Mirrors are one of those elements that are required in every home in multiple locations and find their way into most public spaces, not just in the bathrooms. They provide more than our vanity check or to aid in self-care and grooming.
Mirrors are slightly magical. They distort if placed at a certain angle. They show the reverse or “mirror” image of their subject. Mirrors speak the truth, providing a very real, undistorted view of reality that cannot be altered in Photoshop, for better or worse.
As interior designers, we often use mirrors as tools. There are the numerous effects of the glass, which we use to achieve many outcomes: to fool the eye and expand the perception of space; to exponentially increase the amount of light in a space; to facilitate enjoyment of a vista when facing the opposite direction of a window or door; or to add a sense of opening or portal to a space with few or no windows. We also take advantage of them to reflect the back of a sculpture to be appreciated as much as the front, or to double the delight of flowers, lit candles, or anything else placed in front of them.
Mirrors can also be used to set mood. Applying reverse-painting or antiquing adds a hazymysticism to a room. They can be placed inmultiples or in key spots to provide small, intriguing glimpses or to add sparkle.
The shape and size of a mirror is yet another source of impact, and requires consideration of other factors. If most surrounding elements in a room are squared, implementing a different shape breaks the lines, and becomes a feature, whether round, arched, oval or parabolic. Dramatic effect can be achieved with long, slender mirrors, placed either horizontally or vertically. Conversely, if arched windows are in the vicinity, or if clean lines throughout are called for, then squared off is the best approach. If the room needs heightening, then the taller the better.
The finish or material of the frame is the most obvious factor in selecting a mirror when not a slab mirror. The choices are endless: wood, leather, metal, fabric, horn, driftwood, or shell, heavily carved, distressed, painted or stained, with decorative embellishment such as nail heads, hand-painting, bone... even porcupine quills! One determination is just howmuch you want the frame to make a statement and demand notice, rather than to merely provide a finishing detail. That helps determine not only the finish, but the visual weight both in width and depth.
Creating a custom mirror by utilizing a good frame shop is not only a lot of fun, with hundreds of choices at your fingertips, but also allows you to produce the exact size needed for a particular location. Layering two or three moldings can be a greatway to add interest, and combine colors, textures, and create dimension. Molding samples can be taken home on-approval to find just the right combination for your space.
To bevel or not to bevel, and in what increment, is another detail for consideration. Used in more traditional settings, beveled edges add finesse and elegance, but can add a considerable amount to the cost of a custommirror.
Mirrors can become art. They are both decorative and highly functional, and can be valuable additions to many kinds of interiors.
Heather Van Luchene, ASID, and Steffany Hollingsworth, ASID, are partners inHVL Interiors, LLC, an interior design firm offering professional residential and hospitality design services. Both areNew Mexico-licensed interior designers. They can be reached at (505) 983-3601 or info@ hvlinteriors.com.
The Anjou Mirror by Donghia, Inc., of Milford, Ct.