Decorating a bathroom is always a balance between functionality and style; there are a number of major fixtures you pretty much have to include (like your bathtub and toilet), and unless you go really wild with your design, there isn’t a whole lot of variety among these basics. So personalization and flair have to come in in smaller ways. Installing a decorative mirror is one of my favorite ways to spice up a bathroom of any size, and it works well since it’s an element you have to have anyway, but one that you can get in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, and styles. That said, using a decorative mirror in a bathroom isn’t without it’s pitfalls, so today I want to take a quick look at a few pros and cons of this simple style choice.
Pro: Decorative Mirrors Have A Big Impact
Most bathroom fixtures and features tend to feel pretty bathroomy, and most bathroom mirrors have a very basic, simple, unobtrusive design. Choosing a mirror intended for another part of the home is an easy way to add a lot of style without making any major sacrifices; it’s a one-to-one swap with the mirror that’s already there, but adds an intentional, designer feel and a bold statement. A really funky mirror with a distinctive, eye-catching frame can easily act as a major focal point of the bathroom, adding tons of unexpected personality to a space that’s normally meant to be looked at without being seen.
Con: Decorative Mirrors Might Not Be Ideal In Terms Of Functionality
That said, one of the big drawbacks of using decorative mirrors in the bathroom is the flip side of this: those unobtrusive mirrors are designed to make it easy to see your reflection, and if you go too heavy on the designer flair, it can sort of defeat the purpose of having a mirror there at all. That collage of adorable antique mirrors hung at different heights, or cluster of chic geometric mirrors in a breathtaking asymmetrical pattern? No matter how cool they look, they don’t offer the same practical functionality. Granted, this mostly applies to groups of smaller mirrors rather than very large ones, but decorative mirrors with mirrored frames, or artistically designed mirrors with many interlocking mirrored pieces present a similar problem.
Pro: Decorative Mirrors Offer A Simple Way To Set A Distinctive Theme
Decorative mirrors are also really, really effective when you want to establish a strong, distinctive theme for your bathroom. Since there generally isn’t a ton of real estate for accessories or even artwork, the mirror might even be the only space you have to establish a theme at all. What that means is that the shape of the mirror and the style of the frame become powerful tools for telling the eye how to “see” the rest of the bathroom. So if you want a nautical theme? Hang a porthole style mirror. A rustic look? Seek out a woven driftwood frame. A glamorous Mediterranean feel? Try a big mirror with a hefty, ornate metal frame – or even a little gilding. This technique won’t work if the rest of your bathroom doesn’t match at all, but it can be just the right boost to give an almost-there but fairly neutral bathroom a strong thematic feel.
Con: A Decorative Mirror Might Not Leave Room For The Lighting
Decorative mirrors also run into a problem that simpler, plainer bathroom mirrors don’t: an ornate frame, large size, or unusually shape can often mean that decorative mirrors take up more (or at least different) space than a standard mirror would. This makes it complicated or even impossible to install an over-vanity lighting fixture, and can even complicate installing sconces on either side. Depending on the size of your bathroom, the brightness of your other lights, and the location of your existing electrical hookups, this might not be an issue. But having less light above and around a mirror can result in a shadowy reflection, which is bad for applying makeup or shaving.
Pro: A Uniquely Shaped Mirror Can Have A Stunning, Architectural Feel (Even In A Bathroom With Ordinary Architecture)
Decorative mirrors don’t have to be particularly wild or out there to make a statement. A mirror with an unusual shape (e.g. not rectangular, round, or oval) can instantly add a striking, architectural feel to a bathroom, even if the frame itself is fairly simple. Part of this is due to the window-like quality of mirrors, and part of it is due to the lack of distinctive, interesting shapes in bathrooms in general. But what it means practically is that swapping from a basic mirror to a shaped one can immediately add an exotic, whimsical, or even breathtakingly modern feel to your bathroom without making any other major changes.
Con: Choosing A Decorative Mirror Means Opting Out Of Extra Storage
This last point against using decorative mirrors in the bathroom is probably the most basic, but it’s also the most significant one for smaller bathrooms. Simply put, if you hang a decorative mirror above your bathroom vanity, you can’t put a medicine cabinet or any other type of storage in that space, and they almost definitely don’t have any built in. Since this is one of the few areas you can sneak in a little extra storage in a room where real estate is limited, sacrificing it can be a pretty big setback, and it’s one that’s hard to make up for. That said, if you don’t absolutely need the extra shelf space, a nice mirror can add personality to a small space and keep a small bathroom from feeling overly utilitarian.
How do you feel about adding a big, designer mirror to your bathroom? Do you like the slightly more decorative look, or do you think you’d miss the more traditional simplicity and functionality? Let me know in the comments below!