How High to Hang a Vanity Mirror

I’m working with one of our contractors on a mid-century modern remodel. Part of the project includes a bathroom with original wood plank ceilings that are a bit low. We are installing a vanity at the now standard 36” height; the original was 32”. There is a tile wainscoting (we are replacing the original but with the same feel) that caused the original mirror to be a small size and oddly placed. The dilemma this is causing has made me think carefully about the do’s and don’ts of mirror placement. Here are some thoughts:

1. A bathroom is like a kitchen – safety and function transcend everything. As we tell our clients, we can make anything look good, but we can’t make everything work well. In the case of a vanity mirror this means all the users must be able to see their faces and heads. Tall people will need a mirror hung higher, short people will need one lower or one that pivots, and families with disparate heights will need a tall mirror to accommodate everyone.

2. Proportion is the next key consideration. Symmetry is helpful here; it’s a nice look if there is the same amount of space above and below the mirror, for example between the light fixture and the vanity top. If the vanity is large or the sink is a trough shape, the mirror should be wide enough to balance the width.

3. Faucets are often part of the “jewelry” of the bathroom and if that’s true for you positioning the mirror so the faucet is partially reflected is striking. Of course, this doesn’t work if your mirror is also a medicine cabinet and the faucet would interfere with opening it.

4. Frameless mirrors are often used in bathrooms and if this look appeals to you it is wise to place the bottom edge on top of the backsplash so there is no small gap to clean. Framed mirrors should have a couple of inches between the lower edge and the backsplash. You will find that most of the time the mirror will look right between 5-10” above the sink.

5. Don’t let wall mounted faucets confuse you! The mirror will need to be above these faucets and will be close to or at the 10” mark. Unless you really want to glam up the space and mount the faucet on the mirror itself!

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