Space above medicine cabinets?

rebecca3142January 5, 2014

Here is a crude "to scale" representation of my vanity design. I need to have these large medicine cabinets for storage, so 1 large mirror is not an option.

My biggest question is the space above the medicine cabinets - is that too much blank space? I'm sure we will do some type of crown molding, but still....does this look funny? I think I could probably raise the medicine cabinets a few inches as well.

My current bathroom has much shorter ceilings, so I have no experience on this one.


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So you have 9' ceilings. It is very helpful to see your scaled drawing.

Have you thought about getting taller medicine cabinets? I have 8' ceilings and I will be having a 40" tall mirrored medicine cabinet. In my drawings it seems to look like a good scale. Be sure you have room for the faucets to work, both on and off with a top mounted handle, with the med cabinets at that height. You might need to raise the med cab to accommodate a spout or handle. For example I need at least 8" for mine to clear, your drawing shows about 5" above the counter.

The lights might not be strong enough. They look like they are candelabra type sconces. I have 120watts each in my 2 sconces and I wonder if they will be enough to put on makeup. Sconces could be more substantial to help with scale. They look a little small.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 11:37PM
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Thanks for the feedback! Those were the largest medicine cabinets I could find "off the shelf" that were the width that I wanted. Are you having your cabinets custom-made? If not, what brand are you using?

Regarding the lights: You bring up another good point. I checked and each light is 60W. I originally planned on putting a 2 or 3 bulb light bar across the top of the mirrors, but all of the online experts recommended the sconces for better lighting. I have a width limitation (you can see in the drawing) - I only have about 7.5 inches in-between the mirror edge and the wall. I could also use recessed can lights in the ceiling.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 11:52PM
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My medicine cabinet is going to be the size of the Robern 24x40 (23 something x 39 something). I got the mirror 20 years ago for free and didn't know what it was until I started looking at remodeling the bathroom and needed a medicine cabinet. I dug up the old mirror in the basement and had a look, and low and behold it was a Robern cabinet type mirror. Looks like a replacement mirror. I will have the cabinet maker make me a walnut box to mount it on, so the med cabinet will be surfaced mounted. I ruled out a recessed cab because I didn't want to recess into an exterior wall.

Maybe you could look up the amount of lumens that are appropriate for bathroom task lighting.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2014 at 12:14AM
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Oh my...I just looked up that 24x40 Robern cabinet and they are $1600 EACH. I can't justify that amount when I found the 24x30 for $190 each. I am going to keep looking around for options, though. I'll report back if I find a taller one for a more reasonable price. :)

    Bookmark   January 6, 2014 at 12:42AM
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Not sure where you are in the construction, but I might scrap the sconces in favor of over mirror lights to fill in some of that space.

this looks close to the scale of yours - this was their solution

Mediterranean Bathroom by La Jolla General Contractors Priority 1 Project Management

and another

Contemporary Bathroom by Pensacola Interior Designers & Decorators In Detail Interiors

If you plan on doing some kind of interesting wall treatment, the space wouldn't be as noticeable.

Contemporary Bathroom by Dallas Tile, Stone & Countertops Patina Floor Design Store - 3 DFW Locations

    Bookmark   January 6, 2014 at 3:33AM
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Oh my Rebecca, that is expensive! I thought they were on the order of $800 each. I am so glad I had that mirror stored all these years.

Olychick has some great examples. Here are a few more

Illustrate tall mirrors and side sconces. I'm guessing that is a 9" ceiling by the door:

Traditional Bathroom by Atlanta General Contractors Dresser Homes

Wall detailing that breaks up the space:

Farmhouse Bathroom by Denver Architects & Designers Chalet

Looks like the situation you have drawn with your existing plan. Note that the mirror is mounted higher than yours:

Contemporary Bathroom by Grand Prairie Kitchen & Bath Designers USI Design & Remodeling

The right end of this wall looks like 9' height and illustrates some more of Olychicks thoughts about wall interest helping with the space:

Midcentury Bathroom by Boston Architects & Designers Flavin Architects

Don't know where you are or the wall you have for this run of bathroom fixtures but this shows a window above the whole works. could you put a narrow, wide set of windows above the area?:

Traditional Bathroom by Santa Barbara Interior Designers & Decorators Keeping Interiors

Contemporary Bathroom by Ottawa Architects & Designers Southam Design Inc

BTW, while looking for images in Houzz I came across this reference by one of the designers regarding vanity lighting needs. I didn't read it though. Hope it helps.

Here is a link that might be useful: vanity lighting artical

    Bookmark   January 6, 2014 at 7:38AM
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I like enduring's suggestion to raise the cabinets a bit to give enough clearance for your faucets and some of the elongated, vertical sconces that olychick shows in her examples.

I have 9-ft. ceilings. You will love them! I'm 5'4" and I never think that there's too much space above mirrors or artwork (which I tend to put at eye level). Rather than it being blank space, it just feels expansive and airy.

I don't put on makeup at my vanity, as I prefer sitting down with a magnifying mirror and focused light. I need the truth before I face the world. :) I don't think that three 60-watt lights with shades will give you good illumination. I have over-the-mirror lights, which will give shadows. I wish I had a combination of both types of lighting.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2014 at 11:10AM
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enduring - thank you so much for the photo references! I don't have the option for a window, but it helps to see what other people have done

linelle - I am thinking of putting 1 or 2 additional recessed lights above the vanity and keeping the sconces. While putting light bars above will help with the vertical expanse, I don't want those shadows!

It is just amazing/excruciating how every little detail is important during a remodel! :)

    Bookmark   January 6, 2014 at 11:47AM
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Regarding the recessed lights, I did read in that article to have the ceiling lights out from the wall by 12" or so. That way they don't shine in your eyes when you are at the vanity.

Linelle, has some helpful first hand experience with ceiling heights.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2014 at 4:21PM
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A few months ago I was in a dressing room at Banana Republic. You know how cruel some dressing room lighting is? Well, in this D/R I looked great. It was the lighting! Long, vertical sconces on both sides of the mirror. No shadows. Made me want to buy everything I tried on and carry the lighting around with me.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2014 at 5:15PM
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Don't know if this would work for you, but I'm planning to use IKEA Godmorgon mirror cabinets, which are 37 and 3/4 inches high. Their single door version is 15 and 3/4 inches wide; I'll be using one of their wider, two door cabinets, either 31 or 39 inches. That way each door is big enough to be used as a proper mirror.

My ceilings are 8 feet high and the cabinets will go from four feet to seven feet, with a LED striplight (concealed) uplighting the foot's gap between the top of the cabinet and the ceiling. I'm having as small a crown molding as I can get away with, none if possible. If you have a large crown molding, and raise your cabinets a little, it might work?

My LED lighting will be just decorative, as the real lighting will be done by sconces to the sides of the cabinets, just as you have in your diagram.

I know the top shelves of the cabinet will be hard to reach but as I'm only 5 foot, I need a stepstool anyway, and you could just keep your less frequently used items at the top.

Not sure if this link will work, but if not, you can google IKEA godmorgon mirror cabinets. The 16 inch one is $150.

Here is a link that might be useful: IKEA Godmorgon mirror cabinet

    Bookmark   January 6, 2014 at 10:07PM
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Since adding a window is not an option, how about a fake window? You could horizontally mount a rectangular mirror in a window frame - high up on the wall, above the "real" mirrors and lights.

This post was edited by mdln on Mon, Jan 6, 14 at 22:35

    Bookmark   January 6, 2014 at 10:33PM
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Haha linelle - that's a great story! Hope you didn't blow your budget that day. :)

Thanks for the additional ideas everyone! Those will be fun to explore.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 2:08AM
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Rebecca, I ended up not buying anything, but sure wish I was able to look that good in the light of day.

OT: I am not in Banana Republic's target demographic, not by several decades. A friend of mine, 10 years younger, handsome guy, told me he gets completely ignored in BR, like he's invisible. I got the same treatment (duh!) but even when I had them unlock a dressing room for me, there wasn't even the usual "hey, how's that fitting? need another size?" It was like I didn't exist.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 12:20PM
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I'm not sure about experts but light bar should also work well and provide enough light for your vanity area.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 12:35PM
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