The best answers aren’t always the most obvious ones. This is undoubtedly the case when it comes to placing a mirror in front of the window in a bathroom.
‘Sometimes it’s difficult to squeeze everything into a bathroom depending on its layout and how many windows there are,’ says interior designer Sophie von Wedekind of Spencer & Wedekind. The bathroom is often one of the smallest rooms in the house, and privacy is an important consideration, so organizing the layout can be challenging.
Here, interior designers explain why placing a mirror in front of the window might be the answer to one of the biggest design conundrums of the modern bathroom, as well as sharing the potential drawbacks.
1. Reserve wall space for other bathroom features
‘In this project, we decided to build the bathroom vanity unit into an alcove under the window, not just because it is the brightest part of the room by day but also to allow for a large walk-in shower and freestanding bath in the rest of the room,’ says Sophie. While placing a mirror in front of the window blocks out some of the natural light, this isn’t an issue if the window is big enough. Sophie skirted around this problem by fixing a mirror on both sides as a ‘his and hers’ for the couple living there.
‘We specified and had these bronze framed swivel mirrors made, which are not only functional with storage behind them but, along with the high gloss vanity unit and Carrara bathroom countertop we designed, compliment the scheme of the room beautifully,' Sophie adds.
2. Enjoy the view while using the basin
‘This bathroom has a stunning ocean view through floor-to-ceiling glass. Given the size of the space, something had to go against the window,’ says interior designer Madeleine Blanchfield. ‘Showers against windows are not ideal as the glass fogs up, gets dirty, and in this case, there was a privacy issue with houses across the road.’ Placing the vanity and bathroom mirror in front of the window not only resolved the issue but also came with some added benefits.
‘Treating the vanity as a piece of freestanding furniture and suspending the mirrors in front of the window allows you to face the view while using the basin. The mirror also provided a buffer to the glazing and a sense of privacy without completely blocking the outlook and light,’ explains Madeleine. ‘This solution allowed us to create a bright, uplifting, private space in the relatively narrow room with the toilet and shower tucked away behind the marble wall.’
3. Keep the WC out of view
No one wants the WC to be the first thing you see at the end of the corridor or when you go upstairs. A clever bathroom design will keep the toilet tucked politely out of view, just like Madeleine did in the powder room of a heritage house in Sydney.
‘In this space, we wanted guests to enter the room and see the vanity but have the toilet tucked away,’ she says. ‘Floating the bench and mirror in front of the window also allowed the bench to be twice the length it would have been on the other wall, and it creates a delicate and interesting, rather than just utilitarian, element in the space.’
4. Create a focal point
‘This master bathroom featured a large window across one side of the room which was not suitable for private areas like the shower or WC,’ says interior designer Shalini Misra. Placing the vanity and mirrors in front of the windows was the most suitable small bathroom layout, and it also created a focal point in the room.
‘Using the window wall for the mirrors created a challenge but had a great outcome. The mirrors were designed to be fixed to the window frames on horizontal rods, which you can't see without peering behind,’ she says. ‘This gave the wonderful effect of floating mirrors, and designing them with different shapes added a quirky, unique aspect. By putting the vanity along this wall, the floor space was kept to a maximum with a good flow.’
5. Create privacy
‘This is a pool bathroom on the rear of the home that welcomes guests during outdoor entertaining, so the mirror, while important, was not necessarily used in the same fashion a mirror is used in a primary bathroom,’ says Krysta Gibbons, Senior Designer at Kipling House Interiors. ‘We chose to put the mirror in front of the window as the view outside was of another house. So, the buffer of the window provided privacy and eliminated the need for a window treatment which would be difficult considering the natural environment of a pool bathroom,’ she explains. The bathroom sink and window also provide the ideal visual as they are direct across from the entry door with a clear sight of the pool.’
‘In this scenario, and based on the size of the space, the location of the sink and mirror was not only the ideal location but also dictated the room's layout. We designed the space based on the opportunity to place a mirror floating in a window.’
What are the cons of putting a bathroom mirror in front of a window?
While there are plenty of benefits to putting a mirror in front of a window, there are some drawbacks worth noting, especially if it’s a small window. ‘The largest drawback to placing a mirror in the window is blocking the view and light,’ says Marita Simmons, Principal Designer at Kipling House Interiors. Particularly if the window is small, the mirror will likely take up a significant portion of it. ‘It is also important to consider if the window's exterior is in a prominent place, as the back of a mirror is not ideal to see,’ she says. You don’t want it to take away your home’s curb appeal.
‘The mirror can make opening the window tricky,’ warns Madeleine. ‘However, this can be worked around, especially if the window is new and part of the design.’ She also notes that this can remove the possibility of extra storage space. ‘Many mirror cabinets have storage in them,’ says Madeleine. ‘We have done shallow storage behind a suspended mirror, but deep storage isn’t possible as it makes the refined suspended mirror too bulky.’
Is a window the best place for a mirror?
‘When there is a large window, placing a mirror in front of it is an elegant solution, and the daylight sacrificed is not detrimental,’ concludes Madeleine. ‘Of course, mirrors go above basins or benches, so the vanity must also be mounted in front of the glass. Floating the mirror and vanity well in front of the window allows light to come in around them and ensures they do not crash awkwardly into the glazing,’ she says. ‘If the window is small or the outlook unappealing, the mirror may be better located elsewhere.’
Marita agrees it can provide the best bathroom mirror lighting in daytime: ‘by placing a mirror in front of a window, you have the ideal light source to illuminate your face: natural light.’ This reduces the need for strong electric lights and opens up opportunities for other types of lighting, like sconces. If putting a mirror in front of the window isn’t an option, Shalini suggests hanging it next to it or on the adjacent wall.
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Sophie is a home interiors writer and all-around design aficionado. With a degree in History of Art and Spanish, she has a keen interest in the influence of art, history, and culture in design. Having lived in Buenos Aires for five years, Sophie is an experienced communicator in both English and Spanish with a professional background in public relations and marketing. Sophie is also an interior design student at KLC, paving the way to tell stories through interiors that inspire, serve and create experiences worth remembering. Sophie currently writes for Livingetc, Better Homes & Gardens, and Foter Magazine.
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