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Bathroom lighting is the key to a great finish

Bathroom lighting is the key to a great finish

lt can be hard to decide where to position the lights until you have actually started to use the room but, as a general rule, over-light rather than under light. Taking a light source out, later on, is far less expensive and disruptive than adding one after all the decoration has been completed.

Place a light near the bath to allow for reading or shaving, light the mirror over the basin, positioning the fittings to throw light on to you rather than the mirror in order to reduce glare, and ensuring that the light or lights are sufficiently wide to illuminate the sides as well as the front of your face. Pay particular attention to dark corners or recesses; a ludicrously placed light focused on an object or picture can transform a dreary corner into a feature of the room.

If the room contains cupboards, fit lights inside that come on automatically when the doors are opened; this is one example of a highly practical and effective 'extra' that is easy to install while the bathroom is undergoing construction, but awkward later on. Heating and ventilation are also of prime importance. A heated towel rail will provide a modicum of warmth but most of this will be absorbed by the towels. A bathroom radiator or a radiator and towel rail combined can help to increase the heat, as can underfloor heating if installed during construction. Don't forget that towel rails warmed by the heating system will not function in the summer when the heating is turned off. Even in hot weather, it is still much nicer to have warm, dry towels so either chooses a rail that can be connected to the hot-water system or substitute an electric one. lt is not essential to have a window in a bathroom but, given the hot, steamy atmosphere and the inevitable condensation, it is vital to have adequate ventilation.

Building regulations require that an extractor fan be fitted in the absence of an openable window and it is most usual for the fan to work in conjunction with the light. Fans can be programmed to stay on for some twenty minutes or so after the light has been switched off. Hair dryers, fan heaters and similar electrical equipment are not permitted in bathrooms but larger appliances such as washing machines or wall heaters can be installed, provided that they are permanently wired into sealed sockets. They must not be positioned within reach of anyone using water, so should be well out of the way of the bath or shower. Telephones are permitted in bathrooms but again, for reasons of safety, it is not advisable to have an ordinary telephone socket in the room. The effects of steam and condensation on the telephone itself must also be taken into account. One solution is to have a telephone on an extra-long lead in the next-door room or to install a portable, cordless model which can be carried in and out of the bathroom.

Safety first

When space is restricted, it may be necessary to extend the bathroom's role to include washing - and sometimes drying - clothes and bed linen. Appliances can be installed within bathrooms but they should be positioned well out of reach of the bath and shower and must be safely wired. In this bathroom, for reasons of safety and aesthetics, the machines have been concealed behind sliding mirrored doors. When the doors are closed, the mirror serves to increase the feeling of space within the bathroom, creating no break in the all-white scheme; when open, they offer easy access to the appliances and, with the doors sliding back one behind the other, take up minimal space.

Washing machines and tumble dryers tend to generate a lot of condensation, and if you plan to install such appliances you should make sure the bathroom is well ventilated. As this room has no windows, the owners have installed ventilation ducts, which also provide a casing for the inset spotlighting.