5 Expert Tips To Choose A Medicine Cabinet

Medicine cabinets are a great way to combine style and function. You can store a wide variety of bottles and personal care items right behind a mirror, making them great for small bathrooms and well-organized spaces alike. Read on to learn how to choose the best medicine cabinet for your space based on the mount type, frame, size and lighting source.

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1. Which Mount Type is the Best in Medicine Cabinets?

How the medicine cabinet is mounted is the first point to consider. 

Medicine cabinets typically allow you to mount the cabinet directly on the wall (surface mount) or inside the wall (recessed mount). Some cabinets are advertised to handle both installation methods. 

Choose a recessed mount version for a sleeker and smoother look that works especially well in modern bathrooms. A surface mount style looks natural in any bathroom, it's easier to install and will be your choice if you are looking for a cabinet with a decorative frame, as the choice is much bigger with this type. With a recessed model, you need to set the cabinet into the wall itself, requiring you to cut a hole into the wall.

2. How to Choose a Frame and Finish in Medicine Cabinets?

Next, you should try to decide what type of frame and finish you want. Below are the main types you'll find on the market and in which styles they work best.

  • Mirrored: These are sleek cabinets that have a mirror on the face of them without a frame. These are great in sleek, minimalistic and modern styles since they give an austere and purely functional look.

  • Set-in frame: Sometimes the cabinet may have a frame etched into the mirror itself. Again, this looks good in the similar modern spaces described above, since it's still a minimalistic style and the outline of the frame gives stark rectangular geometry.

  • Aluminum: Aluminum is popular in medicine cabinets because it's light to hang and rust resistant. A metal medicine cabinet can look great in transitional, modern, industrial or even casual spaces.

  • Wood frame: These have a wooden frame that outlines a mirror. The wood may be painted, or its natural texture could show through. Choose painted woods for transitional or casual bathrooms. Textured wood can be good for bathrooms that make use of natural styles, country bathrooms or rustic spaces. 

  • Plastic: If you want a cabinet that is less expensive and can fit in with more casual bathroom spaces, look into a plastic model.

  • Stainless steel: Another popular metal is stainless steel because of its resistance to corrosion. The shine makes these cabinets great for modern or brightly colored bathrooms.

  • Classic: This type of medicine cabinet is all wood with no mirror included. If you already have a large mirror in your bathroom, and you just need a space to store toiletries, look into this style. It works in classic, casual or rustic spaces.

White Wood Framed Medicine Cabinet
Medicine Cabinet with Adjustable Shelves and LED Lighting
Silver Decorative Framed Medicine Cabinet
Classic Mirrored Medicine Cabinet with Wood Frame
Mirrored Frameless Medicine Cabinet
Decorative White Medicine Cabinet

3. Which Sizes are Best in Medicine Cabinets?

Most medicine cabinets are usually made to fit over one sink and, hence, it's common to see them somewhere around 20 inches wide by 24 inches high. Medicine cabinets that are surface mounted may stick out around 6 inches.

Some cabinets are designed to span a wide counter area. These might be around 50 inches long by 26 inches high. Smaller long cabinets might be 40 inches long by 26 inches high. There are also boxier styles that measure 23.75 inches by 26 inches. On top of those options, you also have oval designs that may measure 25 inches by 32 inches.

To figure out which size works best for your space, start by measuring the stretch of the wall where you want to place the cabinet. That will tell you what kind of room you have to work with. From there, the shape is a matter of personal preference. The right design will jump out at you.

Large Medicine Cabinet with 6 Shelves and Lighting
Standard Mirrored 2 Door Medicine Cabinet
Small Wooden Medicine Cabinet
Large Medicine Cabinet with Shelves
Large Mirrored Frameless Medicine Cabinet
Medium 3 Door Medicine Cabinet

4. What Type of Lighting is Best in Medicine Cabinets?

You also have some interesting options when it comes to lighting. Most medicine cabinets have no lighting attached. However, the ones that do, come in the following styles.

  • Set-in LEDs: Many modern styles of cabinets have light that shines out from the mirror itself. These are great for the most modern of spaces. Certain styles have colored lights for extra style.

  • Bulb lighting: Some medicine cabinets have bulbs set into the top of the cabinet, which can give extra lighting that's especially useful if you apply make-up. The bulbs also give a classic style that works in retro bathrooms.

  • Bar LED lighting: You can also find styles that have LED lighting set into a bar that extends from the top of the cabinet and shines downward towards a mirror. This is also a good option if you require extra lighting. 

  • Interior lighting: Some models even have a strip of lighting inside the cabinet to help you see what's where better. Choose these if you have otherwise low lighting in your bathroom.

Medium Medicine Cabinet with Bulb Lighting
Frameless Medicine Cabinet with LED Lighting
Medicine Cabinet with Standard Lighting
Single Medicine Cabinet with LED Lighting
Large Medicine Cabinet with Bulb Lighting
Modern 1 Door Medicine Cabinet with LED Lighting

5. What Additional Features Should I Look for in Medicine Cabinets?

It feels like everything is set up to be smart or digital now. Medicine cabinets are no exception.  They come with a wide array of modern conveniences that include:

  • Defogger: If you tend to take very hot showers, a mirror defogging feature could be a must.

  • Dimmer: Being able to adjust the lighting is especially useful if multiple people are using the mirror and like different brightness levels.

  • Chargers: Some modern medicine cabinets have USB chargers that help you charge things like your phone or shaver. These are good for bathrooms with fewer outlet options.

  • Adjustable shelves: While not a high-tech feature, many models allow you to adjust the shelves in some way. If customized organization is a priority, choose this feature.

Jessica started out as an interior photographer, but her love of pretty settings took her to the field of interior design, where she can combine two of her greatest passions, creating and then capturing the beauty of homes.