/ / How to Setup Your Vanity: An Ancient Tool for Success

How to Setup Your Vanity: An Ancient Tool for Success

I’m not exaggerating when I say setting up your own vanity area is a great way to prepare yourself for a successful life. It is a personal space just for you, a place where you can get to know yourself, relax, meditate, and focus on yourself for some time each day. It makes getting glamorous more glamorous. Not to mention, it is a great way to add some personality to your living space.

A Brief History of Vanities

However, vanity setups you would recognise  today became popular from the late 1700s.  Madame de Pompadour, a style-setter for the period, is credited with commissioning tables with a flat desk, a mirror and storage space.  

Madame De Pompadour at her boudoir
Mme de Pompadour at her vanity

The basic style has not changed much since. Many of the modern dressing tables closely resemble the designs seen in paintings from hundreds of years ago. 

Do You Really Need a Vanity?

Many girls dream of having a gorgeous vanity when they grow up. Well, you are all grown up now, and it’s worth remembering that dream (although you should perhaps cut back on the pink and diamanté). When you see a great vanity in a friend’s house it shows you that they take their appearance seriously. A well thought-out makeup vanity setup is more than just a piece of history or nostalgia, though. 

Boosts Self-Esteem

Having this space helps to build your confidence in yourself. It helps you to feel good about the way you present yourself to the rest of the world. When you feel good about the way you look, you carry yourself differently. 

It also makes you feel like you have your act together. Think of the women you know who have a vanity. Most of them are successful, attractive, and confident. Spending time every day on your appearance helps you to put things into perspective and present yourself to the world in the way you want others to see you. 

Makes Your Morning Less Hectic

Mornings are hectic for a lot of people. However, you can make your morning routine more manageable by having everything you need in one place. There is also something relaxing about sitting down at an attractive table on a comfortable chair while getting ready. It beats standing up, leaning into the foggy bathroom mirror. 

Gives You a Space of Your Own 

If you live in a house with other people, you likely share most of your space. Having a personal space is good for your mood and mental well-being. Everyone needs a place they can get away for a few minutes to think. Your vanity table is the perfect place to reflect, literally and figuratively. 

It is Multifunctional

If your space is limited, your vanity can be a great asset, as, like Mme de Pompadour, it can double as a writing desk. You can also use it to feature important items, inspire you, or give you a sense of well-being. 

It Helps You to Make Self-Care a Priority

When you do not have a designated space to care for yourself, doing your beauty routine might seem like more of a chore. With a vanity, you can relax while you care for your skin, maintain eyebrows, apply makeup, style your hair, and accessorize your outfits.  

Pros and Cons of Creating a Vanity

With so many positive reasons to invest in your makeup vanity setup, you are probably wondering if there is a downside. So, here are some pros and cons to creating a vanity: 

Boosts your self-imageTakes space
Saves time in the morningRequires thoughtful setup 
Helps you stay organizedRequires an initial investment
Gives you a place to reflectYou have to dust and clean it regularly
Adds personality to your spaceIt takes time to get it right
Offers a multifunctional spaceChildren might mess with your things

Haves and Have-Nots in Your Vanity

The essence of a vanity is in having everything you need at your fingertips, but only the things you need. You do not want to pack it full of unnecessary items. This space should be clean, composed, and peaceful. 

Setting it up correctly will ensure you do not have to run around searching for the items you need to look your best. Below is a list of things you should gather for your vanity: 

  • Tweezers
  • Scissors
  • Makeup
  • Makeup brushes
  • Skincare products
  • Brush
  • Blow dryer
  • Straightener
  • Q-tips
  • Cotton balls
  • Face wipes
  • Hair ties
  • Bobby pins
  • A sewing kit
  • Nail polish
  • A file
  • Nail clippers
  • Perfume
  • A jewelry box or tray
  • Mirrors (lots of them)

Things You Should Avoid

It is just as essential to keep certain things out of your dressing area. You do not want to overcrowd this space. If you are searching for things you need to get ready in the morning because your vanity is a mess, it defeats the purpose of creating this space.

Additionally, your vanity is very personal. You do not want your family to rummage through it to find items they need. Here are some things you should keep out of this space: 

  • Bills
  • Mail
  • Food
  • Products you never use
  • Your significant other’s products

Make It Comfortable

A vanity is supposed to make getting dressed more enjoyable. You should be comfortable when you spend time there. The components that make up your vanity need to work well together; you should make sure that your vanity stool and desk are at the correct height. 

If you choose to make your vanity out of a piece of furniture that you already have, make sure it is not too deep. Otherwise, you will be too far from the mirror. If you are purchasing a piece, make sure that you try it before you buy it. 

You should be able to sit up straight while doing your makeup. If you have to hunch over or lean into the mirror, it will cause back pain and posture issues. Proper posture helps to improve your self-image and health. So, make sure your space is set up to promote proper alignment while still being comfortable. 

Make Sure It Has Plenty of Storage

Storage is crucial for a successful makeup vanity setup. You want everything you use to fit neatly in the drawers. A variety of drawer sizes will help you to keep everything organized. Ideally, you should have shallow drawers at the top where you can keep smaller makeup products and larger drawers at the bottom to keep blow drawers, brushes, curlers, and other tools. 

Using a dressing table with larger drawers allows you to use drawer organizers to keep everything in a designated place. The easier it is to maintain the cleanliness of this space, the better. 

Mirror, Mirror On the Wall (This is the Most Important Part of All)

You need a great mirror at your dressing table. Without it, you will find yourself running to the bathroom to see yourself in the mirror, which defeats the purpose. So, pick a mirror you love. You also want to make sure the mirror is big enough to see at least your entire face. Read my article – everything you ever wanted to know about choosing and using makeup mirrors.

You might also want to add a few smaller magnifying mirrors for doing your eyebrows and other tasks, and a handheld for your hair. (Check out my guide to the best handheld mirrors here). A quality magnification mirror can make a massive difference in the results you achieve when doing precise beauty tasks. 

The mirror you choose should be easy to clean, as well. It is vital to view a crystal clear reflection of yourself. The placement of your mirrors can help to designate the space. Furthermore, a larger mirror gives you room to post pictures, reminders, and inspirational items. 

Light It Up 

Lighting is essential. If you have ever put on your makeup indoors only to walk outside and realize it looks different in the sunlight, you understand the importance of lighting. There are many types of lighting you can use, and some will give you better results than others. 

Hollywood mirror lighting

Lighting Features to Consider

There are some aspects of vanity lighting you may not have considered. The type of bulbs you use will make a huge difference in the results you get in vanity. Not to mention they can affect your comfort and changing out lights if you purchase the wrong bulbs can get expensive. 


The higher the wattage bulbs you use, the hotter they will be. Anyone who wears makeup knows that cosmetics and heat do not mix, so it is best to use lower watt bulbs that stay cooler . Not to mention, it is incredibly uncomfortable to spend extended periods in front of hot lights. 


It might seem like super bright light would be the best option when you are applying makeup. However, that is not always the case. If the lights are too bright, it will be challenging to look into the mirror. You are going to be looking directly toward the lights, so you want to make sure that they are comfortable for your eyes. 


The hue you use will make a big difference in the way you see yourself. Brighter shades are better for tasks that require you to see details. However, they are not the best for applying your makeup because they can be difficult on your eyes. So, it is best to use a color that is as close to natural light as possible. 

Using a Mirror with Lighting

Many people use a mirror with built-in lighting for makeup application. This can be a great option. But do remember, that while the use of many bulbs gives ample lighting for primping, it does get hot. So, if you use a mirror with built-in lighting or if your vanity has built-in lights, you will want to use low watt bulbs. 

And here’s my review of the single best lighted makeup mirror.

Utilizing Natural Sunlight

Believe it or not, natural sunlight is the best option for putting on your makeup. If you can position your vanity station next to a window, you will get the most natural results. You also know that you will look as good as you did in your mirror when you walk outside. 

Lighting with Lamps

Lamps can provide you with additional lighting if you need more light for doing specific tasks. However, lamps do not provide even light. When you are doing your makeup, you want the light to hit every part of your face evenly. 

Vanity Lighting Fixtures

There are tons of vanity lighting fixtures you can purchase for your space. These fixtures allow you to choose what bulbs you want to use and place them where you want. However, this is a permanent option. Once you have them installed, they are a pain to move. So, if you are going to go this route, make sure you are happy with your vanity setup before installing them. 

Vanity Light Kits 

Vanity lighting kits are an option for people who do not want to spend a ton of money on a lighted mirror or installing permanent vanity lighting fixtures. These kits typically feature LED bulbs with a cord and suction cups to stick them on any mirror. The kit lighting is specifically for makeup stations, so it gives decent lighting, and the LED bulbs keep your space relatively cool. However, these are not the most visually appealing option. 

Follow the Principles of Feng Shui

Feng Shui helps things have a better flow. So, it is always helpful when you are creating a space where you will spend a lot of time to follow the principles. Here are some DIY Feng Shui makeup vanity ideas to get you started. 

Figure Out What Elements You Want to Incorporate

The feeling you get when you sit at your vanity will differ depending on what elements you include in the space. Here are some of the key benefits you get from the different elements:

  • Fire – Confidence and self-esteem
  • Water – Inspiration and insightfulness 
  • Metal – Focus, and organization
  • Earth – Stability, and balance
  • Wood – Strength and intuition
There are many Feng Shui rules for mirrors

It is essential to balance the elements because including too much of one element will make the space feel uncomfortable. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different parts until your space speaks to you. You will know when it is right because you will want to spend more time there. 

Be Selective About What Goes On Top

Carefully choosing what you place on your vanity counter and how you arrange it has a significant impact on your space’s feeling and utility. So, reserve this area for essential items and things you like to look at (and you do not mind other people seeing). 

Always Keep Your Vanity Top and Mirror Clean

Keeping your vanity clean is always important. It will make you feel better about yourself. After all, a vanity dressing table is very personal, and it is a reflection of you. So, you always want it to be orderly. You should also make sure you always keep your mirrors clean. Looking at yourself in a dirty mirror can distort your self-image. 

Add Some Inspiration

Seeing things that motivate you first thing in the morning is a great way to start your day. Your dressing table is the perfect place to inspire yourself since you will be getting ready there each morning. You do not want to clutter the space, but add some things that speak to your soul. Below are some ideas for inspirational items you can include in your space: 

  • Photos of places you want to travel
  • Inspirational quotes
  • A list of things for which you are thankful
  • Things to look forward to
  • Photos of loved ones
Use your vanity space for personal inspiration

If your vanity top space is limited, consider adding a shelf or cabinet beside it for placing personal items. You can also add a corkboard or pictures on the wall next to your mirror. 

Make Some “Me” Space

Ideally, you want your vanity to have a specific space. If you do not have a corner nook or a designated vanity area in your home, you can set one up pretty much anywhere, but you will want to add some elements to give it some separation. If you decide to create your dressing area in your bedroom, make sure that it is close to your closet and bathroom, if possible. That will make it easier to get ready and limit the amount of space needed in your vanity area for storage. 

Placing your desk in a room corner allows you to use the wall space for shelving. Putting shelves on either side of the vanity table can help to create some separation from your bedroom. You can also add a floor-length mirror beside your table or a rack to hang your clothes. 

Depending on where you create it, you can add an area rug to tie everything together. A rug is also beneficial in this area because it will help to protect your carpet if you accidentally drop makeup or nail polish. 

A Final Word to Help You Create the Perfect Vanity Setup 

Your vanity should be all about you. It is your place to prepare yourself in the morning and get ready for bed after a long day. Mix elements to make it peaceful and inspiring. Keep it clean and purposeful. By following these tips, you will create the perfect place to focus on yourself and live a more fulfilling life. 

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