Introduction: VANITY MIRROR WITH DESK & LIGHTS

THE VANITY MIRROR!

Reason for making this? My wife has been wanting one and (so it fits in our room) it needs to be custom built. Therefore, it was time to put my DIY skills to the test & build her one! I, also, wanted to share my experience with all of you, just to show you that with patience and dedication, something that seems hard to do is actually easy. This job took me about 5 hours but that's because I had to head out a couple of times because of missing stuff and etc.

So lets get right to it!

Step 1: MAIN COMPONENTS

The vanity mirror consist of:

  • A glossy looking desk (gives that extravagant look)
  • A mirror
  • And finally bars of light that go around the mirror itself.

I was thinking about building the desk but my lack of interest took the better of me. Therefore, buying the desk directly from IKEA (and because my wife was set on a specific one) was the best choice. The desk was a little expensive than I was hoping for but if you want one that looks good with the vanity mirror you need to dish out some cash.

DESK:

  • PRICE = 170$+tx
  • MAKE = MALM
  • ARTICLE # = 102.036.10.
  • COLOR = black or white.

The rest of the stuff I got the from LOWES and HOME DEPOT, depending which one had better prices or available porducts.

MIRROR:

  • STORE = LOWES
  • TYPE = frameless
  • DIMENSIONS = 24" x 30", thickness = 1/8" (depends on you but this is standard) ( " = inches & ' = feet)
  • PRICE = 16$+tx
  • QUANTITY = 1

VANITY BAR:

  • STORE = LOWES
  • TYPE = Project Source 5-Light Chrome Standard Bathroom Vanity Light Bar
  • DIMENSIONS = 5 light bulbs, which comes out to about (5 x 6" per bulb) 30" long and the width (depending which one you buy) is 4.5".
  • PRICE = 25$+tx
  • QUANTITY = 3
  • We decided to go with the 5 light bulbs because it was the perfect length that was small enough for the desk and big enough to look just right! Hence, the length depends on your taste or desk size whichever suits your needs

EXTRA BLING:

  • You will notice in the very first picture that there are 3 diamond (fake ones :-P) knobs on the desk. I bought these separately to add to the extravagant look!
  • LOWES
  • 4.50$ each
  • QTY: 3

And that is it for the main components for a vanity mirror! Proceed to the next step and take a look at what more is needed.


NOTE: you will notice in the picture that the vanity bars do not finish flush with the mirror. That's because the mirrors at LOWES come at a standard size and, therefore, the setup that you see is the best way to go about it. The desk will hide the extra length, so, you won't see it. YES, it annoys me that the desk is not touching the wall. YES, I am too lazy to go find a place that cuts mirrors to a certain length. YES, it still looks great! YES, you will lose 2 light bulbs because the bulbs are too close to the desk.YES my wife is in LOVE WITH IT!!

***As a precaution, I am not a certified electrician, I have done stuff like this before so I know what I am doing. If you are unsure of the connections please contact me or an electrician for advice before plugging in your vanity.

Lets move on! :-D

Step 2: ELECTRICAL COMPONENTS

The right tool for the job, gets the job done quicker and easier!

If you are a new home owner like me, you have zero tools. Therefore, I had to buy all of my tools.

  • The metal cutter is used to cut away (make a small opening) of the vanity bar so that the wires can be daisy chained (when connecting multiple devices together in series) together without seeing the wires. This will make little opening quick and easy!
  • The wire cutter is used to cut wires and remove the outer layer of the wire (the insulation which protects people from getting shocked or cause fires)
  • The pliers will be used to bend the little opening (made by cutters) inwards and allow wire to pass through.
  • Electrical tape to insulate any exposed wire
  • Measuring tape because you want a clean straight looking assembly on your wall.
  • Stud finder to search for studs behind the wall
  • Leveler to make sure that you are assembling stuff straight enough

Next the extra electrical components that you must buy

  • Unless you don't care about bending over and plugging into the wall outlet each time you want to use your vanity, I suggest you get a "WALL MOUNTED SWITCH" where you can attach it, somewhere that is easy accessible and hidden in plain sight! You can leave the power plugged in and use the switch to light up your vanity. Exactly like a light switch.
    • LOWES
    • Approx. 10$
  • "HIDDEN MIRROR HOLDERS", used to hold your mirror in place once mounted onto the wall
    • LOWES
    • Approx. 7$
  • "EXTRA COUNTERSINK WOOD SCREWS" were bought just in case I needed some.
    • LOWES
    • Approx. 2$
  • "TERMINAL WIRE CONNECTORS" are used to connect 2 wires together but I realized later on that these were NOT suited for the job because we will need to connect 3 wires at a time. Therefore, do not buy these.
  • "EXTRA TWIST ON WIRE CONNECTORS" were bought in case I needed some more. NOTE: when buying the vanity bars, the twist ons come packaged with the box, but I still recommend getting more because you will need extra! Get size 18 AWG
    • LOWES
    • Approx. 5$
  • "EXTENSION CORD" we need this just for the purpose of having the component that plugs directly into the wall outlet. Make sure it is 3 wire because it is standard and better than just 2 wire. 3 wire simply means that there are 3 wires in 1 cable. In the image you will notice that there are 3 grooves stuck together.
    • LOWES
    • Approx. 3$
  • "CABLE ORGANIZER" this is optional depending how OCD you are about keeping things nice, clean and organized.
    • WALMART
    • Approx. 5$
  • "EXTRA WIRES" is used to help "daisy chain" the other vanity bars. Once again, make sure that it carries 3 wires.
    • LOWES
    • Approx. 10$

BUDGET for vanity mirror (without DESK and TOOLS) rounds up to : 140$ CAD (NOTE you could probably get less for it depending where to buy).

And that is it! Let get started!

Step 3: GETTING STARTED

  1. Lets first open up the vanity bars. If you got the same as mine (I believe all of them are standard) you can pull off the light bulb base frames (not sure what they're called). Once those are twisted off you can finally remove the cover and look inside.
  2. Inside you will notice 5 light bulb bases along with black and white wires. These light bulb bases are "daisy chained" together. The "last bulb" will have. As shown in the first picture my last bulb is in the center which has to wires that are ready to be directly connected to the other vanity bars.
  1. Cut extension cord as shown in the image
    • CAUTION! DO NOT PLUG EXTENSION CORD WHILE CUTTING IT!
  2. Split the cut end of the extension cord into 3 and separate the individual wires.
  3. After splitting them I noticed that one of them had a green coating, which means it is the ground wire.
  4. The next wire was white, this is the neutral wire, which connects to the white wire connected to the light bulb base inside the vanity bar (mentioned before).
  5. The 3rd wire is bare copper (unfortunately, no picture), This represents the "hot wire", which is the wire that provides electricity to the lights or switch.
  6. Once the wires have been spread apart, its time to remove the insulation and expose the copper. Take the stripper tool (2nd picture) and remove about 1/2" to 3/4" length of insulation (see last picture).
NOTE: If some of the copper is exposed (anywhere but the 1/2"-3/4" part that you were suppose to remove insulation) I suggest you take your electrical tape and cover that exposed area by wrapping it. This is to avoid any short circuiting, which can cause problems.

Next before I start anything I like to test the vanity bar to make sure what I am doing is right and that it works! This is to make sure that I wouldn't do all that work with holes in my wall.

Step 4: Pass That Bar Test

At this point YOU HAVE TO MAKE SURE THAT YOU ARE CONNECTING THE WIRES CORRECTLY!!!

what you need:

  • The light switch component
  • One of the vanity bars
  • Your modified extension cord

As the picture displays it:

  • The black wire (the wire that is not white or green) from the modified extension cord will be connected to the side where the switch is pointing down (for myself that is the off position, you should see the word "off" exposed on the switch itself. This is the power to your lights and right now it is in the off position, therefore the power will not go to the lights until you flip that switch to the "on" position.
  • Next you will attach the black wire from the vanity bar to the other screw (usually above the hot wire) of the light switch. This means once the light switch is flipped upwards ("on" position) the power will flow to the other black wire (the vanity black wire) and light up the bulbs that are connect to the vanity bar.
  • Then you need to connect the white wire from the extension cord to the white wire from the vanity bar. This provides a closed circuit and the electricity is ready to flow to power up your light bulbs. Add a twist on wire connector (the orange cone you see in the picture) to protect yourself from shocks and to make sure the wires do not come apart.
  • The remaining wire from your extension cord (in my case the green one) will be connected to the ground screw of the light switch (this screw should be painted green to show that it is the ground).

With all the wires connected and PROPERLY secured in the screw it is time to plug your extension cord to the power outlet.

WHAT TO EXPECT BEFORE CONNECTING TO POWER:

  1. The switch is off and, therefore, the connected lights should NOT light up
  2. Once the switch is flipped to the ON position the light bulb should light up!
  3. IF THE LIGHT BULB DOES NOT LIGHT UP THEN YOU CONNECTED THE WIRES WRONG AND UNPLUG IMMEDIATELY!

If you really do not feel comfortable about this step then I suggest you ask someone to help you out. Or send me pics of your setup and I will try to help you out.

See my video of it working! I hope this worked out for you too! Keep my steps in mind when we decide to do all 3 vanity bars!

If successful test passed!

If not, try again until you get it right! ;-)

Step 5: Take the Measurements and Mount That Mirror!

So now you have a working connection, happy with the test, it is time to jump to the actual work!

LETS MOUNT THAT MIRROR!

Getting started:

  1. First we need to measure the width of the wall (We need to center the mirror onto the wall)
  2. Measure the length of the mirror, mine is approx. 30" long.
  3. Measure the height where you would like the base of your mirror to start.
  4. Don't forget to mark your measured locations onto the wall (you will not see any of these markings, since these will either be covered or have something drilled into it).
  5. Screw in the mirror holders and mount your mirror.

My situation:

  • My wall is 51 7/8" wide
  • My mirror is 29 7/8" long

Therefore, 51.875" - 29.875" = 22" / 2 = 11" of space on each side of the mirror. I then added 1" on each side, which will be the location of my mirror holders (11" + 1" = 12").

I then placed the table to the wall to eyeball the height that I imagine is flush enough to the table. I marked my intersection and drilled my holes.

NOTE: I drilled the hole into my wall because at that exact location there wasn't any studs. If you are lucky enough to land on a stud, then just go ahead and screw it in. But if your not so lucky, then you will need to drill a hole a little smaller than the plastic inserts that you will be pushing into the drilled holes. These inserts are used to fortify the screws when screwing them into the wall. See pictures (the inserts are white)

I then placed my mirror onto the holders and placed the 2 other holders on the top side of the mirror. Again, I just eyeballed this and had some help from my wife to mark the other 2 holders.

Once I had all my holders in place, I slid my mirror into place and made sure the mirror had 11" of spacing on each side (as calculated before).

You now have a mounted mirror and centered in the middle of the wall.

Time to mount the vanity bars around it!!


NOTE: Before moving on to the next step, make sure that electrical setup you made in the previous step has been disconnected. Untie the wires and get ready to start mounting the vanity's bar base onto the wall.

Step 6: Prepare Extra Wiring for Daisy Chaining the Vanity Bars

Before we begin, make sure no wires are twisted together.

Lay down your vanity bars in the design that you wanted. If you really need the mirror for this step, then just slide your mirror out and lay it down on the floor and do your setup around it.

Remove the covers of the bars to expose the wires and light bulb bases (in my case I need to remove 3 covers).

Next we need to lay out the extra wires to figure out the needed length to wire the bars to each other (see pictures, hover your mouse over it and it will explain a little more).

Once you have the correct lengths that you believe are good, strip the ends and put them aside.


NOTE: You do not have to do this part now, but I like being proactive and get it done ahead of time.

The last picture shows you where I will cut away the metal to allow my cable to pass between vanity bars.

Next it is time to mount the vanity bars around the mirror!

Step 7: Mount Vanity Bars Onto the Wall

** I didn't take detailed pictures for mounting the vanity bars (got caught up in the moment). So, I will try to explain this step as detailed as possible.

So, in short, (hoping you have a helping hand) I placed the vanity bars around my mounted mirror and then traced out the screw mounting holes (image 2 of this step) onto my wall. From there I made a cross-hair on where i would need to place my screw. This is sort of shown in image 1 of this step.

STEPS:

  1. Place vanity bars around mirror.
  2. Remove cover (depending which type you bought, the cover is the chrome surface & there is a copper wire attached to that under surface. Although, it seems easier if you cut it; I didn't because I thought it might be used for grounding purposes. I used that wire to wire with the green/ground wire from the extra wiring as mentioned in earlier steps.)
  3. While maintaining the placed vanity bar with your hand, use your other hand to trace out the screw mounting holes (You can see why you might need a helping hand). Mine were shaped like image 2 of this step.
  4. NOTE***: Make sure that you place your bars in the correct orientation!!! As shown in IMAGE 2
  5. Once you did all of them and are confident that the bars are in the correct position, then proceed to start drilling hole for the plastic screw inserts. These were seen in earlier steps when we didn't have a stud behind the wall. REMEMBER! Make the hole slightly smaller than the inserts to that you get a nice tight/snug fit when pushing these insert into the wall. See image 3 of what it should look like....
  6. Place your screws into the inserts and screw until you have a good amount of space between the insert and the cap part of your screw. You will need this gap because you will want the base of the bar to hang into place.
  7. Once the bars are hanging and you're satisfied how all 3 bars are aligned, tighten those screws until the bars are rigid and stable.
  8. Take your extra wires that you pre-cut in the earlier steps and start meshing the correct colors to them. If you didn't pre-cut them, that is fine, this is a perfect time to do it. NOTE: make sure you leave slack (extra wire length) before cutting. I had to redo mine twice because my length was to strict.
  9. Image 3 shows you have you should wire the wires between each vanity bar.
    • White to white
    • black to black
    • green to green (green to bare copper wire,in my case)
  10. As you move to the middle bar and the last one, you will notice that you have to mesh 3 wires instead of 2 (like the first one) This is normal since you're daisy chaining multiple bar. Just make sure the wires are well twisted together and they have enough slack.
  11. The last bar will need extra wiring to make its way down to the "light switch" or plug (depending how you are going to power your vanity). So, what I did, to be really on the safe side, I took the rest of my roll, mesh it with the final wires on the last vanity bar and then let it hang to the floor (no cutting involved until I decide later what length I really need).
  12. Now we need to cut small openings on the sides of vanity bar covers. This is to pass the extra wires from 1 bar to another. See image 6,7,8 & 9.
  13. Image 1 shows you my opening about or at least 2" wide and bent it inwards.

That is it for this part!

Next step we will wire the switch to the dangling wire, surface mount our switch box, plug it into the wall receptacle and see your hard work pay off!!! :-D

Step 8: The Switch

Here we will surface mount a light switch,connect the remaining wires and light everything up!

You'll remember from the previous steps that I mentioned that the desk will hide part of the vanity bar, which is a good thing (for keeping things flush), but you do lose 2 light bulbs (1 on each side). This is shown in the last image in this step.

  1. Place your desk against the vanity
  2. Decide where you think is the best place to put your switch (I put it underneath the desk, because it's an eye sore to look at and it takes away from the whole luxury look)
  3. trace the holes where you want to mount the switch (just like you did with the other steps). I would try to find a stud because it is easier to mount. Up to you.
  4. Screw in the top screw into the base of switch as shown in picture 1
  5. Use a level to make sure that base is straight (you don't have to, I just like having everything straight). See picture 2.
  6. Take your extra wire (The wire you had extra to the floor) and cut it to the required length (up to the switch plus 2"). You can add more length but for me 2" extra was good enough.
  7. Following the image from step 4 (the one with the light switch) you will take the power (bare copper or black, depending on what you bought) from your extension cord and attach it to the bottom right screw. This side is the off position of the light switch.
  8. Attach the black wire (from your extra wire that you just cut off) to the top right screw of the switch. When the switch is flipped to the on position the power from the power cord will be transferred to the daisy chained vanities.
  9. The neutral (white, from extra wire and extension cord, DON'T FORGET THE PLASTIC CONES) will need to be twisted together to close the loop.
  10. Finally, attach the green wire (from the extension cord) to the bottom left screw of the switch, which is usually colored green.
  11. MAKE SURE THAT THE WIRE IS WELL PLACED WHEN SCREWING TO THE SWITCH, KEEP IT AS NEAT AS POSSIBLE AND DON'T OVER TIGHTEN!
  12. Attach the switch to the surface cover (picture 3)
  13. With a pair of pliers, you will notice that you can remove channels on the side of the cover (see picture 4). This is used to pass your extension cord through.
  14. Once all the wires are well connected and the cover CLIPPED (you will probably need a little bit of force to push the cover onto the base) onto the base, it is time to test your final product.
  15. Screw in 1 light bulb onto each vanity bar (for testing)
  16. Plug your extension cord in and flip the switch! SEE picture 5

IF YOU DO NOT SEE YOUR LIGHT BULBS GO ON THEN CLOSE THE SWITCH AND UNPLUG IMMEDIATELY!!! GO BACK TO THE OTHER STEPS AND MAKE SURE YOU FOLLOWED THEM CORRECTLY!


Lights went on? GREAT JOB! Close the switch and screw in the remaining light bulbs.

Turn the light switch back on (once all the light bulbs are screwed in).

***At this step I did a smell test. I left the light bulbs run for 5 minutes and see if I smell anything burning. IF YOU SMELL SOMETHING BURNING THEN CLOSE THE SWITCH AND UNPLUG THE EXTENSION CORD. MAKE SURE THAT YOUR CONNECTIONS ARE WELL TWISTED TOGETHER AND THAT THE DIFFERENT COLORED WIRES ARE NOT TOUCHING EACH OTHER. WRAP WITH ELECTRICAL TAPE IF NEEDED. I doubt that this will happen but I like being on the safe side!


If no burning smell then you are all set and you're ready to finalize you work by putting all the vanity bar covers back on, the place holders and finally place your desk and impress your self/wife!

As an extra, I bought wire organizers that are see through and stick to the wall. Slide your extension cord into them and place them onto the wall. Having wires on the floor, loose can be ugly to see and annoying if your feet keep getting tangle in it.

I hope this project was a success and hope you enjoyed it! Email me if ever you run into a problem and I will help you out!

Comments

author
ErinM150 made it! (author)2017-05-28

Thank you sooo much for you step by step instructions! It made this project SUPER doable! Only thing I changed was wiring the extension cord directly to the lights & plugging it into a wireless switch that hids under the vanity! Its perfect for my esthitician in school!

20170526_141154.jpg
author
ErinM150 (author)ErinM1502017-05-28

*note to self next time... make sure lights are flush with the top of the vanity even if it losses some mirror!

author
tomatoskins (author)2016-12-12

That turned out looking great! Thanks for sharing your great looking desk!

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