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Bathroom Mirrors – Framed, Frameless, or Functional?

Every bathroom has a mirror, but not all bathroom mirrors are created equal. Some are framed and others frameless, some with built in storage, lights, or other features, and many more without. But with so many choices, it can be a little difficult to know which one is right for you and your bathroom – and all too easy to opt for a pre-packaged mirror that might not be the best fit for your needs. So, before you buy, consider all the types of bathroom mirrors out there to be sure you choose the best one for you.

Frameless Bathroom Mirrors

Double Bathroom Vanity With Full-Wall Frameless Mirror (by De Mattei Construction)
Double Bathroom Vanity With Full-Wall Frameless Mirror (by De Mattei Construction)

Popular in high-end design, especially in larger bathrooms, frameless mirrors take up all the space on the wall above your vanity, from the top of the backsplash all or nearly all the way up to the ceiling, and often all the way across the wall horizontally. Frameless mirrors are made of a single large piece of glass, and so can be quite expensive, but offer the fullest reflection of any type of bathroom mirror. They don’t have any storage, but can help make a bathroom seem much larger than it is, and can easily be used by multiple people at once.

Framed Bathroom Mirrors

Danube 24" Mirror in White M-DANUBE-24WT from Ryvyr
Danube 24″ Mirror in White M-DANUBE-24WT from Ryvyr

These simple, relatively small bathroom mirrors are the type that are frequently packaged with pre-made bathroom vanities. Designed to be hung at face height, they offer much less coverage than a frameless mirror, but will get the job done. Framed bathroom mirrors don’t come with any storage (though framed, recessed medicine cabinets offer much the same look with included shelving) but often have a sort of homey appearance to them. They also work especially well in pairs, with one mounted over each basin in a double sink vanity.

Decorative Framed Mirrors

Bathroom Mirror WA3037-M from Legion Furniture
Bathroom Mirror WA3037-M from Legion Furniture

Technically decorative framed mirrors are just framed mirrors, but rather than simple rectangular wood frames, these feature elaborate carved wood details or painted accents, sometimes in unique shapes. Decorative mirror frames are often packaged with traditional or antique style bathroom vanities to help coordinate the wood work between the two. Stylish art piece mirrors can also be purchased separately to dress up a simple modern decor.

Storage Mirrors

Mirror Cabinet WA3129-C from Legion Furniture
Mirror Cabinet WA3129-C from Legion Furniture

Storage mirrors are becoming more popular in modern bathroom design, and can frequently be found packaged with efficient modern vanities. Essentially, these are a compromise between framed mirrors and medicine cabinets, replacing a simple rectangular frame with ledges for storage, small cubbies or shelves, and even hand towel bars. The storage component doesn’t block the bathroom mirror, of course, and is typically made out of the same material as the vanity (like a frame). It also allows for over-the-sink storage without having a large swing-out door like a medicine cabinet.

Medicine Cabinets

Senza 20" Wide Bathroom Medicine Cabinet with Mirrors FMC8058 from Fresca
Senza 20″ Wide Bathroom Medicine Cabinet with Mirrors FMC8058 from Fresca

The old standby of bathroom storage, medicine cabinets are seeing a resurgence in popularity after going out of vogue for many years. Medicine cabinets are simply a mirror-fronted cabinet that can either be mounted to the wall above your sink or recessed into it, providing a bathroom mirror and hidden shelved storage in one. Medicine cabinets with mirrors built inside the door and behind the shelves can be a little more convenient, and in addition to being used as a primary bathroom mirror, they can also be mounted to an adjacent wall for added storage. Many newer medicine cabinets have even gotten a high-tech makeover, with luxury features like built in TVs, sound systems, outlets, and cold storage for a spa-like luxury experience.

Backlit Mirrors (And Other High Tech Bathroom Mirrors)

Jamie LED Lighted Mirror CVJA2432LED from Civis USA
Jamie LED Lighted Mirror CVJA2432LED from Civis USA

Medicine cabinets aren’t the only bathroom mirrors getting a high-tech makeover, with backlit mirrors especially becoming hugely popular. These are bathroom mirrors with lights installed either directly behind or right into the surface of the mirror, so they shine outwards on your face, eliminating unsightly shadows cast by overhead lights. These can either be purchased pre-made or custom built, depending on the size of the mirror and lights you want. And, yes, even a standard mirror can be used to incorporate television screens that you can watch while you bathe or shave, but that blend right back into the mirror when they’re turned off!