A vanity, whether in a bathroom or not, is essentially pointless without a mirror. And since the station is designated to help us beautify, why shouldn’t the vanity mirror itself exude its own sense of beauty? So, what mirror should you pick? There are many ways to create an attractive vanity station through the presence of the mirror (or mirrors—sometimes more is more). Want to know how to make that mirror a knock out? This post is designed to help make that happen. So, whether you are remodeling a bathroom, starting from scratch or adding a beauty station to another room, here is the skinny on how to keep your vanity mirror efforts from being in vain.
Before we discuss how to find the right mirror, here is a brief reflection on the background of vanity stations to provide a little context. It is obvious that humans have been concerned with their image since the beginning of documented history. The vanity box was first conceived in early Egyptian culture where women would store all their eye makeup and various beauty products. The mirror didn’t become a staple of the station until the Renaissance era when the beauty revolution prompted many nobles to adopt extensive beauty regimens. The first vanity stations were actually called “Toilette Tables” even though they weren’t used in bathrooms at the time. It is appropriate now though since many vanity stations are set in bathrooms. In the beginning, vanity tables had little mirrors since glass was so difficult to make and expensive at the time. As “toilette” stations evolved to include more space for storing products and glass became easier to manufacture and obtain, mirrors grew to become the staple of every vanity station. Also because mirror glass became easier to obtain, vanity mirrors grew larger and, in some cases, even began to contain multiple mirrors. At first, vanities and bathrooms were completely separate. But as bathrooms began to grow in size and functionality, vanities became an integral part of every bathroom. More and more features were added to improve the vanity primping experience. Lights were added to really maximize the visual detail of reflections, some framing the mirror, or on each side or hanging right above it.
Since vanities have been around for hundreds of years, you can bet they have gone through multiple stylistic phases. That means you’ve got a lot of options to pick from when it comes to vanity mirror styles. Whether you like Elizabethan antiques, 60s retro, or avant-garde, there is a vanity to fit your style. The style of a mirrored vanity is mainly dependent on the frame and shape of the mirror (It can also be slightly affected by the treatment and size of the glass and number of mirrors, but we will talk more about that in a bit).
The more antique or traditional vanities tend to have round mirrors with wooden frames that are mounted or sit on the vanity table. Even within this style, there are many options for the frame which can have an ornate, elaborate design carved into the wood or can just be a smooth finish. Contemporary vanities or most bathroom vanities have large square mirrors, some without any frames and some with minimalistic metallic frames and finishes. For something unique, try painting your wood vanity a unique color like fuchsia or mint, or put a round mirror in a bathroom to soften the aesthetic.
For more in-depth advice for picking a mirror style, check out our Guide to Mirror Styles.
Another way to customize your vanity station is by having multiple mirrors. This can be to create a style or for practical reasons. Having multiple mirrors arranged in such a way that you can create an infinity mirror can be helpful for seeing angles you can’t see with just one mirror. You can also do designs, with multiple round mirrors hanging or other designs that work as separate pieces but a complete design. If you want a wall-to-wall mirror, sometimes you have to get multiple panes of glass to achieve that expanse of coverage.
Now that you know how many mirrors you’ll want, the next step is to decide how big. These two choices go somewhat hand-in-hand. If you are going to have multiple mirrors, it is probably better to choose small to medium-sized mirrors. If you want one mirror, designers tend to recommend matching the length of the mirror to the vanity table or only slightly smaller. That is not to say you can’t go bigger or much smaller, sometimes bold designs welcome unconventional choices. A smaller mirror can provide more space to add stylized sconces on the sides which can improve reflection. Some modern mirrors designs contain an LED light encased in the frame all the way around really enhancing visibility in the mirror. While some people prefer a more delicate approach or they would like to match the style of the sconces to the rest of the room’s design. Either decision is going to impact your what mirror size you choose.
Another thing to decide is whether the mirror (or mirrors) is/are going to be mounted on the wall, placed on a surface or suspended. Not all bathroom mirrors or vanity mirrors need to be mounted on the wall, although there are plenty of ways to do this creatively as well. If your vanity is placed in a tricky spot to mount something on the wall, it is possible to hang a mirror from the ceiling or from the top of a window post or even held by rails coming from the counter or floor. Think outside of the box. But if you are mounting on the wall, consider choosing come creative options for adding flare. Make it a floating mirror by insetting it into the rest of the tile or wall, add a shelf or a frame that can double as a shelf to enhance practicality, suspend it from the wall to create depth and intrigue. Don’t want to go through the hassle of putting holes in the wall to hang it up? No problem. Certain styles of mirrors lend themselves to being placed on a vanity and provide a relaxed, cute, charming vibe. (I think it goes without saying, but this style does not work with frameless mirrors. Plus it can be dangerous so we advise against it.)
But wherever you decide to place your mirror, always be sure to have a professional ensure it is secure.
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