My Mom Loses Sleep Over My Decorating!!

Last Updated on December 28, 2015 by Kristi Linauer

My mom has one of those minds that simply won’t turn off, and it often keeps her awake at night. What kept her awake last night? The lighting in John & Alice’s master bathroom. Or rather, my decision to change the lighting in John & Alice’s master bathroom.

What we have is a situation of form vs. function.

Right now John and Alice have a built-in box above the vanity area that has fluorescent tubes that put out a great deal of light. It originally looked like this:

The open area on the bottom of the light box was “framed” with regular moulding, and then had one of those plastic grid things that are often used with fluorescent lighting.

Yesterday, I had my mom help me with a mirror project over at John & Alice’s house (more on that tomorrow), and I shared with her my plan to have someone come change out the fluorescent lighting for recessed lighting, and then drywall the open area on the bottom of the box (with holes cut out for the new lights, of course).

This conversation seems to have kept my mom awake last night. You see, a couple of years ago, I redesigned her master bathroom. It went from this…

to this…

And while she absolutely loves her bathroom, the one thing she’s never been pleased with is the lighting.  We decided to do some recessed lighting, but we ran into an issue with placement because of the ceiling joists.  So to supplement the lighting, we added sconces on the mirrors.  It seems like it would be enough lighting, but it’s still not.  This morning, I got this e-mail from her:

Ok, I should never get involved in your decorating ideas. Here it is 3:00 am and I’ve been lying in bed for 30 minutes wide awake and thinking about the bathroom lighting!!! I’m still concerned about changing the lighting because our bathroom lighting is the one thing that I’m not real happy about. It is just not good for putting on makeup.  And I have noticed that ever since we had our bathroom redone Jon misses places on his chin when he shaves. He never did that before and he never does it when we are at Mernie’s [that’s my grandmother], or when we stay in a hotel. So, I got up, went in our bathroom, turned just the overhead lights on, stepped back about the distance that yours would be under the lights, and looked at myself in a mirror. Not a good look. It gives me dark eye sockets and emphasizes every wrinkle. Then I went in the hall bathroom and looked with those lights over the mirror. Better, since the lights are turned toward the ceiling making a somewhat indirect lighting. But even then, not the best for putting on makeup, etc. I still have shaded eye sockets, but not nearly as harsh as it was in our bathroom. Then I thought about how, every time I go to Mernie’s, I am impressed with how much better her light is for putting on makeup. It is just a fluorescent strip light above the mirror, but it gives a much better all over light. It is kind of like in photography when you do portraits, you use lights bounced into a reflective umbrella rather than a light turned directly toward the person. That is so that the light spreads and fills in eye sockets, wrinkles, etc. With fluorescent being long and softer light, it makes for better coverage. It does the same thing as the umbrella. So, I am very nervous about you changing the lighting over the dressing table. I know that as far as decorating goes the current setup is not what you want, but sometimes you also have to think about functionality. Living with it can be very frustrating sometimes. I really would rethink the whole lighting situation. And that is my two cents worth. I hope I can sleep now.

While I was initially horrified that she suggested I keep fluorescent lighting, I can’t deny the fact that when that light is turned on in J & A’s bathroom, it puts out great light that isn’t too direct, and isn’t too harsh.  If I put a 4″ recessed light above each area, the lighting will definitely become direct, and that will probably cause it to be harsh.

So, I’m going to keep the fluorescent lighting.  **gasp!!**  I know, I know.  This is the second design decision (the first regarding my chandelier) I’ve made this week alone based on my mom’s practical suggestions. 

So tell me…when it comes to form vs. function, which one more often wins out with you?

Psstt…This bathroom is finished now!  Want to see the completed bathroom makeover?  Click here to see the whole before and after.

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  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    October 28, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    That's a tough one! I think that especially in a bathroom where you want good lighting for makeup, etc. function should be king. Anywhere else, though, form would win out for me.

    Earl Grey – a little blog full of big inspiration.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Catherine Banks
    October 28, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    When in doubt…do what Jean says. (and probably even when you aren't in doubt.)

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Kristi's Mom
    October 28, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    Oh my goodness! I can't believe you actually put my email in your blog! At 3 AM it is amazing if it even makes sense. Oh well, I still stand by what I said. Glad you are "seeing the light." 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Kim - A Creative Spirit
    October 28, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    Function usually wins out ESPECIALLY in the bathroom……

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    October 28, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    Mom's always right! 😉

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Green Gracie Home
    October 28, 2010 at 5:45 pm

    I agree with the form…we re-did a bath and it is sooo dark. Luckily it is for boys and they could give a hoot, but I always want to turn on a spotlight in there. Are there any prettier covers on the market?

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    October 28, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    Function wins in my life. I'd love a chandelier in my bedroom, but we just gotta have a ceiling fan. I agree on lighting..function wins every time. Dang it.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Maya's Musings
    October 28, 2010 at 8:12 pm

    Mom's are so smart…sometimes you just have to go with their advice 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    October 29, 2010 at 12:03 am

    Definately function…. not only because of everything your mom said, but I've found, as I age, my eyes require more light. (I used to roll my eyes when an older person would put an object closer to the light source when trying to read smaller print…. sorry Mom and grandma!) NOT saying your client or your mom is "older!" Just a fact of life. 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    November 4, 2010 at 5:37 pm

    Function definitely wins! And hopefully I can fit in beauty! Which I guess is kind of obvious since my blog name is, after all, Where Beauty Meets Function. 🙂

    My ceiling fans are the perfect example. I'd love a beautiful chandelier in my bedroom….but I need air to sleep! So the fan won!! But I lost the brass fan as quick as possible. 😉