Mirrors buying guide

Mirrors can be used to bestow a beautiful personal touch on many of the rooms within your home, from bathrooms to bedrooms. These glass, reflective surfaces add a light feel to any space, making a hallway seem larger as you enter the house, for example. Highly useful as home accessories, mirror styles have developed over centuries, and they are now created by pouring hot metal on top of a sheet of glass. Both practical and decorative, they can be hung on walls to convey a greater sense of size and depth in a room, or added so that you can check your appearance before leaving the house.

Choosing from the vast range of mirrors can mean looking at different frame styles, such as Art Deco or engraved round and rectangular options, deciding whether you want a mirror with fluorescent lights for putting on your make-up, or looking at mirrored cabinets for extra storage. Use our handy guide to help you choose a product, and learn how to hang and take care of your new mirror as well.

Mirror styles

Mirrors have different purposes and can be designed for different parts of the house, which means the styles vary. We've broken down the main types of mirror you may come across here, and how you can identify them:

Illuminated - they come with lighting attached or incorporated and work well for putting on cosmetics or shaving in the bathroom.

Decorative - these mirrors are designed for creative decoration rather than practical use.

Standing mirrors - you don't have to worry about hanging up a standing mirror, as they stay upright independently. Both full length bedroom mirrors or smaller dressing table mirrors would be included in this category.

Modern mirrors - these give the room a contemporary vibe and may even combine styles.

Antique mirrors - these sophisticated-looking mirrors have a period style. Antique mirrors include Venetian, French Baroque and Rococo. They are generally ornate and look great with vintage themed rooms.

Creating more light with a mirror

A well-placed mirror (or two) can transform a room by making it brighter with a spacious feel. If you hang wall mirrors on two walls that face each other, the light will bounce around the room, really lighting it up. This trick works especially well in dining rooms, where friends and family will gather round the dinner table.

Create a similar effect by hanging a mirror on a dark feature wall that stands opposite a wall painted in a lighter colour. The mirror will reflect the light side of the room, establishing a naturally bright atmosphere.

Make use of windows to add sparkle too. If there's a nice view outside your house, try placing your mirror opposite a window to give your living or bedroom space a sunny ambience that replicates the natural world. You can lay the perfect finishing touches to the room in this way.

Make a room feel more spacious

Mirrors open up a room, making your living quarters seem bigger and allowing you to feel more comfortable in your home. One trick is to place an extra-large mirror above the mantelpiece of your living room. Not only does the room immediately feel more spacious, but the mirror also takes full advantage of the light to brighten up the look.

Living rooms and dining rooms are not the only areas of the home where you can get creative either. Bathroom mirrors can be used combined with a storage cabinet, for example, to hide your toothpaste, lotions and other essential items while providing a solution where you can see yourself to clean your teeth, shave or apply make-up. Placing several small square mirrors along a narrow bathroom wall automatically ensures that the space feels larger too, particularly if the wall stands opposite a tiled shower or bathtub area.

Hanging a mirror

Hang wall mirrors with frames at eye level, or slightly lower, but not more than 6 feet from the floor to the top of the mirror for a convenient position. The bottom of the mirror should be at least half a foot away from the floor. If you hang a wall mirror less than 5 feet from the floor, it's more likely to reflect carpets, laminate flooring and furniture fabrics than the light.

Standard wall mirrors

You should always check there are no pipes running behind the spot you're going to drill or hammer into before you start. Since there are different types of mirror, there's more than one way to hang them up, including the use of adhesive instead of nails and hooks. We've put together some general directions for hanging your mirror:

  1. Measure the wall space where you plan to put your mirror up. Compare the measurements of the mirror itself so that you know for sure it will fit properly.

  2. Mark on the wall with pencil where you'd like the top of the mirror to be.

  3. Does your mirror have a hanging wire on the back? If so, mark on the wall (again in pencil) where you wish to hang the mirror. If it doesn't, you'll need mirror brackets - you can also use mirror brackets for extra support - and it's a good idea to pencil on the wall where the drill holes should be.

  4. Choose the best spot on the wall for the nail, screw or hook to hang your mirror from. This should be on one of the studs, which are the vertical timbers in the wall.

  5. Before you hammer in any nails or drill in any screws, check the wall mirror alignment again. Then set up all the hardware - screws, nails, hooks, brackets, etc - in the location for your mirror (nails work best for lightweight mirrors, screws for heavier ones, and there are a hooks for a range of sizes).

  6. Finally hang your wall mirror and ensure that it's correctly aligned. Now all that remains is to clean and take care of it.

How to clean your mirror

Cleaning the glass within your new mirror is straightforward. If it's not too dirty, spray clean with some vinegar and water and wipe with a cloth - alternatively, you can simply use warm water instead. Fold your cloth into quarters and use one of them to clean the mirror from top to bottom in a zigzag movement. Then stand at a 45 degree angle to the reflective surface to detect any streaks and wipe them away with a dry quarter of the cloth.

Remove excessive dirt from the mirror with some rubbing alcohol before cleaning. Not doing so will simply cause the dirt to streak down or across the mirror while you clean it. If the mirror is excessively dirty you can clean it with some washing up liquid, diluted with warm water and a sponge.

Buying mirrors and making the most of them will make your home feel even more like a home.