Dear James: The dressing area in my master bedroom is not so bright as I would like. I thought about hanging a mirror somewhere, perhaps on the closet door. Will this really help my problem much? -- Mary T
Dear Mary: Using mirrors is an excellent and effective method to brighten up any room. An added benefit is your room will also look much larger than it actually is. This can be a real plus in a relatively small and dark dressing area.
The actual amount of increased brightness will depend on both where the existing source of light is located and the wall covering. If you are lucky and the light source is located properly, it may reflect off the mirror exactly to the spot where you need it. If your dressing room has dark patterned wallpaper, which now absorbs light, the improvement will be even greater.
Just a note about locating the mirror. Many people think that since a mirror reflects light, it will also reflect heat. Since you may often be just partially dressed and perhaps chilly in a dressing room, you may think about hanging the mirror directly across where you stand to reflect your body heat. Glass mirrors don't not reflect heat, so it will not help this.
Using the closet door for the mirrored surface is an excellent idea. The outside of a closet door is generally not used for anything else, so you will not be losing any usable wall space. Closet doors are often located in the center of a dressing room wall, so the mirror will provide more even light distribution.
You have two options for hanging a mirror on the closet door: adding a mirror or installing a mirror door kit. Long mirrors can be purchased at home center stores or can be custom-made. Hanging a standard mirror can have that "add-on" appearance. Custom-made ones with fancy beveled edges and professionally installed look great, but they are expensive.
A better option is switching out the old door for a mirrored door kit. These are often available as sliding doors where each side bypasses the other or hinged bi-fold doors. The hinged bi-fold ones are particularly functional because you can partially open a door. This changes the angle of the mirror so the light can be directed to exactly where you need it at that time.
Depending on the decor of your bedroom, you can choose among several general designs of mirrored door kits. Some of the most attractive ones have real wood edge moldings or solid hardwood surrounds in cherry and oak. More contemporary ones are frameless with the mirror covering the entire door.
The less expensive ones have a thin metal frame around the mirror. Prices range from about $75 to more than $500 for a large, wood-trimmed door. If you need a custom-size door, the additional cost is about $75.
It is not difficult to install a mirror door kit yourself, but it can be heavy, so you may need a helper. If you are not a handy do-it-yourselfer, the bypass sliding doors are easier to install. You just have to installing the upper track to the top of closet opening and the lower track on the floor. It operates very similar to a sliding shower door. Installing the hinged bi-fold doors requires a little more careful alignment.
James Dulley's weekly column, "Here's How," can be found at creators.com.