Tags: Design Guides & Tips
By: Shades of Light
With walls freshly painted and papered, furniture positioned perfectly, and lighting arranged to your liking, one of the final steps of decorating any room is covering those big, bare walls with all the personality your unique home deserves. Family portraits, artwork that makes you smile, and shelves to display your favorite knickknacks all help bring vitality and life to dull, listless rooms.
As you decide just how to bring in those vibrant finishing touches to your room, one of the most impactful decor decisions you can make is where and how to incorporate stylish and artful mirrors. These wall hangings can make a big statement on par with the most interesting artwork and wall decor while also serving important and unique functions for every room you place them in. Decorative mirrors underscore your design theme and add a fashionable element wherever you need extra flair. Coordinating your mirrors and light fixtures can take your bathrooms and powder rooms from functional to magazine-worthy. For smaller rooms, or rooms without adequate lighting, use mirrors to make a room look bigger or to reflect natural light.
While the function will vary from place to place, every room in your house can benefit from a perfectly-placed mirror, so read on for our favorite recommendations for incorporating this stylish accessory like a pro!
As you plan exactly how to decorate the walls of your new home, we recommend you focus on acquiring mirrors for the following rooms in the following order:
• Bathroom Vanity Mirrors
• Bedroom Full-Length Mirrors
• Bedroom Dresser/Dressing Table Mirrors
• Large Living Room Statement Mirrors
• Decorative Dining Rooms Mirrors
• Kitchen Mirrors to Reflect Natural Light
We know it can be tempting to start with that big, room-making statement piece for your living room or entryway, but based on the function each of these mirrors will serve, it’s always best to begin with the bathroom vanity mirror. This mirror will see the most use in your home as you and your family get ready for the day every morning or wind down every night.
Once the vanity mirror is selected, we recommend finding a full-length bedroom mirror to easily plan and check your outfit for the day, and smaller dresser-top mirrors that will serve a similar function for clothes, hair, and even make-up. Once these highly functional pieces are in place, you’ll want to move toward more aesthetic choices that dress up your living room, dining room, and kitchen. Depending on the layout of your home, we also suggest adding a mirror to your entryway, so you can take one last look at your hair, make-up, and outfit before you head out the door to face the world!
If you are not decorating a home from scratch, and are instead looking for replacement mirrors or unique mirrors to accent current décor, feel free to follow this guide in whatever order you see fit, depending on what rooms you’re looking to update and upgrade!
Because your bathroom vanity mirror serves such a specific function, it’s important to select a mirror that fits your needs. Once you’ve considered the following factors, then you can start the search for a mirror that fits these parameters but also fulfills your decor dreams! Vanity mirrors, like bathrooms themselves, can be both highly functional and fashionable with a little know-how, and these tips will have you picking mirrors that make design professionals proud.
Vanity mirror height
The height of your vanity mirror will largely depend on two factors—who will be using the mirror, and what kind of vanity and faucet fixtures you have. Because this mirror will be used most frequently for tasks like cleaning teeth, applying make-up, and styling hair, the mirror should be centered to the vanity with the middle hung at roughly 60” from the floor—or eye-level for most people (you can hang it higher if you’re tall!). If this mirror is intended for a kid’s bathroom, you may want to hang it a bit lower so shorter bodies can still have a clear view. However, your faucet may also play a role. Most mirrors will be around 10” above the faucet following these guidelines, but if you have a taller faucet you may have to adjust slightly—hang the mirror two or three inches above the tallest point of the faucet for a professional look.
Distance between vanity light and mirror
How your vanity light and mirror interact stylistically can have a dramatic impact on the look and function of your bathroom. We discuss how to pair vanity lights and mirrors in more detail in our Bathroom Vanity Lighting guide; explore some of our favorite tips and vanity light pairings. Remember, the distance between your mirror and vanity lights will depend on several factors, including what style of mirror you choose, how big your vanity is, who is using the bathroom most frequently, and of course, your favorite decor looks and trends.
Vanity mirror size
To create a cohesive style in your bathroom, match your bathroom mirror to your vanity. Most commonly, the width of your vanity mirror is one or two inches less than the width of your vanity. Using this guideline is an easy way to ensure a put-together aesthetic. If, however, you have an edgier frame of mind or a unique vanity, that standard may not be your best fit. For smaller vanities, a mirror that is one or two inches wider than the countertop can look modern and sleek—just be sure not to overwhelm or unbalance the space. A thinner, understated frame on the mirror can help pull this look together. For vanities with multiple sinks, you can choose to either hang one long mirror that stretches the whole width of the countertop or hang matching mirrors over each sink. Consider the function of each mirror as well as the aesthetic as you design the layout of this room. Your lighting will play a role too—narrower mirrors allow you to mount lights on either side, while longer mirrors may require you to choose lighting that sits above the mirror—or in some cases, lighting that is mounted to the mirror directly. These three elements—the vanity, mirror, and lighting—will all work in tandem, so take all three into account in your design.
Vanity mirror shapes
The shape of your vanity mirror is largely up to taste, and this is one area where you can really allow your personal style to shine. Traditional rectangular mirrors are not your only option! Round bathroom mirrors are a sleek, edgy way to soften a space, yet add a unique flair. Rectangle vanity mirrors are classic and timeless and come with many different frame options to add style. Oval vanity mirrors are the best of both looks—soft and sleek, unexpected yet highly functional. Square bathroom mirrors are less common and can bring a super chic, quirky modern vibe to your room. Your bathroom mirror can also serve as an accent or a contrast to your vanity lights. For example, round mirrors with globe lights can add a buoyant cohesion to your space, while triangular shades can add a sharp, angular element that underscores the shape of square and rectangular mirrors.
Design Tip: Industrial Bathroom Mirrors embrace a fun, bold look that always makes a statement. Match a metal-framed industrial mirror in black, bronze, or gold with industrial vanity lights to make a big impact in a small space. Raw and unfinished metals and woods are also staples of this look that can add a strikingly rugged air to your room.
While incorporating mirrors into your bedroom is heavily dependent upon your personal sense of style, using full-length mirrors, usually hung in or near a closet, is the most common bedroom mirror design choice. These mirrors are a key feature if you want to get the full view of your outfit each day. Above-dresser mirrors or dressing table mirrors serve a similar function, but usually only give you a waist-up view. We recommend incorporating both where possible for a truly functional space.
Bedrooms do, however, present great spaces for additional decorative mirrors. To help reflect natural light around the room, place mirrors opposite or beside windows. To create a soft and relaxing atmosphere, consider the gentle curves of a round or ovular mirror. Mirrors with uniquely-shaped decorative frames also make a grand statement in bedrooms. Similarly to our bedroom chandelier installation advice, we recommend that if you choose a large, heavy wall-mount mirror, you have it professionally installed—particularly if you choose to place it above the headboard. Heavy mirrors may require special mounting considerations and can pose safety hazards if installed incorrectly.
Design Tip: Bedroom boho mirrors in natural materials like rattan or bamboo are a quick and easy way to add trendy personality to your room. Plus, natural materials are best for creating a soothing atmosphere, perfect for rest and relaxation!
As you move from the bathroom and bedroom of your home, you’ll find that your options for mirrors begin to take on more decorative functions as opposed to task-oriented ones. Living room mirrors can be a great way to fill awkward, empty spaces in living room wall decor, from oversized statement mirrors that fill the design needs of an entire wall, to small mirrors that add some variety to your current look. Remember to place your mirror opposite a window if possible to help fill the space with natural light, and always have a professional hang any heavy fixtures, especially if they are positioned over areas where your friends or family sit or sleep. Some of our favorite living room mirror locations include:
• Mirrors over the mantel
• Mirrors over the fireplace
• Mirrors on a gallery wall
Design Tip: Create a modern living room mirror moment by hanging a frameless mirror over your mantel. Complete the look by placing potted plants and one or two family photos or small decor accessories on the mantel.
The dining room is a less-common area to hang mirrors; however, this design choice can have a big impact if your dining room:
• Feels small
• Has limited natural light
• Has a dining room chandelier that would coordinate well with a mirror
Mirrors can help open a space up, reflect light around a room, or add cohesion with light fixtures, so just as we did with our bathroom, it’s important to consider the function you want a dining room mirror to fulfill. If your dining room is more spacious or already has plenty of natural light, you can still add mirrors to enhance the visual appeal, but the location and design of the piece become more dependent on personal taste than function. At Shades of Light, we love seeing mirrors over buffet tables or mirrors behind dining tables. These simple placements can be a quick and easy way to add personality and panache to formal dining rooms.
Design Tip: Contemporary dining room mirrors look stunning when hung in a series along one large dining room wall. Multiple coordinating mirrors in this area give a sleek, dynamic, yet uncluttered effect.
Your kitchen may not be the first room to come to mind when deciding where to hang mirrors in your home, but depending on the layout of your kitchen, this unexpected placement can make your space stand out in a big way. Many modern, open-concept kitchens may not be able to accommodate a large, centerpiece-style mirror. If you do have an accent wall in your kitchen, a mirror will look just as stellar here as in your dining room, living room, or bedroom. We also love seeing kitchen wall mirrors hung in breakfast nooks. This choice is a surefire way to make your space feel more open and inviting. And, of course, hanging a mirror next to a window or across from a window is a clever way to let the sunshine into your kitchen routine.
Design Tip: Rustic kitchens are all the rage and rustic kitchen farmhouse mirrors with distressed wood, metal, or galvanized frames come in all shapes and sizes. Search barn door styles for larger options and check out galvanized looks for a big impact in smaller spaces