How to Utilize Natural Light in Your Bathroom


Bathroom lighting. It’s important, right? Not only for safety’s sake—although that’s a major consideration—but because this is the room where you shave, shower and/or apply your makeup. You need to be able to see what you’re doing!

Now straight talk about bathroom lighting should cover not only how much lighting you need, but also what kind. Granted, the need for some artificial light is inescapable. Still, conventional wisdom holds the more natural light you have in the bath, the better. The challenge is getting that light in there and knowing how to make the best use of what you get.

Getting natural light into the bathroom can be easy or next to impossible, depending on the location and design of the room. Ideally, the bathroom will be built on an exterior wall and include at least one window—and the bigger, the better. The task then becomes how to spread that light as far as possible. A few suggestions would include:

  • Covering the window(s) with either film or translucent glass shades that let light in, as opposed to shades or blinds that block it out
  • Painting the walls white (or some shade of it) to reflect the light, while using accessories and accents to add that pop of color
  • Having an open, airy (glass) shower design that reflects light instead of absorbing it
  • Strategically positioning mirrors next to a window to act as “interior windows,” reflecting sunlight into other parts of the room
  • Choosing highly reflective chrome or other shiny metal fixtures and fittings instead of light-sucking wood or matte plastic

You can add light by installing a skylight that will admit a whole lot more natural light than your average window. (Just be sure to choose a model you can open and close either remotely or mechanically to let moisture and odors escape.) If the room is too small for a regular skylight, or you have one and would like to add more light, check out tubular skylights, also known as solar tubes. These let in the light, too, but in smaller, more concentrated cylinders. Replacing a small section of wall with glass blocks is another way to draw in the light without sacrificing privacy.

The real challenge arises when you try to bring light into a windowless interior bathroom. But believe it or not, it can be done. The way you tap into natural light in this case is to install windows (or those handy glass blocks)—in front and back walls and/or over doors—allowing light from exterior windows to shine through.

Now normally, natural light is a good thing you can’t have too much of, but if you find yourself blinded by the glare on a sunny mid-summer’s day, you can buy waterproof, mold-and-mildew-resistant

shutters. Tilt them toward the ceiling to keep bright sunlight coming in under more controlled conditions.

Natural light makes both you and your bathroom look good, plus it’s energy efficient. Good reasons to find ways to bring in the light and stretch those rays. John Wildes is the owner of and has a passion for home improvement, especially in kitchens and bathrooms.

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