Category Archives: Bathroom

Everything You Need to Know About Lighting Your Bathroom

Is your bathroom missing something? Is the design nearly perfect, but something’s a little bit off? Maybe it’s your lighting. Whether you are unsatisfied with your current bathroom lighting or considering some remodeling, here are some tips on how to get the optimal lighting in your bathroom. If you need any further help, contact Tim Hmelar and his team from The Kitchen and Bath Company of Palo Alto. They’ll be happy to answer any questions and give you the advice you need.

If you want your bathroom to have the perfect lighting, you need to have a lighting plan that addresses all of the roles that lighting can play.


Task Lighting

This is the first kind of lighting that we need to consider. It’s pretty straightforward. . . for doing tasks. The vanity lighting is important for being able to see the head and face for grooming purposes. Don’t put the ceiling fixture directly over the mirror if you can avoid it. It will cast shadows on the face, which can make grooming more difficult than it needs to be.

The best options are sconces or vertical fixtures on either side of the mirror. These will cast even light across the face, but unfortunately not every bathroom design can accommodate these without major renovations. If this isn’t an option, try to install a long horizontal light over the mirror – ideally over two feet long, so that it can cast an even light across the face.

The second important kind of task lighting is for the shower or tub surround. In small bathrooms with clear glass doors, it may not be necessary, however a recessed light above the shower or bath tub can really brighten things up.  Most building departments normally require that any lighting in a wet location have a lense that  has both safety glass and moisture protection properties.  The great thing about most LED lights is that they are rated to be installed in shower and tub surrounds.  


Vanity Lighting

In addition to your task lighting across the vanity, you also want to make sure that shadows for the cheeks, eyes and chin can be removed. Lights on either side of the mirror can solve these problems.


Ventiliation Fan Lighting

Most manufacturers of ventilation fans offer models with lights and night lights built in the fan.  There’s even brands of fans that are designed as a recessed light with a fan unit integrated with the light.  If you’re planning on installing a fan with a light unit in it; it is strongly recommended putting the different lights on timers or occupancy sensors.  An example of a fan with a night light and regular light would have three switches; one for the night light, one for the regular light and one for the fan.


Helpful Lighting Tips

  • Many building departments require that if you’re using incandescent light bulbs (regular light bulbs) in your bathroom that the lights have a manually activated occupancy switch that shuts off automatically when the room is vacant. Want to learn more about Occupancy Sensor switches check out our blog post What The Heck is an Occupancy Sensor Switch?  and Why You Might Need One.
  • Make sure if you are adding recessed lights to an existing space that the recessed can is rated for your application, especially if there is insulation in the ceiling space.
  • Using the wrong rated recessed light may cause a fire hazard if the light housing comes in contact with insulation.
  • Consider installing lighting in the toe kick of your vanity – it provides great lighting at the floor lighting the room up at night while being soft on the eyes.
  • Consider adding a wall outlet with an integrated night light that turns on and off automatically depending on how much light is in the room.
  • Consider installing a wall switch with a light in it for ease in locating switches when entering the bathroom.
  • Many building departments require that all wall outlets in the bathroom are dedicated outlets.  That means no other items in the bathroom may use the same electricity that is feeding the outlets.  A common mistake is for remodeling contractors to install lighting using the electricity from the outlets only to find out the building inspector won’t allow it.



Have the freedom to change the mood and install dimmers. With these, you can avoid harsh lighting when you feel like relaxing, but still have the bright lights when you need to look at something in the mirror. Dimmed lights can also help to conserve energy and make the bulbs last longer.

If you have lighting questions, give Tim Hmelar of The Kitchen and Bath Company of Palo Alto a call at (650)888-4745.

What the Heck is an Occupancy Sensor Switch? and Why You May Need One
Occupancy Sensor Switch
Occupancy Sensor Switch

Looking for a way to make midnight snack and bathroom visits a bit easier? When you are half asleep, the last thing you want to do is fumble around trying to find the light switch. Occupancy sensors are the solution. The devices use infrared, ultrasonic or microwave technology to sense when someone enters the room and it turns the lights on or off automatically.  



Title 24 LogoTitle 24 of The California Building Code requires occupancy sensor switches be used in bathrooms if you are using incandescent light bulbs to light the room.  The occupancy sensor switch replaces the existing manual switch you may already have and normally can be  wired using the existing electrical box in the wall.  However, you should be aware that sometimes the occupancy switch doesn’t fit in the existing  electrical box and if there is not a ground wire in the electrical box you will need to do some additional electrical work.  Some building departments, like the City of Palo Alto require that the occupancy sensor has the ability to be manually turned on and that it will automatically shut off when the room is vacant.

City of Palo Alto Electrical billNot only do occupancy sensors make life easier, but they are also great for saving power. If the kids are constantly running through the house, switching the lights on and then going back out, it’s going to really drive up the electricity bill. Occupancy sensors can fix the problem and saving electricity is not only good for your wallet, but great for the environment.

Motion sensors can be mounted to walls or ceilings and are great for convenience and security for use indoors and outdoors. There are two types of sensor, occupancy sensors and vacancy sensors. They are pretty self-explanatory, as the occupancy sensors turn lights on when someone walks into a room, while the vacancy sensors turn them off once they leave. More advanced occupancy sensors can be adjusted to turn on or off by the number of occupants and their direction of motion. The sensors can also be set with a delay timer, so that they don’t deactivate the lights if you don’t move for a while.

5 Features to Consider When Buying a New Toilet


Admit it: According to Tim Hmelar of The Kitchen and Bath Company of Palo Alto your toilet is the last household “appliance” on your list. You only remember it when you need to use it, clean it, or fix a crucial problem within it; after all, why worry about your toilet when it’s working just fine? When your toilet finally bites the dust, or you need to pick a new toilet for your remodel, though, you need to choose a replacement ASAP. If you aren’t a frequent toilet-shopper, or a bathroom expert, selecting the right toilet for your bathroom can be a confusing and somewhat overwhelming adventure to embark on. Don’t panic; instead, follow these five tips to ensure your new toilet fits both your bathroom and your toilet wish list.

  1. Start with the Seat

The seat of a toilet is crucial. Seriously, it’s the most important feature. You’re going to be spending years of your life upon this throne; make it comfortable and perfectly suited for your tush by choosing a toilet seat that you truly like. Most toilets come in one of two sizes: elongated, which features a larger bowl and seat, or round, a more circular variety that’s as old as the toilet (or outhouse) itself. Although round toilet bowls make for a space-saving option, your bum will most likely prefer the elongated varieties for lengthy visits.

  1. Pick the Perfect Height

You’ve considered the shape and size of your toilet; now it’s time to think about its height. That’s right – more than just a comfy seat matters! Typically, toilets are available in two different heights: Universal Height, also known as Comfort Height, and Standard Height. Universal Height rises 17 to 18 inches above the floor of your bathroom, while Standard Height sits at a slightly lower 15 inches high. Although it might not seem like a serious consideration, you’ll want to think about how much you want to squat. Want a quick glute workout every time you’ve got to go? A lower toilet will do the trick, and it’s also a great choice if you have small kids. Not concerned with height? Stick with Universal, the height most commonly used in public places.

  1. Determine Your Ideal Build

A toilet is a toilet is a toilet – or so you might think, before you dive headfirst into the world of bathroom upgrades and remodels. If you need a new porcelain throne, why not purchase one that’s easy to clean and easy to repair, should problems arise? Toilets are built in two different ways. Some are one single, solid piece of construction, which often come with a higher price tag and cleaning simplicity. If you’re worried about toilet troubles, you can also purchase a two-piece toilet. This variety is easy to install and provides quick, simple repair access, but does attract more dirt – you won’t want to forget to clean all of its seams and cracks.

  1. Don’t Forget About Style

Your toilet is only there to handle your messiest liquids and solids… and everything in between. It’s a sturdy and handy appliance, but it’s not necessarily one known for its style. When you’re shopping for a new toilet, why not consider a stylish and attractive toilet? Your bathroom upgrade will become a sight to see. You don’t have to stick with boring, bland white; you can choose from a multitude of colors depending on the toilet manufacturer. Celebrities love the brand, so why shouldn’t you enjoy a luxurious toilet, too? After all, we’ve all had to turn to our toilet when nauseous. Why not make sure there’s some style to your flu episodes, and your everyday bathroom adventures?

  1. Check Water Requirements for Your Favorites

It’s not something most of us would consider when picking out a new toilet for a last-minute bathroom remodel, but water usage is an important factor. Your toilet is a significant contributor to your monthly water budget – and if you’re a big-time flusher, you’re probably going to want to save yourself some toilet water bucks. Check out the toilets you’re considering, and see how many gallons of water they require for each flush. Yep, that’s right… you need to know just how much water it takes to get rid of your unpleasant waste. To save money, try to choose a toilet model that uses less than 1.28 gallons per flush, a popular state-specific requirement.

Make shopping for your sudden bathroom upgrade an easy process by keeping these five new toilet suggestions in mind. With the right style, right size, and right technical specs, you’ll be happy with your newly purchased toilet for years to come.