How to add light to poorly lit bathroom vanity mirror

Light to shine on your bathroom mirror even when you don’t have space for vanity lights

The house we’re renting at the moment has a very poorly lit en suite.

It’s served by two tiny energy saving bulbs which take far too long to warm up, and they’re set so far back from the mirror that the only thing you can ever see is your silhouette.

IKEA hack to the rescue!

bathroom vanity mirror with lights

The idea was to use a picture frame, hanging from the top edge of the mirror, and filled with LEDs.

The result: The picture frame hold the vanity lights to shine on the bathroom mirror.

This would put the light where it needs to be, be easily adjusted or removed, and allow for the wiring to be tucked behind the mirror’s edge for a clean look.

  • 1x 30x40cm IKEA picture frame – I used a “MOSSEBO”. I chose this one specifically because it allows you to have the picture close or far from the glass, which affords it the depth required to contain the LED lights. There are many other styles available which are compatible.
  • 1x DIODER Light Set – I really wanted to use the colour adjustable DIODER light set so I could simulate different kinds of lighting warmth (apparently this is important for makeup). Unfortunately that version of the light can’t manage the warm white of the plain DIODER, which is the most important tone! So I saved ten bucks and went with the fixed light DIODER set instead.
  • A Soldering Iron to take some length out of the wiring.
Testing the position of the led lights

There were two ways to fix the lights.

1. Forward facing is the most traditional and throws out the most light, but it would make the frame bulkier.

2. Side firing lights would look sleeker, but would sacrifice functionality. I had to test the output.

Light facing forward
Light facing forward - bathroom vanity mirror with lights

Light facing forward

Side firing
Side firing - bathroom vanity mirror with lights

Side firing

Thankfully, enough light is reflected off of the mirror to provide good illumination, and the side firing setup is the winner going forward!

DIY IKEA bathroom vanity mirror with lights

Discarding the transparent, card sheet, and backing layers of the MOSSEBO left me with the frame, the cardboard spacer, and enough of a cavity to just fit the DIODER strips!


Related: Full length vanity / selfie mirror with lights

Then it was just a matter of extending the daisy-chain connectors slightly to evenly space the lights with just one power wire out. I used some of the ample spare wire, my soldering iron, and some tiny heat-shrink tubing I had lying around.

Wiring the LED light

Next I removed some material from one corner of the frame spacer to allow room for the power wire, and a groove to the centre top.

wiring routing
Wiring routing
Frame built

Related: Solar-powered round makeup mirror

A couple of staples into the wooden frame are more than enough to allow the wire to take the weight. On my first try I used a staple gun, and ended up crushing the wire with the staples! These wires are pretty soft, but a second go with an office stapler worked a charm. Go softly, but remember there’s three spare lengths of wire!

wiring stapled
Hanging the mirror

To hang the frame from the mirror, I ended up utilising one of the metal clips which came with the DIODER.

I cut the plug off the base-end of the power wire and fed it through the centre hole with the intention of tying a knot on the other side, but simply tucking the wire under provided more than enough friction to hold it.

To keep the frame from tilting, you can use the double-sided foam tape which comes with the DIODER to stick the top edge to the mirror. It’s invisible, easily removable, and cleans up completely with a bit of glass cleaner.

bathroom vanity mirror with lights - hanging

The last part was to simply tuck the remaining wire behind the edge of the mirror top, then down the gap along the wall to the power socket.

To trim the unnecessary wiring, I cut the plug off the power adapter and joined it directly to the power wire from the frame (AFTER feeding it through the hanging clip!). This bypasses the 4-way adapter box and the thicker run of wire with the in-line switch. It’s FAR tidier now.

bathroom vanity mirror with lights

To completely hide the lights and joining wires, you can stick some thin paper (or preferably tracing paper/mylar) to the inside faces of the frame. With the lights off it just looks like a smooth white frame.

Find even more info on my bathroom vanity mirror with lights, and other IKEA-based projects on my blog!