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The Daylight Bathroom: How To Maximize Natural Light In Your Bathroom

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Sustainability and energy concerns have brought daylight design and integration to the forefront of the lighting design practice. Even in bathrooms, this concept is gaining much popularity.

Many homeowners now want to maximize natural light in their bathrooms.

When we talk about maximizing natural light in the bathroom, ensuring you make decisions about where the bathroom light will go and how light will interact with the architecture, we are talking about the controllable aspects of daylighting, as well as electric light.

The Daylight Bathroom: How To Maximize Natural Light In Your Bathroom
Courtesy: EG Interiors

So, if you’re looking to remodel your bathroom and ensure the lighting is tasteful, having a lighting designer earlier on in the project is necessary.

They will consider daylighting factors including your house’s orientation, glazing, shading structures, and even the landscaping.

Daylight Vs Sunlight

The Daylight Bathroom: How To Maximize Natural Light In Your Bathroom
Courtesy: Amystorm and Co

The clear, bluish light coming in via a north-facing window is considered daylight. That means, there is no direct sunlight, but only the light from the crisp, blue sky.

Daylight differs from sunlight in that sunlight has a warmer, yellower quality to it – it is more direct, especially as the sun rises and sets since the sun rays stream in through your windows.

Since natural light comes from the sun, it connects us to the natural world, and in small quantities beaming through the windows, depression is staved off and it invigorates your spirit and energy levels. It can also deeply relax us.

Usually, our bathrooms are brightened by sunlight when the natural light directly radiates in the morning sunrise, or evening sunset.

During the day, we mostly enjoy the daylight. So, read on to learn how to design your bathroom with daylight.

How To Introduce Natural Light To Your Bathroom

The Daylight Bathroom: How To Maximize Natural Light In Your Bathroom
Courtesy: EG Interiors

When designing for lighting in your bathroom, natural light can be assessed and controlled, and, as such, it deserves the same type of design scrutiny that we apply to electric light.

We should approach our spaces with the intent to determine what surfaces and objects within our bathroom decor will benefit from the addition of natural light, just as we do with electric light.

To introduce natural light in your bathroom, it is important to choose your preference, that is, decide on the two main ways to design your bathroom with daylight:

1. Functional daylight – the careful introduction of daylight into your space to serve task functions and define spaces within your bathroom. Therefore, it is generally diffuse, even light that can accommodate long-term visual comfort.

The Daylight Bathroom: How To Maximize Natural Light In Your Bathroom
Courtesy: Kohler

2. Daylight accenting – this is a more dramatic and obvious use of daylight. It is used to inspire certain moods and create distinct visual interest. Integrate this lighting concept in a luxurious bathroom where emotional impact is the priority–think a spa master bathroom.

Also, be informed that daylight enters our spaces in a number of different ways and takes on different textures accordingly, namely:

  • If it enters as direct sunlight, it is excessively bright and leads to situations of glare and unacceptable contrast within your bathroom decor.
  • If the sunlight is diffused i.e. the diffused light of the sky, then it is softer and gives a much more manageable source of light. NOTE: Sunlight can also be diffused artificially through skylights, windows, curtains e.t.c

What Affects the Amount of Natural Light Your Bathroom Receives?

The Daylight Bathroom: How To Maximize Natural Light In Your Bathroom
Courtesy: Ksneed Design

The first step in recognizing how to make the most of daylight is to identify the design opportunities based on the orientation of your house that determines the amount of daylight your bathroom receives.

Some of the factors that determine the amount of daylight you will receive in the bathroom include:

1. Latitude

The closer you are to the North and South Pole of the earth, the lower the sun will be in your sky throughout the year.

Therefore, a project on the equator has the potential for the sun to be directly overhead much of the year, while a project in the Arctic will never see the sun high in the sky.

Also, high latitudes i.e farther from the Equator, and summer months will mean a high sun angle and short shadows, therefore, longer days and warmer temperatures; while low latitudes and winter months mean a low sun and long shadows, therefore, shorter days and cooler temperatures.

2. Cardinal Orientation

The sun rises in the east and sets in the west.

Therefore, bathroom spaces facing these directions have the potential for direct sunlight exposure in the mornings and evenings of every day.

3. Seasonal Sun Angles

During summer, the sun angle is highest when the northern hemisphere is tilted towards the sun. Therefore, the sun appears highest in the sky and provides longer days and more warmth.

On the other hand, the sun angle is lowest as the northern  hemisphere is tilted away from the sun during winters.

Thus, the sun appears the lowest in the sky, the days are shorter, and thus the temperatures are colder. 

Therefore, during the summer, even our bathrooms will experience more natural light the sun will be higher in the sky, whereas during the winter, it will ride lower.

4. North Light / South Light

Living in the northern hemisphere means that the sun will always arc across the sky to the south. Thus. south-facing spaces have the potential for direct sunlight all day, while north-facing spaces will receive exclusively skylight.

This principle is obviously reversed for those living in the southern hemisphere.

Therefore, depending on the factors above, your bathroom will either be exposed to much or less natural light. It’s unfortunate that some spaces will be utterly dark, demanding more artificial lighting.

But, in this article, we share ways to maximize natural lighting in your bathroom to ensure your space is well-lit and inspiring.

How To Maximize Daylight In Your Bathroom

Exposure to daylight has been linked to improvements in our wellbeing and mood, and in the bathroom, natural light can make the space lighter and brighter and give the feeling of more space.

If you want to flood your bathroom with natural light, these tips will help you get started:

1. Add Sidelight Systems

Sidelight systems, in the form of large windows and wall windows at eye level, are the clearest example of sidelight entering your bathroom space.

They provide access to exterior views thus, a connection with nature, weather, and natural light (though not evenly distributed across the space, especially if large).

If your bathroom receives direct sun sidelight, consider diffusing techniques that also increase your bathroom’s privacy like:

  • Using high clerestories in walls to increase daylight delivery deeper in large bathrooms.

Just be sure to keep your windows clean to let in more natural light. Take care of them by wiping them down thoroughly both inside and out.

Scrub the window with your favorite cleaning solution and a clean cloth, then squeegee dry to avoid streaks.

While you’re at it, clean your windowsill, wipe down your window panes, and clear any dust that may have accumulated on your blinds or above your window frame.

You may also want to use sheers for your window treatments in bright, white colors to help diffuse the light and update the look.

2. Add Toplighting

A toplighting scheme applies to bathrooms located in single-story houses or on the top floor only of the building. Skylights are the best ways to introduce toplighting in the bathroom.

Ways to maximize your bathroom’s toplighting include:

  • Wall wash toplighting – this lighting technique provides daylight from above through a linear skylight to wash an interior bathroom wall.
The Daylight Bathroom: How To Maximize Natural Light In Your Bathroom
Courtesy: Casey Cdunn

Wall wash toplighting balances daylight from window walls, brightening your bathroom interiors, and making it seem more spacious.

  • Central toplighting using a skylight (or cluster of skylights) to provide high levels of even, balanced daylight across the entire bathroom.
  • Use tubular skylights for toplighting in bathrooms with relatively deep roof cavities. They are especially good for small spaces, such as toilet rooms and bathrooms.

You May Also Like: Can You Add A Skylight To A Bathroom? Here’s How to Do It Right

3. Daylighting From The Side & Top

Toplighting may be combined with sidelighting in the form of view windows on external bathroom walls.

Since the toplighting aperture provides most of the ambient daylight, smaller windows can be judiciously spaced in exterior walls to optimize views and valuable wall space can be relinquished for other needs like vertical storage.

4. Paint Your Walls Bright & Light

The Daylight Bathroom: How To Maximize Natural Light In Your Bathroom
Courtesy: Amystorm and Co

Darker colors can absorb natural light, and make your bathroom look dimmer than it really is. To lighten up your space, use fresh, bright, and light colors, such as cream, eggshell, or other shades of white.

Paint the ceiling a lighter shade than the walls to make the space feel even larger, lighter, and airier.

The Daylight Bathroom: How To Maximize Natural Light In Your Bathroom

Other strategies like using reflective surfaces and accents like large mirrors and metal hardware within your bathroom will help maximize the natural light streaming into your bathroom.

Now, supplement your bathroom with artificial lighting for a more tasteful space. Here is a complete guide on How to Light a Bathroom Properly.