the ceilings are low, so you have limited choice. Wash the walls with light to make the space brighter, as it’s reflected light you see. This also depends on the room colours used and how much light they absorb. Using a 6 watt fitting every 1250mm is a guide, but if you have traditional bedside lights, these can light a good proportion of the room depending on lamp brightness and shade used. Separate reading lights can also be used to find your way to the bathroom. The more detail of room layouts the better, what bed size? How high is the bed and headboard? What height are the bedside tables?

 Bedroom Lighting Quantities

  • TASK – 2 Reading lights
  • ACCENT – Picture lighting
  • EFFECT – 1 Low level lighting
  • GENERAL – 1 Feature pendant or 2 either side of the bed, or 4 downlights

Bathroom Lighting Quantities

  • TASK – Mirror light
  • ACCENT – Architectural detail
  • EFFECT – Low level PIR or niche lights
  • GENERAL – Downlights over bath, loo and basin

Working with interior designers, architects, installers and builders, communicating the scheme to them helps them give feedback, do not leave it to the last minute. Rushing the design can lead to compromise and extra cost, you want to get it right first time, indecision can be very frustrating for the trades.

A well prepared design and installation can give you 10 years of trouble-free lighting.

Lighting is a lot more complicated than it used to be, but it’s more flexible and discreet now.

In the past lighting was simply 230 volts, now we use around 3V and only 1 – 600mA on the LED, so minimum loads can cause problems if the circuitry is not designed correctly.

If you need any help, we offer CPD’s for Specifiers on design, control and products, we also have drop in sessions at our studio. If you take on our design services we offer site visits for Builders, Installers and Clients. Why not e-mail our sales office at [email protected] to find out more.

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