How to Choose the Right Mirror For Your Space - Studio McGee (2022)

Mirrors are one of those small design elements that make a big difference…

but when it comes to choosing the right mirror for a space, there are a few rules we like to stick to.

Our team has learned a lot about how to select mirrors, and today we’re going to walk you through our process of choosing the right style, shape, size, and grade!

Here’s are a few things we always consider when choosing a mirror:

No. 1: Size

There are a few rules of thumb we abide by when choosing the size of a mirror.

Over a piece of furniture:

If we’re selecting a mirror for above a piece of furniture, we like the mirror to be smaller than the piece below it to allow for some breathing room.

When the mirror covers the whole piece of furniture below it, it can take over the entire feeling of the look. However, if the mirror is a few inches shorter than the piece of furniture, it’s easier to layer a lamp and decor on top of the piece and create a balanced vignette.

On the wall:

Hanging a mirror on a wall is a great way to make your room feel bigger, but you don’t want the mirror to dominate the entire wall. If we’re hanging a mirror on a narrow wall, we like to leave a few inches of wall space outside of the mirror to create balance.

In the bathroom:

Choosing the right sized mirror for a bathroom is all about the elements surrounding it.

If you’re doing a new build and you are choosing your lighting, plumbing, and electrical, you have the flexibility to customize the layout, and can decide to do one large mirror or two smaller mirrors. Whereas if you’re remodeling, you’ll likely have to work around the current electrical and sink placement.

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Typically, if we have two sinks, we do two mirrors with sconces on either side. We like the mirrors to at least cover the length of the sink, so if the sinks are close together, sometimes sticking with one, longer mirror is a safer bet.

In a new build, we try to mix up the layout of the bathrooms throughout the home for a more custom look and feel. For example, if we do two, small mirrors with side sconces in one bath, we might do one long mirror with an overhead light in the other.

No. 2: Shape

When it comes to selecting the right shaped mirror for a space, there a few things we like to account for.

Over a piece of furniture:

We like to get creative with our mirror shapes over pieces of furniture, and often choose more unconventional shapes.

If we have a dresser with soft, round, edges, we tend to contrast it with a square-shaped mirror, whereas if we have a piece with harsher edges, an arch or circular shape can create the perfect contrast.

In the bathroom:

In a bathroom or powder room, the first thing you have to consider is the surrounding lighting.

If the electrical in a remodel is wired for two side sconces, we’ll likely choose a circular shaped mirror rather than a square-shaped mirror, and if it is wired for an overhead light, we typically choose a square-shaped mirror.

We have done a circular mirror with an overhead sconce in the past when the space has called for it, but it can be harder to find the right balance and make it work functionally.

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No. 3: Style

Choosing the right style of your mirror has a lot to do with the elements surrounding it, and since we gravitate towards transitional looks, we tend to create a mixture in each vignette. Here are a few things to note:

In the bathroom:

There is a difference between bathroom grade and non-bathroom grade mirrors (we’ll get to that later,) but when it comes to style, bathroom-grade mirrors are typically more streamlined.

Also, sometimes by the time you have lighting, plumbing, and all of the other elements that constitute a bathroom, doing a really detailed mirror can be distracting to the eye. For both of those reasons, we tend to keep mirror styles simple in a lot of our bathroom spaces.

We do, however, still like to play with style balance by using the mirror to play off of or contrast modern or traditional elements in the space.

A word on finishes: When it comes to mirror finishes, we tend to think of a mirror as a standalone. Meaning that even if we decide not to mix metals on lighting, plumbing, and hardware, we may still choose a contrasting finish for the mirror.

Over a piece of furniture or on a wall :

Mixing styles with your mirror over a piece of furniture is even more fun, and we love to experiment with balancing traditional and modern styles.

For example, if we have a more traditional dresser style, we may go with a modern looking mirror, and vice versa.

If you’re choosing a mirror for your wall, look around your space and try to get a feel for what it is missing. If you have a lot of rounded silhouettes in the room, maybe you need something rectangular. If you have a lot of streamlined pieces, picking something with more detail may create more interest and dimension.

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No. 4: Grade

Last but most certainly not least, choosing the right mirror means knowing your grade requirements. While a mirror over a piece of furniture or on a wall doesn’t necessarily have specific function requirements, a bathroom mirror is a whole different story!

Since bathrooms equate for quite a bit of humidity, the mirror in your bathroom must follow a few requirements to avoid mold and other unwanted elements.

When looking at a mirror online, you should be able to tell if it is bathroom grade or not. Here are a few things to look for:

No 1: Mention of “Bath Rated”

No. 2: Shatterproof

No. 3: Plated, not painted

No. 4: Easy hanging method

There are, however, always exceptions to this rule. In powder bathrooms, for example, we will sometimes choose mirrors with more detail that are not “Bath Rated,” since they do not have to deal with moisture as much as full baths do.

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12 Comments

Studio McGee

  1. Perfect timing on this article! Thank you for sharing! We are nearing the end of a guest bathroom upgrade and I am trying to select a mirror. We painted, traded out a sink vanity for a pedestal sink and are changing lighting, faucet and fixtures. With above mirror lighting, your article indicates a square mirror. However, I’m wondering if a round or oval mirror would better offset the square edges of the sink. Thoughts?

  2. Love the info in this post! Super helpful. Our master bathroom is very small and can only accommodate a pedestal sink. With a lack of storage space, we rely on a wall-mounted (not recessed) medicine cabinet for storage of our daily toiletries. We would love to upgrade our medicine cabinet, but I have found that all the medicine cabinets online are either enormous for our tiny space or look too cheap. Any tips for medicine cabinets? Thanks!

    Reply

  3. So so helpful. We are doing a new build and planning on two mirrors above a double vanity. Any tips on spacing the mirrors and lighting?

    Reply

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  4. Some interesting points here!! Great post!!

    Reply

  5. When placing a mirror over a piece of furniture, should the height of the furniture dictate the size of the mirror? We have a wide chest of drawers that’s about 3.5′ tall. Would love a round mirror, but am wondering if the chest is too high for that? thanks!

    Reply

  6. Any recommendations on what shape mirror would work best over a stone fireplace at a lake house? I believe the rock is flagstone. It’s rustic but missing something to soften it up, if that makes any sense. Please help me out!!!

    Reply

    1. if you want something to soften it up, you’d probably be best going for something round or oval since those edges won’t be so sharp

      Reply

      1. Thank you!

        Reply

  7. I am doing some upgrades in our family room. We have a stone fireplace and on each side are built in shelves. To the right of the right builtin is the door entry through our garage and we use it as our main entry for our family. Currently we have a credenza/cabinet with a mirror above. Considering putting a wall mirror. Is that a no no? This is a high traffic area and the cabinet serves as a perfect place for things however I really want to open the space.

    Reply

  8. I have two silver rectangular mirrors above my double sinks with rounded edges. Across from the double sink vanity is a makeup counter that I need a mirror for. Should I do the same as the double sink vanity mirrors but bigger or can I mix it up and use a rectangle mirror? I’m considering the Truman Mirror by McGee & Co.

    Reply

  9. I agree with what you said that it’s important to consider the elements surrounding a mirror when choosing a style that would fit my bathroom. My husband and I recently moved to a new home, and I want to replace the bathroom mirrors. I’ll take note of your advice to ensure I choose the right style of mirrors for our new house. Thanks!

    Reply

  10. It really helped when you talked about adding mirrors to our home and how to do it correctly! Recently, my wife and I decided we’d like to re-decorate our home. We’ve heard how a mirror could help our home look bigger, so we’ll be sure to read your tips before buying one! Thanks for the advice on how to place a mirror in our home!

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FAQs

How do I choose the right mirror? ›

A good rule of thumb (or eye) is to choose a mirror that's around two thirds of the size of the furniture it's hanging above. Use a paper template to help you map out its position if you're not sure what size will fit your space – your room's colour and natural light levels will play a part too.

Should I get a round or rectangle mirror? ›

Round mirrors are good if you want one mirror; since furniture typically is square or rectangular, the round mirror adds visual variety. If you want to make a full mirrored wall to use this technique for the maximum effect, you're probably better off with rectangular mirrors.

Should the mirror be as wide as the vanity? ›

As a rule, the mirror should measure several inches less than the vanity or sink area. For example, if you've chosen a 48" single sink vanity, you will want to select a mirror the width of which (frame included) doesn't exceed 48 inches. To make sure the mirror doesn't overpower the room, aim for 42-44 inches total.

Which shape of mirror is best? ›

Best Shape for Mirror Placement As Per Vastu

According to Vastu Shastra, square and rectangle shape mirrors are considered to be auspicious.

Can a mirror be too big for a room? ›

With mirrors, you can never, ever, go too big.” The advice might sound counterintuitive, but choosing a mirror that's too small can actually make a room appear cavelike and cluttered.

Can a mirror be too big for wall? ›

However, when positioning a mirror over a piece of furniture, West recommends expanding up but not out: A mirror should not be wider than the piece it's hanging over. If a large mirror doesn't work, smaller mirrors can be beautiful and striking.

Why are round mirrors popular? ›

Mirrors with a round shape are ideal in creating the impression of a source of light and this creates more visual variety in the space.

How do I choose an entryway mirror? ›

Mirrors should be approximately the same height, but can be six inches taller or shorter. The width of mirrors should be between 50- to 75-percent of the length of foyer tables. Square – Square mirrors look heavier than their rectangular counterparts, which pairs well with large-scale furniture.

Where should a mirror be placed in a living room? ›

Living Room Mirror Ideas

Remember to place your mirror opposite a window if possible to help fill the space with natural light, and always have a professional hang any heavy fixtures, especially if they are positioned over areas where your friends or family sit or sleep.

How do I choose a floor mirror for my living room? ›

When choosing a floor mirror, think about its size. The size should be similar to the scale of the sizes of other items in the room. If you have simple and dainty furnitures, choose a floor mirror with a light frame. If you have a large room, a huge floor mirror can be a good statement piece.

Which mirror is most accurate? ›

If you want the truth (can you handle the truth?), invest in a strong, thick mirror that is less likely to bend under its own weight. Some experts contend that a high-quality 1/4-inch thick plate glass mirror is a better choice than a thinner, 3/16″ thick mirror because it will be less prone to distortion.

Should mirror be bigger or smaller than vanity? ›

Generally speaking, the mirror is suggested to measure a few inches less than the vanity or basin area. For instance, if you have a 60" double vanity, you will want to choose a mirror that's width (if it has frame, frame included) doesn't exceed 60 inches. It is recommended to aim for 52-54 inches mirrors.

How do you choose the right size mirror for a vanity? ›

As a general rule, a vanity mirror should measure several inches fewer than your vanity sink area. For example a 30 in. wide vanity should be paired with a 26-28 in. wide mirror.

What size mirror should I use over a 36 inch vanity? ›

What Size Mirror Should I Use Over a 36-Inch Vanity? If your vanity is 36 inches, then your mirror should be at most 32 inches wide, leaving 2 inches of space on either side of your vanity.

What size should mirror be over vanity? ›

As a general rule, a vanity mirror should measure several inches fewer than your vanity sink area. For example a 30 in. wide vanity should be paired with a 26-28 in. wide mirror.

How big should mirror be over sofa? ›

The mirror should be two-thirds or three-quarters the width of the furniture below it to create visual balance; however, feel free to go wider, up to the width of the furniture, if it works in your space.

How do I choose an entryway mirror? ›

Mirrors should be approximately the same height, but can be six inches taller or shorter. The width of mirrors should be between 50- to 75-percent of the length of foyer tables. Square – Square mirrors look heavier than their rectangular counterparts, which pairs well with large-scale furniture.

What size mirror do you need for a 60 inch vanity? ›

If your vanity is 60 inches, then your mirror should be at most 56 inches wide, leaving 2 inches of space on either side of your vanity.

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