Ask Wirecutter: How Do I Improve the Lighting in My Dingy Bathroom? – The New York Times
Ask Wirecutter, an advice column written by Annemarie Conte, explores the best approaches to buying, using, and maintaining stuff. Email your biggest product-related problems to [email protected]
The lighting in my windowless bathroom is a mishmash of bulbs that came with my apartment when I moved in. They’re either too dim or too bright, and together they create a dingy yellow and clinical blue ambiance. Whether I’m getting ready in the morning or relaxing in the bath in the evening, I want my bathroom to feel warm and inviting, but also fresh and clean. In the few instances I’ve attempted to research lighting, I get overwhelmed with all the choices: bulb types, wattage, color ranges, durability, for overhead or vanity lighting, etc. Can you please help me?
I don’t blame you for being overwhelmed. When I asked our experts—who are highly conversant in lumens, watts, and degrees Kelvin—to speak to me really slowly while I was trying to solve this for you, I struggled too. By the third time my eyes started to glaze over—and they wouldn’t let me simply offer you a nice scented candle to kick up that ambiance and call it a day—I realized I should just give them the floor.
So let me introduce our guest columnists, smart-home editor Jon Chase and senior staff writer Rachel Cericola. They discussed your question at length and pulled together some excellent options. Without further ado, Jon and Rachel:
First of all, we completely sympathize with your plight, especially because at least one of us (Jon) has endured a similarly awful bathroom ambiance, lit by a single, anemic bulb for more than a decade. It’s the pits. Your particular issue is all the more complicated as a renter, since you may be unable (or not allowed) to alter the existing fixtures and switches, and you may or may not have glass covers that affect the light quality. So we’ve provided a few options to suit most any scenario.
Swap out the bulb
The quick and easy solution—if you don’t own your place or don’t want to fiddle with wiring—is to simply standardize all of your light bulbs so that they are the same type, color temperature, and brightness. We recommend LED bulbs, which use a fraction of the energy of traditional bulbs and also provide far more attractive light than CFL/fluorescent bulbs.
Comfort is all about picking the right color temperature, from 5,000 K to 2,700 K.
More than any other factor, color temperature will affect the ambiance of your sanctum sanctorum. The color temperature refers to the color the bulb produces, from warm to cool, and it’s measured in degrees Kelvin, or K. Consider 3,000 K or bright white; this is a whiter hue than what you’d want in a bedroom, and so it makes it easier to see your skin clearly in a mirror. Whatever you do, don’t opt for 4,000 or 5,000 K daylight bulbs, which are what produce those awful blueish lights that you associate with parking lots or late-night visits to a 7-Eleven.
An easy choice is the Cree 60 W Equivalent Bright White A19 Dimmable Exceptional Light Quality LED Light Bulb, the companion model to our top pick …….