Most homes have at least one of these, by default not by choice. A boring, frameless, builder-grade bathroom mirror sadly comes standard in almost every apartment and house.
Your choices are live with it, or pull it off the wall, tempt a date with a Guillotine, and replace it with a decorative hanging mirror.
To be fair, these sheets of mirrored glass stuck to your wall do the job. They help you shave, apply make-up, and fix your fly. That is the best you can say about them. As for their aesthetic value, they have none.
Folks, you don’t have to live with this.
If more people knew about MirrorMate, a company based in North Carolina that makes custom-cut, do-it-yourself, mirror-framing kits, we could end this widespread bathroom plight.
When I discovered MirrorMate 13 years ago, it was too late. I had recently finished building a house and had told the builder not to install the basic bathroom mirrors because I planned to buy and hang my own nice ones, thank you. Which I did. It was expensive and time consuming. The mirrors were heavy, a hassle to hang, and never fit flush the way attached mirrors do.
Soon after that painful process, I learned that homeowner Lisa Hunting had faced the same problem, only she came up with a better solution, which became a patented product and a company. It was genius. I vowed that next time I would use her product.
That day finally came four years after my husband, DC, and I bought the Happier Yellow. Though I had planned all along to frame the boring mirrors in three bathrooms, I first needed to replace the dated bathroom light fixtures. Those would influence my frame choice.
Last spring, we finally traded the early dungeon light fixtures for millennial silver ones, and last month the mirrors got their frames.
Hustling me along was the impending visit of seven sorority sisters flying in from five states for a long-weekend reunion at my house. (DC has submitted a prayer request to the church.) Their approach detonated a dozen deferred home improvement projects, including fluffing up the bathrooms they would be using.
On the company’s website, I surfed through 67 frame styles, and made my choices. Then, so I could have the full customer experience, I used the company’s free design consulting service. Kate Hart, an interior designer and professional home stager, looked at my photos, considered my selections, and pointed me toward three better options.
She suggested I order frame samples to make sure. Because that would have been the smart and prudent thing to do, I skipped that step and went straight to “order now.”
When the frame kits arrived, I busted open the boxes and set to work. I built and mounted three frames in under three hours. I only bugged my husband twice to help me attach the two larger frames. The cost was around $200 each.
“Why isn’t everyone doing this?” I asked Kevin Button, who bought the company from Hunting last May.
“Good question,” he said, adding that what attracted him to the company was that its product offered a creative, affordable, elegant solution to a common problem. “Everyone can do it, and it’s green,” he said. “You don’t throw old mirrors in the landfill. It’s simply a brilliant upgrade.”
How much? Prices range from $102 for a single (24”x36”) vanity mirror in the least expensive frame style, to over $200, depending on the style and size. The average price runs $178, Button said.
How do you pick? Customers often ask if they should match their cabinets or their fixtures, Hart said. “While it’s always safe to coordinate frames with hardware, you can also think of framing your mirror as a piece of artwork, and match a wood frame to the cabinets.” While Hart likes to mix metals, she doesn’t advise mixing wood tones. “I wouldn’t put a cherry frame with an oak cabinet.”
What’s popular? The trend is toward slimmer profiles, and sleeker silver finishes, and away from ornate, thick and heavy. Seven years ago, consumers wanted frames that were three-inches thick or wider. Today, they want three-inches thick or thinner, she said. Rustic is also hot.
What if my mirror has clips or outlets intruding? Part of the product’s beauty is that Hunting invented a workaround for almost every anomaly, including mirrors attached with clips, and ones that have no space between the wall or backsplash, beveled edges, and intruding outlets. The only mirrors they can’t frame are oval or round ones.
What if my mirrors have lost some silvering? Desilvering is common and happens when the silver backing on mirrors, which makes them reflective, comes off and creates dark patches. This typically happens around the edges. Because steam and moisture accelerate the process, the problem is especially common in bathrooms, Button said. Harsh cleaning products can also contribute. The mirrors I framed all had desilvered edges, and the frames completely masked the problem.
What if I remodel? Whenever you want to change the frame, just pull it off and stick up a new one.
Marni Jameson is the author of six home and lifestyle books, including "What to Do With Everything You Own to Leave the Legacy You Want," "Downsizing the Family Home–What to Save, What to Let Go, and Downsizing the Blended Home–When Two Households Become One." You may reach her at www.marnijameson.com.