Best sizes and heights for wall mirrors – expert advice!


5 foot rule for mirror height

You have several blank walls in your home and you have a collection of mirrors. How do you hang your mirrors for the best effect? What are the recommended sizes and heights? Learn everything you need to know in this comprehensive guide.

Mirror placement is partly a matter of taste but there are important principles: use the rule of quarters to place your mirror 3/4 of the way between the floor and the ceiling. Size your mirror to be 2/3 to 3/4 the width of the furniture below. Most mirrors should be hung at eye level about 5 feet above the ground.

Should I use a single mirror or a gallery of mirrors?

An important choice for interior decorators is whether to use a single, large, show-stopping mirror or go for a collection of smaller mirrors arranged in what is known as a gallery wall.

A single, impressive mirror adds drama and gravitas to the room whereas a gallery of mirrors can tell a story that will generate interest and excitement:

Single accent mirrors
A single mirror for drama
Gallery wall of mirrors
A mirror gallery for excitement and interest

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If you have a collection of smaller mirrors and would like to make a gallery wall, follow these tips:

How to design your wall gallery of mirrors

Many homeowners have a collection of small mirrors either handed down in the family or perhaps collected from estate sales or antique shops. How do you go about arranging them into a wall gallery?

It is a good idea to vary the shapes and sizes of your mirrors but experienced designers recommend uniting the groups around a theme like the style of the frames – contemporary, traditional, country, southwestern, gilded, or rustic.

Gallery wall of mirrors in gilded and rustic styles
Two mirror gallery themes are defined by their frames: gilded (left) and rustic (right)

Other themes may be related to the composition of the frames: think Mexican tin, ultra-modern steel, or ornate gesso. Don’t forget that you can increase the excitement by adding a matching print or painting to contrast with the mirrors.

How to design the layout of your mirror gallery.

To experiment with the gallery layout, use paper or cardboard taped to the wall. This will save repairing nail holes placed in error. Remember that when considering height and position – use the gallery outline as your guide.

How to lay out a gallery wall of mirrors
How to plan a mirror layout using cardboard

Now you have decided on your single mirror or your mirror grouping: what are the principles of placement?

Principles of Mirror Placement

The exact position of your mirror will depend on numerous factors including, personal taste, the layout of your room, and the height of your family members. However, there are widely accepted and important rules that will help to guide you:

Rules for mirror width – rectangular mirrors

Optimum mirror width is between 2/3 and 3/4
Recommended mirror width is related to the size of the associated furniture

A residential mirror is most often centered above a piece of furniture. This may be a fireplace, a sofa, a credenza, a sideboard, or a table. The recommended width of a rectangular mirror is between 2/3 and 3/4 of the width of the related furniture.

Widths of mirror groups or galleries

Width of a gallery of mirrors can be 3/4 the width of the furniture
A gallery wall of mirrors over a Chippendale commode

A slightly larger width is pleasing to the eye when your grouping includes “white space” as in the case of the circular mirrors above. Here, somewhat more than 3/4 of the furniture width looks best. Use your judgment.

What are the rules for mirror height?

Use the rule of quarters

Optimum height for wall mirror
The rule of quarters to determine mirror height

In a typical room, with 8 or 9-foot ceilings, the optimal height of a wall mirror can be found by dividing the wall into four quarters. Using this method, the best mirror position is between half and three-quarters of the way up the wall as shown above. This method is a good rule of thumb on most walls except for extremely tall vaulted ceilings where a commonsense approach is better. However, always keep the height of your family members in mind as explained below:

Consider family members: use the five foot method

5 foot rule for mirror height
Most wall mirrors look good with their centers about 5 feet above the floor

Every family is different but it turns out that 5 feet is a good average distance to the eye level of a typical adult. So use this as an additional guide to mirror placement on your wall, unless you have a house full of basketball players!

Mirrors over fireplaces

A fireplace is the focal point of many traditional living rooms and a mirror over the mantle is a great way to add drama. Remember to always pay attention to the objects that will be reflected – avoid the unpleasant surprise of a less than attractive view.

Accentuate the drama with a mirror over the mantle
If in doubt, use the 5-inch rule for a mirror over the mantle

Bold, dramatic single mirrors work best over fireplaces. Use vertical or circular shapes for drama. A rule of thumb is to leave a space of about 5 inches above the mantlepiece to avoid cramping the mirror – and to allow room for accessories.

Wall mirrors between windows

In architecture, the space between large traditional windows is called the “pier”. A stylish pier mirror is a great compliment to this prime location.

Pier mirror between windows
“Pier” mirror completes the look of a pair of traditional windows

Place the mirror to “fill” the space between the two windows – vertical mirrors nearly always look best. Avoid placing mirrors on the walls opposite large bright windows – sunlight will back-light you making it difficult for you to look into the mirror.

Coordinate your mirror style with your furniture

Remember that a mirror is simply a sheet of glass with a silver coating on the back. Unadorned, it is uninteresting – it is the frame and the position on the wall that defines the mirror’s decorative appeal. Always consider the mirror in the context of the associated furniture:

traditional & contemporary sofas
Traditional leather ottoman (left) and contemporary sofa (right)

Traditional gilded, beveled mirrors match the traditional leather ottoman (left) while a playful modern arrangement of circular mirrors is ideal for the contemporary sofa (above right).

Make a vignette

Tell a story with a collection of objects including mirrors.

Antique mirror over marble table and rustic frame gallery
Marble table with antique mirror (left) and shabby chic frames (right)

An antique rococo-style, gilded mirror highlights a marble-topped Sheraton table to make a vignette complete with brass candlesticks (above left). At above right: shabby-chic reigns supreme as distressed wooden mirror frames coordinate with a rustic sideboard for a country vibe.

Functional mirrors – bathrooms & vanities

Fashion change from large mirrors (left) to individual mirrors (right)

A change in bathroom mirror styles has taken place over the last 20 years. Previously, the fashion was for large, full-width vanity mirrors, sometimes with beveled mirror strips as borders. These now appear dated and have been superseded by elegant “his and hers” custom framed mirrors (right) that provide a greater opportunity for coordination of the mirrors with the bathroom furniture. So now it can be said that larger is not better.

Tilting bathroom mirrors

Benefits of a tilt mirror

Always Consider the Function

Tilting mirrors adjust to the heights of family members. Always place function ahead of aesthetics (unless your name is Oscar Wilde).

Call Artistry in Glass for tilt mirror advice or check these numerous options on Amazon.

Positioning mirrors – a final word

Always keep your eyes wide open and your mind alert for new possibilities. The “rules” in this post are not set in stone but are intended to be broken if necessary.

Sometimes just placing a large mirror against the wall without hangers is the best solution. Always consider the tilt of the mirror to change the angle (what’s your angle man?)

Have confidence in your own taste!

Custom mirrors from Artistry in Glass for residents of Southern Arizona

If you have your own favorite frame, bring it to the mirror experts at Artistry in Glass and we will provide an appropriate mirror. Ask us for advice on luxurious beveled mirrors, sophisticated smoked or antique mirrors, or affordable 1/8″ plain mirrors. We size, cut, and install the mirrors into your frames and can also restore damaged frames.


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