Category Archives: Lighting

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.

Don’t Get Caught in The Dark In Your Kitchen – 13 Must Read Tips

Cambria Quartz Counter TopIs your kitchen dark or dull? Is something missing from the design? Maybe the solution is to change the lighting. Here are some tips that will help you get the most out of your kitchen lighting. If you are looking for some more advice, or a reliable company to do some work on your kitchen, call the The Kitchen and Bath Company of Palo Alto.  Meet with  Tim Hmelar and his team and let them help you with their years of knowledge and experience.


Keep the Important Areas Well Lit

Maybe this is obvious, but sometimes people can get carried away with feature lighting and forget about lighting for functionality. Make sure that your preparation areas, walkways, sinks and stove tops are well lit. This will make using your kitchen much easier and safer. Think about functionality first, then worry about the mood lighting later.

  • Put one or two lights over the sink area that are on their own switch
  • Use dimmers whenever possible
  • All kitchen entrances  need to have a switch connected to a light.
  • If there is an exterior door in the kitchen make sure you have switched outdoor lighting.
  • Even if you have pendant lighting over a table you may want to add 2 to 4 recessed lights above table (if you have space in the ceiling)
  • 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.
  • Consider under cabinet lighting – I’ve never had a client that doesn’t love it!
  • If installing recessed lights try to center the light with the front edge of the counter top.  If you’re using recessed lighting for general counter top lighting; don’t install it to far from the front edge of the counter top or you will get a shadow on your work area.
  • Pendant lighting (lighting suspended from the ceiling) can really add life to a remodel; especially over peninsula or island counter top areas.
  • 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.
  • Don’t worry about recessed lighting being installed  perfectly symmetrical on the ceiling.  Sometimes ceiling joists prevent installing recessed lights exactly where you want them.  Most people never pay attention to the location of the recessed cans on the ceiling.
  • If your upper cabinets don’t go all the way to the ceiling you may want to consider up lighting.    It looks great and is also easy on the eyes late at night while you’re getting a midnight snack.
  • Consider installing at least one wall switch with a light in it at each entrance for ease in locating switches when entering the kitchen.


Recessed Can Light Fixture
Recessed Can Light Fixture

Today’s Kitchens Have Many Uses

Because of this, they need versatile lighting. Not only are they our meal preparing area, but they can also double as dining rooms, entertaining areas and homework or office areas.  All of these uses will need different lighting. Soft lighting for entertaining and dining, bright lighting in the right places for cooking safety and the right type of lighting for homework or office tasks to avoid eyestrain.

Use Natural Light

If you have the opportunity, embrace natural light. It can make breakfasts more appealing – artificial lights are incomparable to the warmth and brightness of the sun’s light. It can also save you a bit of money on electricity.

Hanging Island LightLight From Multiple Angles

If you only have ceiling lights in your kitchen, it is likely that cabinets can cast shadows over important areas. Mix things up and maybe get some LED under-cabinet lights or light your backsplash from behind. This can help get rid of any dark corners.

If you need help brightening up your kitchen or home give Tim Hmelar a call at (650)888-4745.