Designer Advice for Lighting and Mirrors

Whether you're getting dressed to begin the day or merely confirming that you're presentable, having a good mirror and lighting makes all the difference. See how designers Nina Nash Long and Don Easterling find a pleasing solution to a tricky situation.

Designer Advice for Lighting and Mirrors

It happens more often than you might think: A powder room or bathroom has only one exterior wall, and it’s the same wall where the sink and required cabinetry are best located. To complicate matters further, natural light is important in any room, and the need for mirrors is crucial. This was the initial challenge Nina Nash Long and Don Easterling faced when they, along with architect C. Brandon Ingram, set about updating a beloved, 1920s Atlanta residence.

As head designers for Mathews Furniture + Design, Long and Easterling quickly realized that the home’s second floor sleeping porch would better serve the homeowners as their new suite. “Although the porch’s outer walls were long, they were also filled with windows,” says Easterling. “Despite this, we chose to place their new, his-and-her vanities and central makeup counter against the flank of windows, while positioning the tub near a shorter interior wall.”

As a result, when it came time to install the mirrors, the designers simply attached them directly to the intermediate window trim. Completing the effects, the duo hung sheer café curtains across the lower window sashes to maintain a balance of privacy and welcomed sunlight. “Not only does this solution provide a soothing glow that comes from behind the mirrors, the views outside are largely unobstructed,” says Long.

There are other ways of resolving this curious conundrum. Where there’s little room for both a window and mirror, getting sections or panels of mirrored glass cut to fit around your fenestration can remedy matters.

If the window is too large or unavoidable, securing a mirror inside the window frame, particularly in front of the lower sash of a double-hung, allows both reflection and light to occur. For smaller vanities or wash basins, attaching a mirror to retractable arms enables it to be moved out of the way when not needed “You can also hang mirrors from chains, rods, and even hidden supports,” says Long. “We’ve tackled this issue by using several different methods, and basically, it just depends upon the space.”

Of course, building a new house or addition is the most reliable plan to ensure success. Since a mirror is typically centered above the sink, window locations are best offset or pushed to the far extremes of a wall to free up enough interior space.

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