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To Pee or Not to Pee?: Holland's Exquisite Bathroom Lighting

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Randall Whitehead EYE Museum of Film Amsterdam bathroom
This restroom is at the EYE Museum of Film in Amsterdam. All of the private stalls are off to the right (you can see the beautiful wood doors reflected in the mirror) and then people come out to wash their hands. There’s continuous lighting above and below the mirrors to create flattering face light. The pristine cubbies below the sinks are also went with linear LED lighting. Photo by Randall Whitehead.

I have just come back from a trip to Holland and I must say that the bathrooms and the public restrooms were not only spotless, they were also quite beautiful. 

Every public bathroom, whether in the train station, the subway, a restaurant or in the museums were quite, for lack of a better word, exquisite. They’re all gender neutral now. Everyone has their own individual stall and the doors go all the way to the floor. What a concept! And the lighting, oh the lighting, is just perfect. There is always side lighting at the mirror or the mirror itself is back lit. It is all done using a LEDs. And the color temperature is very consistent at 2700 K with the 90 CRI. Some of the restaurants went warmer, using 2400 K for a more dimmed incandescent look. Who thought that you could look great in a public restroom? Here I am in Amsterdam, and I’m taking pictures of the bathrooms. That’s just a dedicated I am.

Randall Whitehead European hotel LED bathroom lighting
This hotel uses linear LED’s to backlight the mirror all the way around the perimeter. It produces a soft glow of illumination for your face. Below the floating casework for the sink there is an additional linear LED light, activated by a motion sensor. This is just enough illumination to get you in and out safely without having to turn on any of the other lighting. Photo by Randall Whitehead.

The hotels were absolutely on top of using LED sources with warm color temperatures and high CRIs. I like how all of the lighting is activated when you put room key card in a slot next to the switches. This ensures that when you leave, none of the lights are left on. For me personally, with this method I always knew where my key card was and did’t have to keep searching through my pockets. Again, there’s always good lighting at the mirror, plus there is lighting underneath the floating sink cabinet which comes on with the motion sensor. This way when I stumble into the bathroom in the middle of the night I don’t have to search around for a light switch. It’s also at a low level so it’s not really an interruption to my very important REM sleep.

Randall Whitehead European bathroom LED lighting
Two pairs of very slim LED vanity lights straddle the sinks. They are inset into the wall so that they are flush with the mirror, creating a very clean look. This allows both people have really good cross illumination when they’re in front of the mirrors. Notice too, that there’s lighting below the vanity as well. This not only gives you great middle of the night lighting, it also helps make the bathroom appear larger. Photo by Randall Whitehead.
Randall Whitehead Holland hotel bathroom toilet lighting
This toilet stall is just so lovely. The center section of wall floats in front of the back wall, which is then side lit. A central spotlight illuminates the toilet. It feels very welcoming, very civilized. Thank you, Holland. Photo by Randall Whitehead.


Randall Whitehead headshot

Randall Whitehead is an educator and author on the subject of lighting design. His work has been featured in many magazines, including Architectural Digest, Home & Garden and Esquire. He has appeared as a guest expert on HGTV, Discovery, CNN and Martha Stewart Living Radio.

His Latest book Beautiful Light outlines how to create successful and subtly beautiful LED lighting designs for homes and gardens. Available through Amazon and Rutledge Books.

You can see his entertaining 1-minute instructional videos at furniturelightingdecor.com. And you can follow him on Instagram:  @randall.whitehead


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