The glorious new tub, the beautiful new fixtures, and the sleek countertops always get top billing in the bathroom remodel. But don't forget one of the players most worthy of the spotlight - the lighting.
Lighting designers say a mix of different lighting types is essential in the bathroom to help blend all the bathrooms elements and create a unified look.
Unlike other rooms of the house, the bathroom is crammed with an assortment of materials and finishes.
"You have wall tile, floor tile, shower tile, faucet hardware, towel bars, wallpaper and paint all in a space often smaller than 100 square feet," said Dan Blitzer, a Manhattan-based educator for the American Lighting Association.
There are three general types of lighting: general lighting provides overall illumination; task lighting provides light for a specific task, like reading, homework, and computer work; and accent lighting puts the spotlight on a piece of art, plants, or other favorite possession.
Sara Susanka, a Minnesota architect best known for her books, The Not So Big House (Taunton Press, 1998), Creating the Not So Big House (Taunton Press, 2000), and Not So Big Solutions for Your Home (Taunton Press, 2002), says a mix of lighting in different intensities adds interest and depth to a small space. For example, she suggests combining uplighting in a corner, a pool of light from a table lamp and accent lighting on an interesting feature.
"It's the contrast that makes it (the space) feel bigger," Susanka says.
Meanwhile, lighting experts say that homeowners undertaking bathroom remodeling projects are often in the dark when it comes to thinking about lighting.
"When we look at the amount of money that people invest in building or renovating bathrooms, a proper lighting plan has the potential to deliver dramatic results, costs only a small fraction of the project budget, and yet is often lacking or overlooked," said Gary Taylor, president of Living Lighting in Ontario.
Lighting experts suggest you focus on all the elements of the bathroom, including:
Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse says on its web site that the options in bathroom lighting have dramatically increased over the past few years. One of the most popular trends is "design and combine" bath bars in which you choose the wall bracket (or fitter) you like the best and then select from the many available styles of glass shades to go with it.
And if you're afraid you might overdo the lighting, don't be.
"You can never have too much light in the bathroom," said Todd Phillips, president of lighting manufacturer Quoizel. "It's easy to install a dimmer control to reduce the amount of light to create a mood."