Design Details: Bathroom Mirrors Done Right

updated Jul 16, 2020
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The bathroom mirror is the kind of decorating detail that should receive far more attention than it does. After all, you look at it every day. It provides a critical function for daily grooming but is also a relatively easy way to inject a dose of personality and style into even the most clinically stark bathroom.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

And it is easier (and usually cheaper) to change a mirror than to replace a toilet, wall tile or sink! Sometimes a bathroom mirror complements the bathroom by adding character and spark to a classic or clinical space. Other times the mirror itself plays second fiddle to a dramatic sink or wallpaper. Whatever the case, choosing a mirror can be a fun, high-impact and low-effort way to decorate your bathroom.

Hanging a mirror is a lot like hanging art. You may not know the rules you are following but you know when it looks wrong, whether the mirror is too small, too high, too low or too wide. Still, there are some very general (and not strict) guidelines for choosing and hanging a mirror in the bathroom.

Generally, you want to take into account the size of the sink, the height of those who use the bathroom regularly, and the wall space above. The top of the glass should be a few inches above the eye level of the tallest user in the family. The mirror should be long enough vertically to allow everyone a decent reflection. Typically, the mirror should not be wider than the sink or vanity. How far above the sink the mirror hangs will also depend on how high the ceilings are. It would look odd, for example, if a small mirror were flush against the sink with a huge expanse of wall space above. Basically, the mirror shouldn’t be conspicuously far above the sink nor, unless it is a very large mirror, too close to the sink.

Here are some examples of mirrors that are nicely positioned as well as stylistically well-suited to their respective bathrooms.

1. I am unnaturally obsessed with this bathroom. I absolutely love the mirrors, which are not an obvious choice for the sleek wood vanity. An inspired combination from Elle Decor.
2. A fantastic bathroom from Paige Blackburn’s Cozy Maple Hill Home. A very simple pedestal sink is paired with a dramatic gold vintage mirror in an example of brilliant contrast.
3. A lot of round mirrors I see look too small to be practical for a bathroom (I don’t only want to see my face when grooming!). This one from Decorology is lovely!
4. Mismatched vanity mirrors. Black & Spiro via Apartment Therapy.
5. Brenna’s Farewell to Her Single Girl Home. This Anthropologie mirror, no longer available, does appear to break the guideline that the mirror not be wider than the sink. But given how tiny the sink is, and how large the wall space, I think the mirror works well. The mirror caps off a truly eclectic funky bathroom!

6. Here is a simple, sparse, quite clinical bathroom from Mazen’s Tailored Toronto Townhouse . I just love this subtle vintage mirror, which originally came from a hospital by way of Queen West Antiques
7. Paige Blackburn’s Cozy Maple Hill Home. Brockway service sink from Kohler and mirror by IKEA. This kids’ bathroom is so cool. I love the sink, though I can’t imagine how it stays remotely tidy given there is no countertop space. Not sure I could get my kids to return their toothbrushes, etc to the cups (although perhaps there is storage elsewhere?). Anyway, I like how they used a simple IKEA mirror so as to leave the focus on the cool sink.
8. From Alison and Eric’s Chic Eclectic Home. Here’s an example of how you can play with multiple mirrors in a bathroom.
9. Here is a perfectly situated mirror in a classic bathroom from House Beautiful.
10. This mirror is a dramatic and unexpected contrast with the tiny modern sink. An example of how you can make a huge impact with a bathroom mirror, shifting the tone of the bathroom from a more typical “spa” look to a room with serious character. From Cifial via In Decorat.

(Images: As linked above)