Lighting/Mirror Help!!!
dbs959
June 13, 2013 in Design Dilemma
Long post, so bear with me. Also, please forgive photos---we just moved in a month and we are just kind of "camping out" in the master bath until I can get this problem taken care and move on to the fun stuff.

Purchased this house from a flipper. Morning after we moved in, realized lighting in master bath is a nightmare. Our contractor believes flipper took fluorescents out of soffit and there might have been some sort of wall-mounted lighting above the mirrors. Flipper installed three can recessed lights and big, long dark framed mirror from Home Depot. Lighting shines downward, casting terrible shadows. Makes you look old and tired and wrinkled and hard to put make-up on or shave by.

How we have tried to remedy:
1) Tried umpteen different bulbs of wattages and kinds (led, hi-efficiency, incandescent, etc.)
2) Bought "extenders" so bulbs come down further in can
3) Iinstalled "eyeball" sockets so we can direct light on to mirror, to see if reflected light would help.

Still bad. Decided to try wall sconces. Bought six beautiful George Kovac wall sconces (see pic) three for each side. Now mirrors are the issue. My side of vanity is 104.5 inches long, with a 41.5 inch long "vanity area" that is about 6 inches lower than the "sink area". The sink is centered in the counter. Hubby's side is 90 long, sink centered.

I can't figure out how to make mirrors work. We have already had to put a lot of money in the house with maintenance items, so wanted to buy off the shelf mirrors--something inexpensive, plain, and framed in brushed nickel (or look). Found some really nice mirrors at Ikea, the Svensby. There are two sizes----35 3/8 high with one 17 3/4 wide and the other 27 1/2 inches wide. Was hoping on my side of the bathroom to hang two of the 27.5 mirrors with a sconce on either side and one centered and the one mirror centered on the sink. But when I made mock-ups out of paper and hung them, the one above the vanity area looked odd because it is so high and if I center one on the sink, it knocks off the symetry. (I think the long, dark framed mirror is working because it's one piece) On hubby's side, was thinking of hanging two of the 17.75 mirrors, but got so cfrustrated with trying to figure out my side I didn't even work with his.

So am thinking I either need to get frameless mirrors custom cut to size or even completely "fill" with mirror. Or thinking I need to get professional help. But I don't know who to call. Someone who works at a mirror/glass store or a lighting person (although we already have our sconces). Or interior designer? But I just need help with my bathroom dilemma and I don't really need to purchase anything from anyone except mirrors---not much profit for someone. And if I go with a designer---how do I find someone who will just provide advice for a fee? (Contractor great---super work---not a designer) I need any suggestions, please! Thank you!
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Carolyn Albert-Kincl, ASID
While I think I mostly understand your dilemma, I'm not understanding the dimensions, which don't seem to add up. Would you mind making a drawing of the two areas, please, with dimensions shown?

But since I somewhat understand, I will hazard an answer which is to install wall to wall mirror above the splash, with holes cut for your six new Kovacs light fixtures.
June 14, 2013 at 6:04PM     
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deedeedavidsondesign
I agree that a wall-to-wall mirror would be a good solution for you (even though we don't do them that much anymore) because of the changing elevations of the countertop.
But I think your choice of sconces is off, even though they are nice. You have oil-rubbed bronze faucets, so your fixtures should match. Your bathroom's decor has kind of a mountain look, so stay with the oil-rubbed bronze- it'll go great with those cabinets. And you should consider putting one sconce on each side and one in the middle of the mirror, all mounted in the mirror. Three on each side would be odd.
An experienced electrician should be able to do this for you! I have had mine mount sconces right in the mirror for several clients.
June 14, 2013 at 6:18PM     
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Carolyn Albert-Kincl, ASID
I totally agree that the finishes should match and presumed that you were showing us only the style of the fixture, but for sure deedee was right that the contemporary slant of the Kovacs fixtures does not fit in with your chiseled edge countertops and knotty wood cabinets.
June 14, 2013 at 6:24PM     
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Ed
Hi dbs, in addition to Ikea, there are other websites that carry mirrors and lighting fixtures. For example --
LunaWarehouse.com
LightingDirect.com
there are others.
June 14, 2013 at 7:13PM     
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Margo
Could you buy converter kits for the recessed lights and change them to pendant? I definetly agree with the above posters on all wall mirror with each side beveled.
June 14, 2013 at 7:41PM     
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Murano Art Glass Australia
We have an incredible range of Murano Glass lighting for you to choose from, all of which can be matched to suit any Decor or situation. Please contact me if interested
June 15, 2013 at 1:43AM   
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Sara Parker
In the meantime, lamps at the sides might help. If you don't like the idea of wall to wall mirror, you could "frame" it in dark wood or match your vanity.
June 16, 2013 at 7:56AM     
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dbs959
So grateful to get some thoughts. This dilemma literally keeps me up and night!

To address your comments: it’s a “gallery” style bath, with my vanity/sink counter running along one wall and DH’s on opposite wall. The sink counter on my side of the bath is 63 inches long with a centered 10 inch sink then drops down 5 ½ inches to a 41 ½ inch vanity counter. Hubby’s counter is a straight shot (no vanity) that is 90 inches long with a 10” centered sink. You have to look hard at the photos to see that I am showing you two different counters---one with vanity and one with none. The granite is pretty, but the natural patterns of color and texture causes optical illusions. And everything “blends” on it---I have to find hair clips and pony-tail holders by feel, not sight!

Yes, the oil-rubbed bronze fixtures are GOING! Like I said, this was a foreclosure/flip and investor replaced fixtures with current fixtures. They look nice in photo, but in person they are very ugly (they have like this weird red undertone), but worse of all, they are very flimsy and plastic-y. I will be replacing them with some nice, classic brushed nickel faucets. I have to admit I don’t love the alderwood cabinets----I don’t know what it’s officially called---I call it a “pleated” door design---is such a dust-catcher! I also don’t like having to reach under the drawers and cabinets to open them. (Especially with our scorpion problem---it’s kind of high adventure to grab anywhere you can’t see!) So I am having our contractor put on brushed nickel cabinet pulls. I bought a couple in the style I like and “puttied” them up to test the look and it works. So the George Kovacs sconces and fixtures will all be the same finish.

We’d still have the same issue with pendant lights---they would look beautiful--there’s so many great choices---but the downward cast light would still produce odd shadows and back-lighting. But once we get the sconces up, I am thinking about a pendant or chandelier for the center of the bath---there is a plate in the ceiling where something was at one time. The flipper probably took something out.

My problem with off the shelf mirrors is I think the tops of the mirror should be at the same height, which means the mirror above the vanity area would be “floating” oddly several inches above the counter---the vanity does not have a backsplash. That is why I am thinking I should look at custom-sized frameless mirrors.

I have been thinking and thinking on this. I think having a wall-to-wall mirror with holes drilled for the fixtures would look luxe, very fancy spa, but logistically, trying to carry into the bath mirrors that are 104 ½ and 90 inches long would be impossible. I made DH help me try with a ladder (as pretend mirror) and you can’t make the turn from the door into the bath with anything longer than about 80 inches. (He is starting to hate the word mirror and bath in the same sentence.) So, my conclusion is I will have to go with three lights and two mirrors above my side---each mirror centered on the particular area (vanity and sink) and the width and length of the mirror depending on counter height and width of counter. And DH gets one mirror, centered above his sink with two sconces. Then I either return the sixth light to LampsPlus or keep as “just-in-case”.

So now I am stressing on the width of the mirrors. The fixtures are six inches wide---I am thinking at least two inches between them and the mirror, so on my side of the bath, I would need at least 30 inches devoted to “space” and sconce and the rest would be mirror. I am thinking DH’s mirror would be 36 inches wide with a sconce on either side. That would leave about 25 inches of “negative” space on his side. (If the numbers don’t work, I apologize---my math skills stink!)

Does this sound like an acceptable solution? You know how it is when you are over-thinking something---you become overwhelmed and paralyzed. I am afraid there is something I am not taking into consideration or a better choice I have missed.

Thanks so much for your help!!!!!!
June 16, 2013 at 10:07AM   
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Carolyn Albert-Kincl, ASID
The mirror company will divide your mirror into smaller pieces and fit them together on the no site.take a look at mirrors in houzz bath photos and you'll see that the big ones are done in pieces.
June 16, 2013 at 1:26PM     
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Restoring our 1890 Victorian
We installed our sconces through the glass… it really doubles the light, AND allows you to position the fixtures to get light near your face so that you can actually see what you’re doing!

Maybe that would be a solution that would let you use what you already have?

June 17, 2013 at 6:08AM     
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Carolyn Albert-Kincl, ASID
Here's one of my favorite bath photos which shows an excellent example of how pieces of mirrors can be fit together into one big mirror.
June 17, 2013 at 8:28AM     
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dbs959
That is stunning! Love the horizontal lines. I wonder how that would look with the vertical "slats" of my current cabinet....
June 17, 2013 at 11:16AM   
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Sara Parker
You have a great opportunity to install mirrors at the sides, also, for a really great dressing table effect, similar to the DIY bathroom remodel above. Bevelled edges would add glamour.
June 17, 2013 at 11:51AM   
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maryoroyne
Electric Mirrors
June 17, 2013 at 1:25PM   
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Carolyn Albert-Kincl, ASID
Okay, mary, what are electric mirrors?
June 17, 2013 at 5:36PM     
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maryoroyne
http://www.electricmirror.com/ for me it all started when I could not find decorative lights for above the mirror in the bathroom we are completely remodeling.. my contractor suggested putting led lights behind a mirror.. and then I found this website.. and went to our local distributor a saw one and WOW.. ! Good Luck !
June 17, 2013 at 6:01PM     
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Carolyn Albert-Kincl, ASID
Yes, I have seen those mirrors, mary, and they are really cool! But probably too contemporary for dbs959. I think that dbs can use wall to wall mirrors with the light fixtures mounted through the mirror as we discussed above. But I'm delighted you posted this info as it's a wonderful solution to bathroom lighting and mirrors for many other people.
June 17, 2013 at 6:11PM   
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Carolyn Albert-Kincl, ASID
@dbs959, I think that the horizontal lines of the mirrors would work fine with your vertical cabinet lines and will make installation easier.
June 17, 2013 at 6:13PM   
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the essentials inside
Hi all! I read all the posts, but I'm a little (ok, a lot) sleepy, so I might have missed a discussion on this idea --

What about not putting a mirror above the vanity seat area -- see the pic below --

Viewridge Craftsman

Here's another interesting idea:
Duneseye


Even with those two suggestions, I do like the idea of a full mirror w/the sconces installed through the glass.

Lyvonne

P.S. dbs959 - I did have to go back and look closer at the two pics to see they were different!
June 17, 2013 at 8:13PM     
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Dee
I agree that there is no need for the mirror to continue over the vanity, you will be using a makeup mirror in that space. The Duneseye picture looks great and with some interior led lighting the wall cabinet would help with the scorpion problem and provide a great space for makeup, etc.
June 18, 2013 at 5:26AM   
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Lisa Studio Interior Design
have a nice mirror above the vanity only with sconces light or vanity light to add light. Your wall sconces does not seem to be enough and have a built-in cabinet if you have the budget for the other side of the sink. It will need to be no more than few inches but it will be using space inside the wall as well so it will be enough space for make-up storage etc...
June 18, 2013 at 7:25AM   
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Lisa Studio Interior Design
I will stay with iron finish for your sconces or vanity light fixture to match your hardware in the space. You could go with traditional or transitional ones but not contemporary and brush nickel!
June 18, 2013 at 7:29AM   
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dbs959
Mary: I love the electric mirrors! We stayed in a luxe hotel that had them, but I did not know what they are called. I am not so sure they would be too contemporary, but I think they would be too spendy. DH is getting very clutchy on the checkbook. He just doesn't get it!
Carolyn: I am very attracted to the photo you sent. My design sensibility is contemporary, so that really appeals. We spent two years looking for this house---I wanted my cake and eat it too---a contemporary house with an incredible view that we could afford----I had to settled for the latter two and our territorial does have some contemporary lines and I am trying to "sharpen" it up to the style I like without making it look ridiculous. I am thinking to combine your idea of the horizontal cut mirrors with other ideas---I am going to see how much it would cost to have the holes drilled for the sconces because I agree with 1890 that would really increase the reflection.
Essentials: The Craftsman photo you sent really illustrates my issue, which is that the header of the two mirrors need to run the same line but have to be properly sized for the space. The Dunseye picture is VERY interesting---I never thought about NOT having a mirror---I do use a nice lighted 10x makeup mirror now that presbyopia is sneaking in. I maybe couldn't afford a custom cabinet for the area----to house my collection of cookbooks, I had kitchen cabinets pulled out and a customer bookshelf built----it doesn't match exactly because the alder cabinets are 16 years old and their finish has aged and I guess it is not so easy to get "matching" grains. (But with the cookbooks loaded, it looks good) But maybe a piece of art. Or I am a perfume fool. Maybe I could paint or paper a section of that wall a different color (I promised DH I would leave everything cream and bring color in with accessories---he didn't know I was going to do orange, blue and green with a dab of yellow, heeheehee) then run glass shelves to display all my bottles---I have some beauties. But then it's something to dust, and my mantra is, if I have to dust it, I don't have to have it.
Lisa: The rubbed oil finish fixtures are very flimsey and inexpensive and sort of garish---they have like this reddish undertint that is kind of nasty. We will be replacing them with brushed nickel. maybe something like this----DH loves this one.
June 18, 2013 at 8:37AM     
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mkushi
I've seen some great suggestions here on lighting for your bathroom, some are really good. However I noticed one comment of yours about not being really pleased with the rustic cabinet finishing... it's been my experience that no matter what you do to a space, if you are not completely happy with the foundation finishes, you're going to feel it every time you walk into the room. I do.

I would suggest that after you've thought more about the lighting style and mirror direction, that you perhaps change the finish on the cabinets to harmonize more with what seems to be a modern direction you are considering, and one that would highlight the live edge granite as if it were purposeful, and by design, and in a modern finish that will go with your lighting.

It has been my experience, which I will NEVER repeat, that to design around a feature that bugs you, will eventually cost you more money, time and frustration in the long run.

Refinishing the cabinets would take a weekend. If they are true wood, this will work, if it's veneer, you can stop reading here! But, it's a lot easier than it sounds and you can do this yourself. Take all the doors, drawers, cabinet fittings, etc, off and set up a good work space (it will get dusty!)

You'll need a couple of palm sanders and can take the top finish off with an 80 grit but be careful not to leave groove marks and go easy, and then go over everything completely with a 220 grit to get the wood down to a satiny planed finish .

That's the easy part. Deciding upon whether to paint, stain, or change the cabinet door style altogether will be good studies in color, especially against the granite.

I did this in a very large, very rustic kitchen... the walls are aged shiplap pine that are gorgeous, but the cabinets were a hideous red-orange cherry over pine, with 90 sq ft of ugly gray countertops. I bought this place 6 months ago and tried and tried and tried to work around the cabinets, but in the end I hated them and felt like regardless of what I did, it would be like putting lipstick on a pig...

My contractor wanted to charge me $5000 and 10 days to sand/stain the cabinets, and being mindful of my construction budget (read tightwad...the building I bought 6 months ago is 20,000 sq ft and we are still renovating).

I decided to do it myself. It took me and my daughter (we have never done this before but discovered it doesn't take a lot of skill, just patience) ... two girls, two days, and the cost of two palm sanders, sand paper discs, and lots of minwax tester pots to come up with a very modern stain that I now love.

It transformed the huge kitchen into a room that makes me give a sigh of comfort to every time I walk in, instead of feeling like, oh... I can just live with it. If it doesn't bother you, don't go to the trouble if you can live with it.

But especially that you have a lower seated vanity where you will sit and take care of yourself, noticing the cabinets all the time, you should definitely love that space.
June 19, 2013 at 4:42AM   
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druesig
Could be just me but I think the galley style is the problem. You look in your mirror and you see hubby's and your and hubby's and...like a fun house. Sorry I have no suggestions on how to NOT look old, tired, and sick in all these reflections. Do you really need two HUGE mirrors on both walls?? And I can see the problem with things getting lost on the counter tops!!! Good luck!
June 19, 2013 at 5:18AM   
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rhodalynn
I think the mirror is fine. Maybe you can paint the frame a color that is a shade darker than your walls or pick up a color from the granite. I have a vanity with a large wall mirror over my vanity but I really just use the smaller mirror (like you have) on the table. Also, I would use a converter kit for your ceiling lights so they are hanging pendants.
June 19, 2013 at 7:40AM   
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uberv
Many years ago we replaced wall to wall plate glass mirrors and light bars with up lights and sconces. The sconces will get rid of the shadow problem that you get with just overhead fixtures. I bought three plate glass mirrors from the local glass shop and went to American Frame and had three custom frames built to hold them. I know the style is not the same as yours but the sconces do work. They need to have the lamps above eye level of the tallest person who will use the sink or frosted glass shades to eliminate glare.
June 19, 2013 at 2:36PM   
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dbs959
Thanks for sharing the photo, Uberv. I like your objects d'art! May I ask what that curious blue and white swirl-y thing is sitting between the sinks? It's intriguing!
June 19, 2013 at 3:48PM   
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uberv
That about sums it up. My husband brought it back from Harrods' after a business trip to London. Its basically a group of unglazed textured porcelain tubes with the tips stained blue. It was similar to the nautilus on the Rosenthal vase and the collection grew from there. The life masks have shells that I collected as a kid in Florida.
June 19, 2013 at 5:24PM   
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lnpbain
I had the same problem. Enlarging the mirror helped tremendously. Now I don't start the day with dark circles under my eyes!
June 19, 2013 at 7:30PM   
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Archevie Design
Have you considered framing the mirror wall with tile? If you could find something that compliments the granite, fill the space between the splash and mirror so the bottom of the mirror is straight. Go around the sides and top, then set the mirror in flush. If you are a DIY person, there are easy sheets of mosaic tile. The lights can go in the tile or in the mirror. The trick would be complimenting the granite, but I'm sure it's possible to find something.
June 19, 2013 at 7:51PM   
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bzb22
Time to call in the experts. The people who do this all the time. Call an electrician and get info where they pull wiring for sconces. They'll have a general idea how they need to me. Explain that you want them mounted on glass. Then call a good glass company. They cAn custom size two separate mirrors that can be installed wall to wall over your vanity. Both trades will explain who should do what when and how to coordinate. It sounds like you kinda know what you want but mot how to get there. Call in the pros. Their advice is free.
June 19, 2013 at 9:34PM   
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bzb22
And beveled edge frameless mirrors are a clean look that gies well with any decor.
June 19, 2013 at 9:36PM   
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Hayley Finnis
Not really sure what you can do about the lighting except adding a wall sconce either side of the mirror.
My advice on the mirror situation is to keep the mirror you have but paint the wall behind it. I would go for a dark colour very similar to the frame. That will also freshen up the look of the vanity as well.
June 20, 2013 at 4:03AM   
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palatti
Take both giant mirrors down and reuse them in the dining/living area as lean against the wall kind. Sarah and Candice do it all the time. Hit flea markets and antique shops, Craigslist, find two unmatched framed mirrors and paint them the same color (your choice). Keep your eyes open for cabinets that are similar to yours and add a shallow storage cabinet to the vanity area of your sink and to each side of your hubs side. Paint/stain or leave the cabinets the way they are...rustic is a warm and welcoming look but if you hate them then change them. Dark dark brown would go with the awesome granite counters. If you don't feel comfortable wiring up your sconces (surprisingly simple) then your expense for the electrician would be another add on.
No matter what changes you make the good thing is that if it isn't to your liking you can keep redoing it till you get it right for you. Good luck.
June 21, 2013 at 5:04PM   
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Cory
Easy! Replace the two recessed lights on either side of the sinks with miniature chandeliers/pendants, then either do the same for the recessed light on your vanity or just add a pretty table lamp in the corner and leave the recessed light there. Try lumens.com for lights Good luck!
June 23, 2013 at 7:21AM   
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Cory
Also, if you'd like to keep the sconces, just have them mounted directly onto the existing mirror.
June 23, 2013 at 7:22AM   
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