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How to easily brighten a dark bathroom

Most of us start our day in the bathroom, where – if we’re lucky – we get to bathe in a light-filled space. However, the stark reality is all too often a daily dip in a badly lit room. Maximising light can seem like a challenge, but follow this simple checklist looking at layout, materials and lighting and you’ll soon be on your way to creating a bathroom that feels bright, fresh and inviting. 

Consider your fittings

Simple, white fittings will always enhance the sense of light and space in a bathroom. Additionally, a wall-mounted basin and toilet will leave the floor clear, creating the feeling of more space and helping the whole room feel brighter and fresher.

A glass shower enclosure is a worthwhile investment – the more minimal the framing the better. Concealed, wall-mounted fittings, like this bath tap, also help to create a streamlined look.


Reach for the stars

If your bathroom is directly under a roof, consider fitting a skylight. A powerful source of light, they’re a sleek and contemporary addition to your home. You may even manage to channel some precious sunshine into the room, depending on the orientation of the roof.

Where a skylight is not feasible, a simple sun pipe will help to capture some uplifting natural rays.

Read expert advice on bringing in light from above

Beg, borrow or steal

Where direct natural light is limited, explore the possibility of borrowing light from the hall or landing by means of a simple opal glass door. Opal glass offers complete privacy, but at the same time lets through a very useful amount of light. The idea can also work in reverse, where the hall or landing outside is light-starved.

Explore more beautiful bathrooms on Houzz


Balance light with privacy

If you have large windows, you may need to balance the desire for light with the need for privacy. Shutters and translucent blinds can be a great solution, allowing you to maximise light without compromising on privacy. Opal glass offers a more permanent solution and is less fussy than textured or patterned alternatives.

Whatever the size of window, keeping it squeaky clean – inside and out – will maintain maximum light levels.

Photo by ODKM Architects - Search contemporary bathroom pictures

Think about flooring

A white tiled floor will reflect the most light, but white tiles can be difficult to maintain. They will show up the slightest amount of dirt or dust and can also look a little sterile.

White tiles with toning flecks or veins, such as terrazzo or marble, are much more forgiving. Alternatively, go for pale patterned tiles that include an element of white, like the ones in this simple bathroom, to give the floor a lift and harness the light-reflecting properties of white in a more subtle way.

Tour a luxurious bathroom with a freestanding bath

Fake it
If you’re faced with an internal bathroom space with no natural light, don’t despair. A mirrored recess, like this one, can cleverly create the impression of a window, bringing character and focus to an internal bathroom.

Choose simple fittings, carefully considered lighting and a noise-reducing in-line fan and there’s no reason an internal bathroom can’t become a light and welcoming oasis.

Ace the layout

Whatever the level of natural light in your bathroom, the layout of the sanitaryware  is critical to maintaining a sense of flow and lightness. Keeping the shower – and any tall storage –  to the back of the room will minimise its impact, as will an all-glass shower enclosure.

The bath usually works best beneath a window, with the twin advantages of natural light and a view of the outdoors while you’re soaking in the tub. While the layout will ultimately be determined by your plumbing needs, it’s worth engaging a cooperative plumber to help you explore different options.


Choose floating furniture

To keep your bathroom clutter-free, it’s important to have plenty of storage, such as a wall cabinet and a cupboard or vanity unit.

To minimise the impact of these, go for a floating unit, like this one, which will give the illusion of more floor space. Getting rid of unnecessary clutter will also allow other light-enhancing strategies to work their hardest.

For a wall cabinet, choose mirrored doors to bounce light around the room.

Reflect light with mirrors

A large expanse of mirror reflects light and opens up the space. Placing mirrors at right angles to one another will also provide useful opportunities for viewing yourself from every angle. However, take care to avoid the infinity effect that results where mirrors are placed opposite one another.

Illuminate night and day

Highlighting a vanity unit with carefully considered lighting will ensure the bathing space feels light and airy throughout the day. Go for bright lighting at the mirror for shaving and applying make-up, but add a dimmer switch to the main light so you can create a mellow mood for bathing.

Eva Byrne, Houzz Contributor

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Houzz Experts

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