Picking A Vanity, Mirror, And Light Fixture For The Bathroom

by Darwin Hall

bathroom fixtures aged bronze

I’m almost done with this small bathroom remodel — besides choosing a few more items.

I need to pick a new vanity, an updated mirror, and a bath bar light fixture.

So I decided to take a road trip to a few local home stores to see what I could find.

When I built the bathroom, I started with the tub surround area’s tile I already had and installed.

It’s a gray porcelain subway tile, with each piece being 3 x 6 inches.  It has really awesome patterns in the surface that are supposed to mimic wood grain.

Some of the pieces have lots of the grain lines, while others didn’t have any.  I let it set the stage for the rest of the room, because the tile is such a centerpiece for the bathroom, and it is one of the first things I installed when I began this project, besides the wood-look flooring.

See also:  How To Install A Vanity Countertop

I decided the main hardware finish to go along with the tile in the room for the tub shut-off and shower was an oil-rubbed bronze, which is pretty popular now.

The bronze finishes will really contrast the stark gray and white colors of the room.  I’ll sometimes refer to the finish as, “aged bronze” in this article, but they are the same.

I also matched the porcelain tile with a new floor made of the same material, with the wood grain look in it, too.

A few things about the demolition phase

I began the remodel by removing the old ceramic tile floor, which took a few days to do.  It had ½ inch cement board underneath the tile, making the finished floor too high — in relation to the rest of the house.

I later installed ¼ inch board, which brought the finished floor level to the floor in the hallway.  Here’s a picture of the bathroom before starting:

beige bathroom

The old floor didn’t come out easily, plus the bathroom is on the second floor of the home.

The biggest thing that helped me was the fact that the floor was installed on regular cement board, which fragmented pretty well enough during demo to expose most of the screw heads which held the backer board.  It made removing the stuff that much easier.

The tile itself was a bit of a challenge, too.  It was well-stuck to the substrate.  So, many of the pieces broke up while I was removing them.

The tools I used to demo the floor were:

  • a cold chisel,
  • large crowbar-styled prybar,
  • a mini sledgehammer,
  • and a smaller hand prybar.

I also employed a garbage can with wheels and rolled all of the demoed materials down the stairs and out of the home.

ceramic tile floor demolition

demoing the bathroom floorThe demolition was pretty labor intensive, which I pulled off in a couple of days.  The dust and debris seemed to go on forever!

Finishing up the gray bathroom

After installing the floor, tub surround tile, installing bead board paneling, and painting the room, it was time to actually go out and find a sink and mirror to finish this project.

bathroom tile project

My first task was to pick a lighting fixture for the vanity.  I didn’t quite know what I wanted for the light, besides the continued theme of oil-rubbed bronze as a part of the design.

I looked at a bunch of fixtures, but they all had plain, frosted glass shades included with the light.  Some used special LED bulbs, while other styles accepted traditional socket-type bulbs.

bath bar choices

I was limited in the width of the bath bar, due to the size of the bathroom.  I decided the bar should be no wider than 24 inches, perhaps even smaller because of the limited space between the wall and toilet.

I then came across something a little different that stood out to me, and I knew I had found the lighting I would use.


The light bar I picked has a minimalist look with an industrial-styled feel to it.  The glass shades are different than most of the other lights I looked at because of the white horizontal lines on them.

I know it is hard to see in the picture above, but the lines reminded me of the wood grain on the floor and tub walls.  It tied in to the whole “wood grained” theme.  I went back to the job-site and installed the fixture immediately. 😉

Picking a mirror and vanity

Next up, I went to search for a decent mirror and vanity.  My guidelines for this were that I find a vanity that looked like furniture, and the unit must have a solid surface for the basin.

I also wanted a dark wood to tie into the bronze theme.  I felt the dark wood color would add contrast with the white bead board paneling and gray color of the room.  The width for both the sink and mirror is roughly going to be the same — about 24 inches.

I then looked at a bunch of sink combos.  What I found is many come with their own matching mirrors.

I determined I didn’t want that cookie-cutter style, because the mirror I thought about for this bathroom would need to have “character”, which means that I want it to stand out, but still look like it’s a part of the design.

At one of the home stores, I found what I was looking for.  The mirror I found matched the light fixture spot-on.  It has the rubbed-bronze finish.

It also has a unique frame design with beautiful arches, that will compliment the curved front of the vanity.  And it’s a fog-free mirror, meaning it won’t cloud up during hot showers, which is perfect for a bathroom.

oil rubbed bronze mirrorPicking the vanity

The old pedestal sink I removed was adequate for the space previously, but had no storage.  The new vanity would need added storage space, perhaps drawers for items like spare towels, wash clothes, and cleaning supplies.

Many basins that come with these units have a granite- or marble-like patterns on the sink, but I decided I wanted an all-white basin, which would compliment the tub and toilet.  It’s still cultured marble, but “playing-it-safe” it seems is the best option.

The vanity I chose has a contoured front, making the unit appear smaller than it really is.  For the size of the room, it was the perfect choice.  The solid wood doors are equipped with soft-closing, adjustable hinges and brushed stainless-steel knobs.

Choosing a faucet

To me, the faucet is just the coolest.  It is made like a kitchen faucet, without separate hot and cold handles.  It fits standard, 4 inch wide bore holes found in most basins.

The unit is equipped with a special plate to cover the extra holes.  When you cut on the water, it comes out like a waterfall!  Love it.

bath mirror and faucet

It took every bit of 10 minutes to install.  I put the faucet in before I placed the basin on the cabinet, which made this task that much easier, instead of fumbling under the sink with a basin wrench.

It came with a pop-up drain in a matching finish.  I used a small garbage can to hold the basin up while I installed the sink hardware.

installing bath faucet

I then applied a bead of silicone to the top of the vanity and firmly set the basin in place.  Only thing I had to do was hook up the water supply lines to the back wall and install the drain pipe.

In the picture below, the dark chestnut vanity contrasts the light colors of the room.  I was drawn to the way the vanity is built like furniture, with legs on the bottom like a table.

bathroom vanity bead board

bath fixtures aged bronze

gray subway tile aged bronzeAfter installing these fixtures, I then searched for a corresponding toilet roll and towel holder.  I found almost exact matches, and installed the items.  I also bought a grab bar for the tub wall.  I’ll later install that, too.

oil rubbed bronze toilet roller towel barThere are a few more things I’ll place in the room when they come in, like a new shower door.  The door I ordered from the supplier needs to go back, because of the way it’s made.  It is basically a half shower glass unit that has a door that swings out into the room.  This would make the door hit the toilet, which is no good for function.

I plan to replace it with a clear glass sliding door.  I want a door that is frameless, to better showcase the tile, right?

Besides that, I need to secure the plumbing supply pipes that are located in the back access panel to the tub.  I’ll do this with a few copper wire hangers.  I’ll also put in a slow-close toilet seat and a new, braided water supply line for the commode.

Here’s a quick tip:  I caulked the base of the toilet with clear silicone, leaving about an inch or so gap at the back of the unit to detect any possible future leaks.

caulk base of toiletThe best way to get a nearly flawless bead is to tape the area off, then pull the tape at the right time, usually about 20 minutes.

The silicone will be just dry enough so as not pull any up when removing the tape.  If you wait a day, the silicone will be too cured, and possibly you will remove the bond created at the base of the toilet and floor.  – end of quick tip 🙂

As I was working on the toilet, I noticed there was a lot of empty space above it.  I’ll make good use of the area by adding some shelves, and maybe storage cabinets.

I’m thinking about using a closet organizer unit, built all the way up to the ceiling.  The depth of the cabinet will need to be shallow though, because if it’s deeper than the tank, the room will appear smaller than it really is.

Published on October 12th 2016 by Darwin, in DIY Diaries.

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