Bathroom mirror makeover is pure magic

A boring, frameless, builder-grade bathroom mirror comes standard in almost every apartment and home. Your choices are live with it, or remove it from the wall and replace it with a decorative hanging mirror.

To be fair, those unattractive sheets of mirrored glass get the job done. They help you shave, put on makeup, and fix your fly. As for their aesthetic value, they have none.

People, you don’t have to live with this.

If more people knew about MirrorMate, a North Carolina-based company that makes custom, do-it-yourself mirror framing kits, we could put an end to this widespread problem in the bathroom.

When I discovered MirrorMate 13 years ago, it was too late. I had recently finished building a house and told the builder not to install the basic bathroom mirrors because I was planning on buying and hanging my own, thanks. What I have done. It was expensive and time consuming. The mirrors were heavy, difficult to hang, and never fitted like attached mirrors do.

Shortly after this painful process, I learned that owner 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 swore next time I would use his product.

Last month, my mirrors received their frames.

Pushing me was the impending visit of seven sorority sisters flying in for a long weekend reunion at my house. Their approach blew up a dozen deferred home improvement projects, including the swelling of the bathrooms they would use.

BEFORE: Dated light fixtures and a builder-grade mirror didn’t help this master bathroom. (Courtesy of Marni Jameson)

On the company’s website, I browsed through 67 frame styles and made my picks. Then, to take full advantage of the customer experience, I used the company’s free design consulting service. Kate Hart, interior designer and professional home stager, looked at my photos, reviewed my selections, and pointed me towards three best options.

She suggested I order sample frames 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 opened the boxes and got to work. I built and mounted three frames in less than three hours. I only bugged my husband twice to help me attach the two largest frames. The cost was around $200 each.

“Why doesn’t everyone do this? I asked Kevin Button, who bought the company from Hunting last May.

“Good question,” he said. “Anyone can do it, and it’s green. You don’t throw old mirrors in the landfill. It’s simply a brilliant upgrade.

Agreed.

How many? Prices range from $102 for a single vanity mirror (24 x 36 inches) in the cheapest frame style, to over $200, depending on style and size. The average is $178, Button said.

How do you choose? 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 art and matching a wood frame to the cabinetry.” 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 towards thinner profiles and sleeker silver finishes and away from ornate, chunky and heavy. Seven years ago, consumers wanted frames that were three inches thick or wider. Today they want three inches thick or less, she says. Rustic is also warm.

What if my mirror has clips or plugs that get in? Part of the beauty of the product is that Hunting has come up with a workaround for nearly every issue, including mirrors attached with clips, and those that don’t have a gap between the wall or backsplash, edges beveled or intrusive grips. The only mirrors they cannot frame are oval or round mirrors.

What if my mirrors have lost silvering? Desilvering is common and occurs when the silver backing of mirrors, which makes them reflective, peels off and creates dark spots. This usually happens around the edges. Because steam and humidity speed up 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 renovate? Each time you want to change the frame, remove it and stick a new one.