The bathroom is simultaneously one of the most difficult spaces in your home to light well, and the place where it’s most important to do so. While lighting for function and ambiance is important everywhere, inside and outside of your home, the bathroom is where you do your grooming, and the one place to get yourself looking the way you want before you step outside. Inadequate lighting in the bathroom means that not only will your morning routine be a little dark and dull, but also that you won’t be putting your best face forward. So what can you do to improve task lighting in your bathroom? Consider investing in backlit mirrors.
Typically bathroom mirrors are surrounded by lights, with a bar of lights on top or a sconce on either side. But though these lights are bright, they inevitably cast light from above or the sides, which shadows parts of your face, making it more difficult to shave or apply makeup. Backlit mirrors like this Fly F3 cast light from inside the mirror and directly in front of you, ensuring that there won’t be any shadows on your face at all.
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So how does that work? Backlit mirrors, sometimes called backlighted mirrors or electric mirrors, are essentially mirrors with LED lights imbedded inside the mirror. Backlit mirrors like this Backlighted Mirror produce a pure white light that gives a true sense of color as well as a shadow-free reflection, making it easier than ever to get a genuine sense of what you’ll look like outside the bathroom, even without any natural lighting.
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The lights in backlighted mirrors are typically embedded in the sides or around the frame of the mirror so they won’t block your reflection. That said, I’ve seen some pretty cool custom backlit mirrors that have elaborate, bubbly patterns of lights that decorate (as well as light up) a full wall. In a way, something like this Fly FL7 is an answer to the old Hollywood vanities and makeup mirrors, replacing the big round bulbs with more subtle circular designs, keeping the impression of the old style but giving it a modern twist.
However big or small the mirror or how many lights it has, and however pretty it might be, the primary function is to illuminate your face. It can be difficult to find the right balance of ambient light in a bathroom – especially if you’re building a big, luxurious dream bathroom – but backlit mirrors have little or nothing to do with elaborate bathroom chandeliers or any of your other layered bathroom lighting. Something like this Concept One Mirror can more than easily replace an above the mirror light or a pair of sconces, but even in a relatively small bathroom, it won’t be enough to light the whole room.
In that light, you want to think of backlighted mirrors as an upgrade or an add-on (like makeup mirrors) rather than a replacement or alternative for your existing lighting. That said, it’s one of my favorite (and oft-overlooked) little luxury upgrades that you’ll actually use every day. While a whirlpool tub might sit unused for weeks at a time, having a backlit mirror is something you’ll enjoy every time you step in front of it – especially if you have a dark or windowless bathroom. Even one that’s only partially lit, or lit on one side, like this Dune Backlit Mirror can add a whole lot of functionality to your bathroom.
If you’re getting ready to do a significant bathroom remodel, this is a good time to consider backlit mirrors, too. As yet, backlit mirrors aren’t particularly common, but many high end bathroom designers like Iotti and Vigo often package backlighted mirrors with some of their modern bathroom vanities, as in the Concept One NC6 collection above. This can make it easy (and less expensive) to get a coordinated, over-all modern looking bathroom as well as the simple task lighting you need.
Of course, you don’t necessarily have to buy a whole bathroom set to get your hands on a backlighted mirror. A skilled DIYer with the right materials can make one on their own (though that’s a whole other post for another day!), contractors can build larger or wall-sized mirrors with custom cut shapes and patterns, and of course many companies just plain offer them on their own in a variety of sizes and patterns. From simple bars of LED lights to ones with pretty patterns like this Backlit Mirror from Eglo, backlighted mirrors provide the functionality of a makeup mirror, the light of a standard over-the-mirror fixture, and a modern touch that will make your bathroom utterly unique.
What do you like about backlit mirrors? Do you need a better way to illuminate your face in the morning, or are you just looking for a functional, cool looking update for your modern bathroom? Let me know in the comments!
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