Decorating with mirrors

Mirrors are not only beautiful, but functional too - serving a purpose in every home. Interior designer Donna White tells us how to decorate the home with mirrors.

Bathroom with black tiled feature wall and round mirror
ARTICLE Donna White

David Lange once said the reason for a well-know politician being late to a meeting was because ‘he’s probably been delayed by a full-length mirror’.
The wonderful thing about mirrors is they not only have a multitude of aesthetic and mood-enhancing qualities, they are also useful for practical purposes such as personal grooming and presentation. In fact, a bold and gorgeous mirror can be the focal point of a room; and equally important for many, it can also serve as a last-minute checkpoint as you head out the door to a meeting.
Don’t underestimate the mirror as an effective tool for dealing with a number of decorating challenges. They can double the size of a small space, create an ‘extra’ room, and add glamour and sparkle to a room or a dull corner. They can be grouped, or stand-alone, be treated as a wall, and can even become artwork.
Using mirrors to create a sense of space is a trick of interior design. The reflection in a mirror fools the eye (trompe-l’oeill) into feeling there is a greater amount of space than in reality. As a general rule, the larger the size of the mirror, the larger the room looks. I once placed a large, full-length mirror on the wall at the end of a short hallway in an old miner’s cottage.
Instantly, this gave a person walking the short corridor a sense of increased length of space. To create this feeling, the mirror should be hung on the wall that the eye looks at first.
A large mirror does not only have to hang on a wall. Large, full-sized mirrors placed on the floor and resting against a wall can make a dramatic statement. However, the location and placement of the mirror is key when utilising them. You want a mirror - whether large, medium or small - to have a positive effect. They are an easy way to reflect the beauty of a room. But be careful where you position a mirror, because you don’t want a repetition of an undesirable sight.
Mirrors are like decorative windows you can move around and place as you like. They are especially effective in dark rooms, and rooms with few or no windows, because they add depth and allow a play of light.
Reflective light will brighten a room, and so choose objects for dark rooms that have reflective surfaces. The mirror is a main consideration.
Mirrors visually expand your space, while adding a touch of style, but they aren’t just for the wall. Mirrored furniture from decks and dressers, to coffee tables and folding screens – all have reflective surfaces that make the furniture recede and add depth to a room. Because of this, they are a way of having big furniture without cluttering a space.
Consider a mirrored ceiling for windowless rooms. When the light is turned on, the mirror helps spread the light and will brighten an otherwise dull space.
Mirrors can also be treated as a wall. For example, in the tiniest of bathrooms a wall-to-wall mirror will expand the appearance of it. However, mirrors on entire walls and ceilings should be professionally cut so they fit perfectly.
A bold and gorgeous mirror is often the focal point of a room. However, mirrors can be decorative in themselves without having to have an expensive frame. A wide bevelled edge will add elegance to either a simple or ornate frame.
A decorative mirror can also be used in lieu of art to fill an empty wall space. In fact, they can act as a piece of art. As with art, they can be grouped, or stand alone, and the same rules for hanging art applies to hanging mirrors in whatever arrangement, or grouping.
Mirrors aren’t just for inside the home. They can look great hidden among greenery in a garden. You can create a small window-like portal, through to a full-length one that from a distance looks like you can walk through it.
Where you place the mirror will dictate how successful the illusion is.
Just having a mirror on its own with nothing around it is not effective. It would shout ‘I am a mirror’.
Garden mirrors work best with lots of plants growing around them, and covering the edges.
Mirrors are magical. They illuminate dark corners, add elegance and drama to an area, and create the illusion of space. They can even serve as works of art. There is a mirror for every taste, whether modern, or classic.

You might be interested in reading: A 70s inspired bathroom makeover.

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This article by Donna White featured on page 028 in Issue 016 of Renovate Magazine. Renovate Magazine is an easy to use resource providing fresh inspiration and motivation at every turn of the page.

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*All information is believed to be true at time of publishing and is subject to change.

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