Step-by-Step Guide: Hollywood Vanity Mirror

Ladies, what does your makeup area/getting ready room look like? Does your desk look like it got hit by Hurricane Lip Gloss? What about the lighting in your room - can you clearly see the makeup you're applying? While my makeup room has an ample amount of windows, it has pretty much ZERO overhead lighting.  Because of this, I've always wanted a Hollywood vanity mirror, but WOW are they expensive! I simply could not justify paying at least $300 to turn my makeup space into the backstage area of New York Fashion Week. But cost be darned, I refused to give up! After doing a few Google and Pinterest searches, I ended up piecing together my very own Hollywood vanity mirror with items from Ikea and Home Depot.  The cost for my version?  Under $200 bucks! Check out the step-by-step photo guide below to see how to assemble your very own mirror.  I promise it isn't hard, and your 'getting ready' routine will shine brighter than ever!

Here are all of the items we'll need to build our mirror. Put on your tool belts and let's get started!

Musik Wall Lamps (2) - [Ikea] || Kolja Square Mirror (1) - [Ikea] || Ledare LED Light Bulbs (10) - [Ikea] || Wire Stripper (1) - [Home Depot] || Winged Wire Connectors (4) - [Home Depot] || Electrical Tape (1) - [Home Depot] || Candelabra Base Switch Cord (2) - [Home Depot]

Emily Essentially | Step-by-Step Guide: Hollywood Vanity Mirror | Supplies Needed

Step 1: 

Take a pair of scissors and cut off the black tip from the candelabra base switch cord.  Be careful with this as the cords are somewhat thick. Try to cut as close to the black tip as possible to leave yourself with a sufficient amount of cord. If you feel uncomfortable using scissors, an X-acto knife will work just as well - just be sure to use a surface that is safe for cutting and won't be damaged!

Emily Essentially | Step-by-Step Guide: Hollywood Vanity Mirror | Step 1
Emily Essentially | Step-by-Step Guide: Hollywood Vanity Mirror | Step 2

Step 2:

Once the black end piece is removed, take the X-Acto knife and splice the two bundles of plastic-coated wires.  I cut about an inch and a half down the cord, leaving a decent tail on each end. Try not to split the wire columns any more than two inches to make the remaining steps easier on you.

Step 3:

Next we need to identify the live and neutral wires. This will be very important when you connect these wires to the light fixture.  If you incorrectly connect them your new plug-in fixture won't work, and it can be dangerous!  Identifying the different wires can be tricky, so here are some common identifiers:

  • Live Wires: black coating, copper fibers, smooth along outer side edge
  • Neutral Wires: white coating, silver fibers, ribbed outer edge, often has writing on outer coating

Once you've identified the live and neutral wires, be sure to keep them straight.  If you're worried you might mix them up, mark the neutral wire with a piece of blue painter's tape!

Emily Essentially | Step-by-Step Guide: Hollywood Vanity Mirror | Step 3
Emily Essentially | Step-by-Step Guide: Hollywood Vanity Mirror | Step 4

Step 4:

Still working with the plug-in cord, take your wire strippers and identify the notch that will work to strip the plastic coating from the wire bundles.  Insert the wire with about an inch to an inch and a half of wire sticking through the notch.  Close down on the handles firmly, and pull the wire away from the strippers.  Be sure to pull the cord straight from the stripper so you don't inadvertently remove any wire fibers from within the coating.  Repeat this step for the other end of the plug-in cord, taking care to make the amount of exposed wire somewhat even.

Step 5:

Moving to the Ikea Musik light fixture, remove from the box and flip it over so the back of the light is facing up.  Take note of the circular plate and the wires coming through the back of the fixture.  One wire is black (live) and the other is white (neutral).  There is also a yellow wire, which isn't necessary for the purpose of this setup and should be removed. Feel free to mark the wires accordingly to remind yourself which are live and which are neutral (refer to Step 2).

Emily Essentially | Step-by-Step Guide: Hollywood Vanity Mirror | Step 5
Emily Essentially | Step-by-Step Guide: Hollywood Vanity Mirror | Step 6

Step 6:

The goal for our mirror is to mount it directly into the wall without cutting any notches or holes, so we're going to reroute the wires to sit within the hollow column of the fixture.  This will help the fixture to mount flush against the wall.  As mentioned previously, the yellow wire isn't needed for this application, so I took a screwdriver and detached the washers and yellow wire from the fixture completely.  I also unscrewed the circular mounting plate and pulled the black and white wires through the hole so they are running inside the hollow column of the light.

Step 7:

After rearranging the white and black wires to lay underneath the circular mounting plate, I reattached the plate to the fixture.  This allows the wires to hide nicely within the column of the light.  Also, the mounting plate will be able to rest flush against the wall without any need to cut holes or notches for protruding wires and washers.

Emily Essentially | Step-by-Step Guide: Hollywood Vanity Mirror | Step 7
Emily Essentially | Step-by-Step Guide: Hollywood Vanity Mirror | Step 8

Step 8:

Now comes the time to attach the fixture to the plug-in cord.  Take special care to re-identify the live and neutral wires of each piece.  Take both neutral wires and tightly twist the exposed end wire fibers together. Fold the wires over in half and continue twisting the whole bundle together.  In the left photo, you can notice that both neutral wires have writing on the plastic coating.  Repeat the same step for the live wires, and ensure both connections are secure and twisted very tightly.

Step 9:

Next, place a plastic winged wire connector over each of the combined wire bundles.  Make sure to firmly push each twisted bundle into the very tip of the plastic cap so no exposed wiring is visible.  This step is very important to ensure that all connections are safe and won't cause any issues once installed.  You will be able to feel when the wires have been sufficiently pushed into the plastic connector, and don't worry about being a little forceful - it will ensure the light fixture's connection will work upon completion.

Emily Essentially | Step-by-Step Guide: Hollywood Vanity Mirror | Step 9
Emily Essentially | Step-by-Step Guide: Hollywood Vanity Mirror | Step 10

Step 10:

Once the plastic wire connector caps are in place, take a generous piece of electrical tape and secure the plastic cap to the bundle of wires.  This will ensure that the wire connections stay safely secured in the plastic covering and are tautly connected to one another.  This extra reinforcement will give you reassurance that your DIY project will be safe and not cause any electrical shorts.  Once all pieces have been secured and taped, tuck the wires into the hollow column and direct them out the bottom edge of the fixture.

Step 11:

At this point the electrical work is finished for one of the fixtures.  Before moving to the other and opening light bulb packages, test one of the bulbs to make sure all of your connections are correct.  I was nervous to test my first fixture, but had confidence I had correctly hooked everything up.  I plugged it in, turned the toggle switch and voila!  At this point, you have completed one side of the vanity mirror combo.  All you have to do is repeat steps 1-11 again to convert the other fixture from a hardwired one to the plug-in version, and you will be ready to move on to mounting the pieces together!

Emily Essentially | Step-by-Step Guide: Hollywood Vanity Mirror | Step 11

[REPEAT STEPS 1-11]

Emily Essentially | Step-by-Step Guide: Hollywood Vanity Mirror | Step 12

Step 12:

Once all the electrical work is completed, you now need to survey the location you are planning to mount the lights and mirror.  I placed mine above my desk in the spare bedroom. Be sure to measure appropriately for the function needed. The light fixtures are 24 inches long, and the mirror is a perfect square at 24x24, so I centered the mirror first.  The packaging actually comes with a cardboard inset that allows you to mark the holes where the hanging brackets go in conjunction with the mirror.  I held up the cardboard centered above the desk and marked the spots of the four brackets and put those up.  Once those were in place, I held up each light fixture flush to the mirror measurements and marked the two holes of the circular mounting plate, and drilled small holes for the anchored screws.

Step 13:

Before hanging the mirror, I mounted the lights so that half of the circular plate would be hidden behind the mirror.  I took my time, and screwed in each fixture with anchored screws to support the weight.  I let the cords of each fixture fall free behind the desk, and they rest right at the edge so I can pull each one up and the toggle is right there to turn them on. Both strips plug in to a power strip below the desk, and allow the me to also plug in hair tools while using the lights.  If you are planning to use this as a makeup/hair station, I suggest plugging the lights and your hair appliances into a power strip so you don't blow a surge!  

Emily Essentially | Step-by-Step Guide: Hollywood Vanity Mirror | Step 13
Emily Essentially | Step-by-Step Guide: Hollywood Vanity Mirror | Step 14

Step 14:

Last step - you're almost done!  Once the light fixtures are in place, all that's left is to insert the mirror into the brackets.  With Ikea's ingenious designs, the brackets are spring loaded, and once the top is inserted, you pivot the angle of the mirror upwards and pop the bottom of the mirror into the brackets.  The brackets then adjust and securely hold the mirror in place so that it is held tightly and cannot move - how clever! Take your time with this step and get someone to help if you can.  With your tight measurements, getting the mirror into the brackets between the lights is a tight squeeze.  Once the mirror is in place, you're all set - just turn on the lights and you've got a beautiful, custom-made lighted vanity mirror!

Emily Essentially | Step-by-Step Guide: Hollywood Vanity Mirror | Final Product

I hope this DIY tutorial helps you fashionistas out there who want to create a great lighted mirror for a fraction of the cost.  The dimensions are great to put over a desk or dresser, and the amount of lighting you receive from the ten bulbs in incredible!  I could do my makeup and hair at 3 am in the pitch dark with no other lights on, and I'd be able to see everything really well!  Don't be afraid to try some DIY projects from time to time - you can really save yourself a lot of money, and the sense of accomplishment you'll feel after completing something like this is such a rush!  I love how custom this piece appears to be, and it looks very chic and girly.  If you're nervous about any of the mounting or electrical work, don't be afraid to ask for some help - and if you have any questions for me, just leave a comment below!

Emily Essentially