Big ugly vanity mirror

lynneblackOctober 24, 2011

We are remodeling our 1985 master bath. We have a 93" vanity (wall to wall in an alcove) above it is a 93"x40" mirror with a light bar above it. The ceiling in the room is sloped; it's 14' on the side where the vanity is, 10' at the other end of the room. We are spending so much on the shower and stuff that I'm trying to spend as little as possible on this vanity/mirror. I stained the vanity with General Stain Georgian Cherry and put pulls on the builder grade doors/drawers, and we are getting desert rose granite for the top. But, I'm at a loss to know what to do about that mirror, if I take it down and replace it with two small mirrors (one above each sink) I think they will look lost on that big wall, so I thought of building a soffit from the ceiling to the top of the mirror and putting recessed lighting in it- then I read that is a no-no and you can't use recessed lighting over a vanity mirror. My last resort would be to get a frame for the mirror, but that will just serve to further accentuate the empty wall space over the mirror- any ideas would be appreciated.

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dockside_gw

What about glueing two frames (large size molding) on to the mirror over each sink? I saw that on a H&GA program and it looked pretty good. It would be easiest to do and cheaper, to boot. Then, replace the fixture and put individual fixutres over each sink above the mirror.

We have a soffit over our vanity with can lights in it and a 9' ceiling so the soffit comes down to about 4-1/2 feet above the 36" high vanity. I don't know by your "no no" if that refers to code or appearance. But, apparently it wasn't against code when our house was built 12 years ago.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2011 at 12:21AM
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lynneblack

Thx dockside, regarding the recessed lighting in the soffit, I don't think it's against code, it's just that when I searched online all I found was posts about how awful it is and that it casts shadows on your face. I thought about a narrow side light on each side of the mirror, but there is only about 1/4" space between the wall and the mirror so I have no idea how they could be mounted. I saw the double frame thing, but I'm not sure it would work with that big space above the mirror.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2011 at 12:41AM
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lynneblack

thanks, I see in the 2nd picture someone has recessed lights in the soffit, so maybe they are adequate. I love the top picture, but that would involve buying 4 lights + 2 mirrors + building the soffit, probably a budget buster lol..

    Bookmark   October 25, 2011 at 10:09AM
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janealexa

We have a soffit with recessed lighting. We have 3 cans like in the first picture. However we did not use a dimmer switch so the lighting is too bright. We actually unscrewed the cans over the sinks and only use the middle can. So when we are at our sinks, we don't have any shadows b/c the cans above the sinks are not on. Then on top of the soffit we left the area open for a little display area. We do have other recessed lighting on separate switches in that bathroom.

As far as recessed lighting being a no-no...recessed lighting does cast shadows when the can is directly above you. But if you have another source of light (like a chandelier or other recessed lighting), you can turn the recessed lighting at the vanity off and use the other source when you are concerned about shadows (like when you are putting on makeup).

Consider dimmer switch(es), it's always nice especially at night when you don't want too much light.

Here are some options:
1. Recessed lighting at the vanity area with an alternate source of lighting on a separate switch (other recessed lighting or a chandelier)

2. Recessed lighting at the vanity area with a lighted hardwire makeup mirror on its own switch along with an alternate source of lighting. When you don't want to cast shadows, turn the vanity cans off, your makeup mirror on, and alternate lighting on. (THIS IS WHAT WE ARE DOING IN OUR NEW HOUSE).

3. Recessed lighting at the vanity area...3 cans total: 2 cans above each sink on its own switch then the middle can on its own switch. You can just turn the middle can on and the sink cans off when you don't want to cast shadows while you're at your sink.

Hope that helps! Good luck!

    Bookmark   October 25, 2011 at 10:42AM
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aa62579

This is from the Mirror Mates site.

They added two frames to the existing mirror and have a soffit with recessed lighting. It would probably save you money being able to keep your existing mirror.

Before:

After:

    Bookmark   October 25, 2011 at 10:43AM
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janealexa

I forgot to mention, if you leave the area on top of the soffit open for some kind of display (like the concept of decorating on top of your kitchen cabinets), you can put an outlet (with a switch) up there for some rope light to light that area...may even look nice even if you don't put anything up there. I think if you build a soffit from the ceiling down to the vanity area it will look weird because the ceiling is sloped. I think you have to build a soffit straight across with some open area on top...

    Bookmark   October 25, 2011 at 10:49AM
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lynneblack

Here's a picture of 'big ugly'. Sorry it's such a mess but honestly it doesn't look much better when it's clean. This only shows about 1/2 of the vanity. I can't figure out how to take a picture of the whole thing but you probably get the idea. Nothing's been done other than staining the vanity.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2011 at 12:36PM
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lynneblack

Here's a picture of the other side of the vanity/mirror

    Bookmark   October 25, 2011 at 12:39PM
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aa62579

I think a soffit would look fine and the slope will not effect it.

This is how I am interpreting the ceiling slope to be - tall on the vanity wall and short on the opposite wall. Is this correct?

That being said, the SIZE of the soffit, might be more of an issue. How big would it be?

    Bookmark   October 25, 2011 at 12:45PM
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lynneblack

Yes, tall side is on vanity wall. Top of mirror is 44" from the ceiling, since the ceiling slopes, the height of soffit from the ceiling at the edge of the vanity would be about 38". Thinking about it, that is big for a soffit, although the idiot crack head who designed this house built similar soffits all over the place.. Money keeps disappearing from our remodel budget, today DH tells me he needs to get a water pump replaced on his BMW for $1200 /cry

    Bookmark   October 25, 2011 at 1:04PM
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lynneblack

I'm not sure if this is helpful, but this is a soffit installed over a built-in hutch in our dining room (this was done by the builder) I swear, there is at least one soffit in every room in the house:

    Bookmark   October 25, 2011 at 1:22PM
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writersblock

While these pics of baths with soffits look just fine aesthetically, I sure wouldn't want to put on makeup in any of them, given that there's no side lighting at all.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2011 at 2:14PM
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lynneblack

@writersblock, I agree..I'm wondering if putting a bar light on each side wall of the alcove would help? But, to be honest, I have a wall mounted makeup mirror that I use now, so the biggest concern would be my husband trying to shave with crappy lighting

    Bookmark   October 25, 2011 at 2:26PM
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writersblock

You could mount sconces on the mirror, if you keep it and frame out parts of it.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2011 at 9:10PM
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lynneblack

I thought to mount anything on the mirror you had to remove it? How do you get the fixtures in the wall behind the mirror? I'm not sure that monster could be removed without breaking it

    Bookmark   October 25, 2011 at 10:26PM
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writersblock

Hmm, yes, that's true. You probably would have to remove it.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2011 at 1:24PM
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writersblock

Oops, sorry, meant to say, yes you would have to remove it to place the boxes behind.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2011 at 1:25PM
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aa62579

Perhaps this is similar in height to your bathroom. I like your idea of adding a bar light or sconce to the side walls.

After looking at your photos, I don't know that you would want to do two separate mirrors since your sinks are so close to the wall. Aren't the mirrors normally centered over the sink?

If that didn't bother you, I think two mirrors would look fine in that space - raise them up off the counter and add something between them and above them.

Have you ever thought about using pendants that hang down. You could do a small soffit to hang them from which might make the wiring a bit easier.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2011 at 3:58PM
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GreenDesigns

I would not put in a soffit, as that is a PIA to do well, and it would make the entire space seem more closed in. I think two mini chandeliers over the mirrors would help to take up some of the visual space and help with the lighting. I would definitely remove the single large mirror, as it's really limiting your decor choices. A glass company could remove it and simply recut it to fit in some picture frames that you find at a garage sale or discount store. Change the Hollywood lighting out to sconces on each side of the mirrors. If you found a roll or two of very graphic wallpaper to cover the wall, and then hung the mirrors, that would provide something to take up the space above the mirrors without having to resort to soffits or added decor items.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2011 at 4:12PM
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lynneblack

Thanks Green, it's funny you said that, after I went to bed last night I woke my husband up and suggested hanging some chandeliers and getting 2 smaller mirrors. I'm not sure he liked being awakened but he seemed ok with the idea.

I had not thought about having the existing mirror cut down, I would probably need to get a glass guy out to the house to do that, but it still might be cheaper than buying 2 new framed mirrors.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2011 at 5:04PM
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coolbeansw

I don't think the problem is the "big, ugly vanity mirror", but the strip light and space above the mirror. Add sconces and/or pendant lights and/or side lights. Get rid of the light bar and do something decorative above the mirror (art! or nice wall decor.) Change the lighting and context, not the mirror. Just one opinion.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2011 at 9:25PM
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suero

I agree with coolbeans. The mirror is fine. The lighting makes the mirror look wrong. First of all, the lighting is not over the sinks. Second, there are too many lights in the wrong place.
If you can get a new top and move the sinks away from the walls, that will also improve the layout.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2011 at 11:02PM
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lynneblack

Well..I'm sure glad I posted this, because someone here pointed out something that I had never noticed before (in 11 years of living here) The sinks are not centered over the cabinets, nor can they be because the drawers would get in the way of the drain. That's a much bigger problem than the ugly mirror, the new sinks won't work because they would be too close to the edge of the granite..so, aside , I have to solve the problem of getting the sink positioned further away from the edge of the granite, I might be able to switch the cabinets and see if that would work, but I'm starting to think I'm going to have to go over budget and get some new cabinets; by doing that at least I will have more flexibility in getting rid of the mirror and replacing it with 2 smaller ones and some sconces. Thanks to all of you who took the time to post here, you are all the best and have some great ideas. I will update this when I figure out what the heck I'm going to do lol..

    Bookmark   October 27, 2011 at 11:50PM
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just_julie

I agree that the mirror isn't the problem, it's the big open wall space and that light fixture.

I really like the pendant picture and the first one aa62579 posted. The mirror mates thing is worth thinking about... just look at how it changed that bathroom!

I know you're probably sick of it and want something new but the large mirror really makes the space seem larger.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2011 at 12:56PM
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lynneblack

Our contractor came by today and had some good news for us. He said that he can center the sinks over our existing cabinets, and that he has no idea why that wasn't done in the first place. He said he will build a frame for the mirror that will match the color of the vanity. He's talking about a substantial 4" frame because he wants the mirror to become a focal point instead of an eyesore. He's considering building some shelves for the middle of the mirror, or optionally hanging a few pendants from the ceiling to break that up a little. He said he will have his electrician come over and show us some options for lighting. He said the mirror is worth about $1200 and he doesn't think we would gain much by taking it down and putting up two separate mirrors. He's going to sketch it out for us in the next few days, when I get that I will post it. Thanks to you guys I was at least able to articulate what I saw as a problem rather than just say "grrr I hate this mirror" lol

    Bookmark   October 30, 2011 at 1:26AM
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enduring

Be sure to post pictures of your progress. Good luck.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2011 at 9:32PM
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