Layer the Lighting in Your Zen Bathroom

Achieve balance and symmetry by choosing a variety of lighting sources for your Zen-inspired bathroom.
DP_Hammerschmidt-bathroom-floating-vanity_s3x4

DP_Hammerschmidt-bathroom-floating-vanity_s3x4

Photo by: Design by Velvet Hammerschmidt

Design by Velvet Hammerschmidt

If you need a respite from your busy life, consider transforming your bathroom into a personal refuge. Follow this simple seven-step path to create an authentic, Zen-inspired design.

Light affects our moods, making us cheerful or contemplative; the lack of sunlight can even make us depressed. As with all aspects of a Zen bathroom your goal is to achieve graceful balance, in this case between types of lighting and light and shadow.

Base your lighting plan on natural light from a window or even from a room adjacent to the bath. Use window treatments that offer privacy and create diffused light, such as stained glass, window films and rice paper shades.

Choosing a variety of interior lighting sources creates a layered lighting scheme, which lets you achieve balance and flexibility. Hang canister or pendant lights over the sink so you have a place shave or put on your makeup. Placing sconces on either side of the mirror will light your entire face without shadows so you can do those delicate tasks with ease. Install indirect lights to quiet the room when you want to soak in the tub. Dimmers will help you achieve the right balance between natural and electrical light.

Architect Michael Morris of Morris Sato Studio in New York City prefers to use as little direct light as possible. "In traditional Japanese architecture," he says, "the moon's reflection was often viewed in a still pond from a palace balcony or platform." While it's not likely that you'll have a reflecting pool outside your bathroom, you can still create serenity with reflected light.

One way to do this is to up-light cabinets and create a halo on the ceiling; you can also add sconces to reflect light on walls. If you eschew direct light but still need task lighting, designer Jodi Fitzpatrick of Renata Resources in Fresno, Calif., suggests installing a lighted retractable makeup mirror in a cabinet or medicine cabinet. To add drama, highlight a solitary piece of art or a single, perfect vase with a spotlight.

Not sure what fixtures to choose? There are a host of Zen-inspired lighting fixtures on the market. Designer Merrie Fredericks of Design Concepts Plus in Newtown Square, Penn., says that lighting from the Craftsman period also works well with Zen design.

Next Up

Lighting Guide

Essentials of a well-lit space

A Look at Different Types of Lighting

There are many types of lighting that can be used in various rooms of the home or office.

Bright Idea: Home Lighting

Don't underestimate the transformative power of good lighting. Learn about ambient, accent and task options.

Decorative Lights for the Holidays

See the different kinds of lights people use to make their homes a Christmas wonderland.

Basic Types of Kitchen Lighting

Tips on the three types of lighting most commonly found in kitchens.

Six Tips to Light Up Your Kitchen

Give potential homebuyers a fresh look at your kitchen with a combination of new ambient, task and decorative lighting.

Kitchen Lighting: Brilliance on a Budget

These tips for low-cost kitchen lighting are kind to your wallet and keep your kitchen shining in style.

Kitchen Lighting and Flooring

Two of the most important elements in any kitchen are good lighting and flooring. Our experts share the different options for both.

Kitchen Lighting Tips

Choose the right type of kitchen lighting with these tips.

Basic Flashlights and Work Lights

There are various types of flashlights and work lights available, and this guide makes it easy to choose the necessary lights for any workshop.

Get Social With Us

We love to DIY. You love to DIY. Let's get together.

Discover Made + Remade

See the latest DIY projects, catch up on trends and meet more cool people who love to create.

Make It. Fix It. Learn It. Find It.