WRITER | KIM HYTINEN
PHOTO | NEXT LEVEL TILE AND STONE
When it comes to trends in bathroom lighting for 2020, personalization is key. Whether you’re remodeling or just adding some simple updates, lighting plays an important role in the mood and functionality of any room.
Brock Barber of Next Level Tile, based in St. Johns, says that his work isn’t influenced so much by trends as it is by his design vision as he incorporates low-voltage lighting in interesting ways to create extraordinary bathroom landscapes for his clients.
“It’s about the ‘wow’ factor,” said Barber. “I’m just looking to do something a little different. My designs all come from the heart, and they’re truly one of a kind. I take my client’s style and give it a little twist. I like the design and engineering aspects the most,” he said.
Lighting is incredibly important in a bathroom and can be integrated in a way that accentuates tilework and other features. Creative lighting allows other elements in the bathroom to take center stage. Keeping it simple and out of the way is a popular trend for 2020. Some of Barber’s favorite designs include backlighting glass tile, custom-engineered 12-volt LED mirrors, and locally sourced materials. He incorporates low-voltage light strips that can be tucked away for maximum impact and often installs LED heat mats that help to keep the mirror fog-free.
For consumers, shopping for lighting can be overwhelming and confusing. Terminology and technology have changed with the variety of bulbs on the market, and new packaging includes a “lighting facts” panel that indicates brightness, estimated yearly energy cost, life, light appearance, and energy usage. Store shelves are lined with a variety of bulbs: halogen, fluorescent, compact fluorescent (CFL), incandescent, and LED. When choosing lighting, pay close attention to the lumens indicated on the package. Unlike watts, which measure energy use, lumens describe the brightness of a light.
Barber prefers LED lighting for its safety when used in a wet environment as well as its versatility. With four different color temperatures — very warm white, warm white, daylight, and cool white — LED lighting really brightens a room.
“It’s all in the details,” said Barber. “LED lighting is the most energy-efficient option. It’s an affordable way to really rev up a design and take it to the next level.”
It’s always a good idea to accentuate natural light whenever possible through the use of windows, mirrors, and color choices. In addition to general ambient lighting, other options include accent, task, decorative, and layered lighting.
Task lighting is important in the bathroom, as it illuminates a specific area. The vanity or countertop is a great place for task lighting because a well-lit area makes make-up application, hair styling, and shaving much easier. Task lights are usually adjustable and use LED bulbs, which are gentler on our retinas.
Decorative lighting includes sconces, chandeliers, lamps, and other interesting fixtures. Barber adds decorative lighting to his projects by backlighting glass tile and by mounting LED strips under cabinets, in showers, and around windows or mirrors.
According to the American Lighting Association, the most pleasing lighting is a layered design that incorporates ambient, task, and accent lighting. That leaves the lighting landscape wide open for creativity, and in 2020, you get to set the trend.