Decorating with mirrors has more benefits than just giving you a place to check your outfit. A wonderfully versatile design feature, they add instant glamor and interest while also increasing natural light and maximizing the sense of space in your home.
One of the easiest decorating ideas, adding a mirror to any room in your home can have a significant impact on the appearance of the space. However, this is only true if you know the tricks of the trade to position them correctly and choose the right weight of frame and frame design.
'In terms of functionality, a mirror can be used to spread natural light and to create the illusion of space.If you have a small living room, consider mounting a large mirror above a fireplace, or style leaning against a focal wall. To maximize light, position mirrors in areas where natural light shines to reflect the light to more dimly lit areas - making the overall space feel brighter throughout the day,’ says Anna Franklin, interior designer and founder of Stone House Collective.
Decorating with mirrors: interior designers' tricks
For some rooms, decorating with mirrors will seem straightforward with the design and placement seeming natural. For example, a large, decorative mirror will always look great above fireplace ideas. However, in other spaces, such as the kitchen or even bedrooms it might be more of a challenge.
‘The opportunities are endless with mirrors because of the number of styles they come in. Because of their ability to reflect light, a mirror is an amazing focal point at the end of a narrow space. Pair it with a table and a plant and you have a beautiful vignette,’ says Esther Dormer, founder and interior designer at Esther Dormer.
Mirrors are also a must for small rooms. ‘Adding large mirrors or a mirrored wall can create the perception of depth, making even the smallest room feel larger than it is,’ recommends Ally Maloney Winzer, principal at Maloney Interiors.
1. Places mirrors opposite windows to maxmize light
‘Placing mirrors where the light naturally falls is one of the oldest but best tricks in the book, it enhances the natural light and makes the room appear much larger and brighter. A carefully placed mirror that is opposite a window will echo the natural light and greenery into a smaller room, helping to bring the outdoors in,’ says Jen & Mar, Co-Founders of Interior Fox.
2. Consider the glass-style as well as the frame
When decorating with mirrors, there are lots of elements to consider. As well as thinking of the style of the frame and its placement, also think about the appearance of the glass.
‘Mirrors are a viable alternative to expensive pictures, and function as works of art in their own right,’ explains Antiques Roadshow expert Marc Allum. ‘What most people would call ‘worn out’ is a joy to others. Where the silvering on a period mirror is very poor and degraded, making it rather redundant as a mirror, it is actually a decorators dream and even adds value.’
3. Add mirrored tiles to the kitchen
Incorporating mirrors into your kitchen ideas can brighten the space, adding a glamorous touch to what can be cold and clinical. This is particularly true for small kitchen ideas where space and light is often at a premium.
There are several different options for decorating with mirrors in your kitchen, from mirrors placed on the walls through to mirrored kitchen cabinet ideas. However, your backsplash offers the perfect opportunity to add a reflective surface into your kitchen ideas. A minimalist and flawless mirror is a great addition to modern kitchen ideas, alternatively patinated and antique backsplash ideas are perfect for traditional kitchen ideas. However, both of these options can be complicated to install and will require regular cleaning. For a less demanding option consider creating a decorative backsplash with mirrored tile backsplash ideas.
'This mirrored backsplash is so special. I wanted to create many points of unique interest in this kitchen, and using mirrors was a perfect way to do that. Mirrors add an element of high-gloss glamour to any space without it feeling overdone. I also decided to keep the mirror backsplash focused to the coffee bar area because a little bit of mirror here goes a long way,' says Malka Helft, designer at Think Chic Interiors.
4. Opt for accent mirrored furniture
Decorating with mirrors is not just reserved for oval designs hung on the walls. Mirrors can be integrated into all styles of furniture from sideboards to bed frames
– each design gives their reflective qualities a new dimension and increases the benefit.
Of course, it is important to select your mirrored furniture carefully or else your look can quickly go from sophisticated to tacky. Keep mirrored furniture to a minimum, it should be an accent piece that is positioned in a prime location.
Another consideration is its maintenance. While there are many methods for how to clean mirrors, you don't want to be having to wipe your furniture multiple times a day. Therefore, when considering a piece of mirrored furniture, opt for something that doesn't see a lot of traffic – an occasionally open set of drawers will fair much better than a desk. Also consider a design that features fretwork or overlays, which breaks up the appearance of the mirror, making it seem more sophisticated while also disguising streaks and marks.
5. Decorate your bedroom with a mirrored headboard
Occupying a large proportion of the wall space in your bedroom, your headboard offers the opportunity to add color, print and texture to your bedroom ideas. Acting as a focal point, your headboard also offers the perfect opportunity for decorating with mirrors.
When adding bedroom mirror ideas into your scheme, you must be cognisant of reflections, especially during the night – a wrongly placed mirror can reflect light towards where you are sleeping, disrupting your rest, or can quickly feel unsettling once the lights are turned out. By opting for a mirrored headboard, you have all the space and light increasing benefits by day, but it is practically invisible once you are in bed. Mirrored headboard ideas are also a great option for attic bedroom ideas, where wall space is limited.
Selecting a mirrored headboard with overlaid detailing also means that you don't have to worry about keeping the glass flawless as small marks and streaks will not be instantly obvious.
6. Consider mirrored accessories for a touch of glamor
When considering ways of decorating with mirrors, don't get too hung up on large scale additions – even the smallest mirrored accessories can make a difference to your space.
'I love to use mirrors in more unexpected ways, such as here with a mirrored tray. It adds so much light and dimension to the coffee table, and creates some contrast. It's a low risk way to incorporate mirrors into your decor,' says Amy Leferink, designer at Interior Impressions.
7. Treat mirrors like artwork
Consider decorating with mirrors in the same way you would add art to your walls. Opt for pretty frames and consider a layout inspired by gallery wall ideas.
'Mirrors can be treated like artwork, especially if you find ones that have some architectural details and bold design,' says Amy Leferink, designer at Interior Impressions. 'Here, using three very sculptural mirrors adds more than just light and reflection into the dining room. It's an easy, low-cost way to create a focal point on a wall and add visual intrigue.'
8. Use mirrors to achieve a Regencycore aesthetic
With shows such as the Bridgerton and The Crown as popular as ever, Regencycore is very of the moment with homeowners all wanted to add a little bit of elegance to their interiors. Decorating with mirrors is an easy and cost-effect way to embrace the trend.
'To help create a Regencycore-inspired design statement, select a large-scale mirror with gilded, intricate framing details. You can lean this on a main wall in a living room or entryway to make it a focal design element and give it a moment of its own within your home,' says Anna.
9. Ensure the mirror's reflection is worthy
‘When decorating with mirrors, we always recommend going for the largest mirror you can afford to make the most of every ray of light from your mirror’s reflection,' says Lucy St George of Rockett St George. 'Traditionally mirrors are often hung from the walls or placed on a mantlepiece to reflect your ceiling and opposite walls. So, make sure you consider what will be shown in the reflection and opt for a show-stopping chandelier or fabulous gallery wall of artwork to extend the wow factor. The clever trick of the reflection means you’ll now have two of these features, so the bolder and more beautiful, the better.'
10. Invest in bespoke glass panels for alcoves
Alcoves are an extremely useful architectural space in a living room, they can be used for bookcases, displaying artwork, or, use them to brighten and reflect instead by decorating with mirrors.
‘Adding custom antiqued mirror wall panels in the recesses either side of the fireplace in a large living room creates a subtle reflective surface and a gentle, diffused light within the space,’ shares London-based interior designer, Henry Prideaux. ‘Using this verre églomisé technique is a lovely way of distracting the eye beyond the main elements and emphasising all the unexpected little vignettes within the room instead.’
11. Install a mirrored wall for impact
While a large picture might overpower a room – and particularly a small room – a large mirror will do the opposite. As long as the frame isn't too bulky (more on that below), decorating with mirrors on a larger scale will only serve to make a room feel bigger and brighter, so dare to pick a design that's on the larger side rather than one with more modest proportions.
And if there's little wall space to hang a mirror, a floor-standing mirror is a great way of decorating with mirror. However, if a dramatic impact is your goal, you can ask a specialist to fit an entire mirrored wall to double the size of your living room – visually, anyway. This clever design by VSP Interiors fits around the fire surround and the painting has been hung as if it's a normal wall, and the result is striking.
Also note the symmetry created by the two chandeliers and sofas, this gives a structure to the scheme, you don’t want it to be too busy as it will reflect back in the mirrored wall.
12. Create a gallery wall of mirrors to create a vignette
Not only is decorating with mirrors great for reflecting light, it can also give you the opportunity to create a vignette, especially when hung as a gallery, creating a light-reflecting, space-enhancing focal point.
Round mirrors can also soften a space that's furnished with hard materials – and will be a better fit than square or rectangular pieces on an awkward-shaped wall.
13. Get the proportions of an overmantel mirror just right
Getting the size of your mirror right is vital when decorating with mirrors – and going too small will be more of a design issue than choosing one that's too large for the space.
So, when it comes to choosing a mirror for a mantelpiece, ensure that it is the same width as the mantel or just a few inches smaller on each side. To make a ceiling feel higher, be generous with the height of your mirror, too – note how the perfectly proportioned mirror in this living room designed by Katie McCrum Interior Design reaches just above the top shelves of the alcoves.
14. Ensure mirror placement is maximized
Decorating with mirrors is a great way to enhance natural light and make the room appear larger and brighter. ‘A carefully placed mirror that is across from a window will echo the natural light and greenery into a smaller room, helping to bring the outdoors in,’ explains Jenna Choate, Co-Founder of interior design studio, Interior Fox.
It’s also worth noting how a mirror can fit into a scheme – taking this image as an example, the slim black frame is followed through in the coffee table, window frames and artwork, creating a cohesive look that’s stylish to boot.
15. Add a decorative touch between two windows
The beauty of decorating with mirrors is that they come in all shapes and sizes, minimalist and maximalist. We mention placement above, and it’s not always about popping up a mirror in the obvious places like above the mantel, they can work fabulously well when placed in more obscure spots too.
This stunning vintage mirror with its ornate detailing perfectly reflects the rest of this living room scheme by interior designer Athena Calderone, tricking the eye into believing the space is larger than it is.
16. Pick a mirror design that looks like a window
The larger the mirror, the more light you can bounce about and reflect back – which is the perfect antidote to a space that’s on the small side and lacking in light.
We don’t just mean picking one that’s a basic rectangle either, be inventive and choose a design that has a decorative appeal – a beautiful curved top that mimics an old Victorian window pane will totally enhance your space from both a practical and style point of view.
17. Pick a frame style to suit your scheme
Frame weight is important when it comes to decorating with mirrors. Grand, sculpted, dense or dark-colored mirror frames are best suited to big mirrors in large, traditionally-styled rooms or to small mirrors that you've chosen to be a focal point (again, more on that below).
In more contemporary spaces, mirrors with more subtle framing are a better choice. If your room is particularly small, frameless mirrors will enhance the space without impinging on it.
18. Choose mirrors as a decorative element
Consider approaching decorating with mirrors the same way you would pictures or painting – they should be a feature in themselves. They look particularly great in small bedroom ideas. So, if you have a space to fill in a room and have found a mirror with a beautiful frame, ensure it's displayed and positioned just like a picture would be – to be shown off.
19. Use a mirror to reflect light with clever positioning
If a mirror's main function is to reflect light, its best position is adjacent to a window rather than opposite it – that way it can boost the maximum amount of light.
Decorating with mirrors is a great solution for light-starved rooms. Placing a lamp or wall light adjacent to or in front of a mirror can double its light-boosting effect.
20. Get the mirror's height right
Height is a key component for decorating with mirrors. When you hang a picture, you would usually place the mid-point of the art at eye-height – or around 5ft off the ground. Decorating with mirrors is subtly different: it needs to be positioned to provide the best reflection. In a hallway, this might mean at eye-height so that you can check your reflection before you leave the house; in a living space, it may hang higher to show off that wonderful light fitting.
Having a piece of furniture below where a mirror hangs will affect its height too. Ideally, hang the mirror so that the bottom of the frame is nearer to the furniture below it than to the ceiling above, so that the connection between the furniture and the mirror is clear. Hang a mirror too high and it will feel disconnected from the rest of the room.
21. Set the tone of your scheme with a mirror
The overmantel mirror has long been favored as a way to create a focal point when decorating with mirrors. It is a wonderful way to reflect the items on the mantlepiece and other items in the room, such as a beautiful light fitting.
If you are choosing a mirror for a mantlepiece, its proportions are important – too small and it will look misplaced, so ensure it fills out at least two-thirds of the width of the mantelpiece.
'By reflecting all the beautiful design details around you, mirrors work perfectly with lighting to set the tone in your scheme. From the subtle ambiance of side lights to the shadows that bounce off the walls, a show-stopping mirror enhances natural light and projects glowing reflections all around the room.
'With so many styles and sizes available, there are myriad of options for introducing the magic of mirrors to your home,' says Lucy St George of Rockett St George.
22. Use mirrors to make a small space feel bigger and brighter
Alcove mirrors are less traditional way of decorating with mirrors but they have a distinct advantage – or two. First, they offer double the wall space for mirrors, so a small, dark living room will feel twice as bright as with a single mirror – and particularly the corner furthest from the window.
Secondly, they offer the opportunity for table lamps to sit in front the mirrors on console tables, which means that when lit, artificial light has more of a brightening, space-enhancing effect, too.
23. Layer an ornate mirror over mirrored panelling
Doubling up is a great and unusual way for decorating with mirrors. Artwork or even an ornate mirror looks fantastic hung on a mirrored wall. When creating a mirror for the backdrop of your wall decor ideas, it is important to consider the weight of the piece – contacting your glazier for advice or help on drilling through glass is a wise option.
24. Make a low ceiling feel higher and a small room larger
A mirrored finish the front of fitted wardrobe is a fabulous idea when decorating with mirrors as it minimizes its impact of this large piece on the look and feel of a scheme. Decorating with mirrors also helps to create the illusion of spaciousness and is a great way to cheat the narrowing effect.
When used across a wall, it is vital to get the right mirror glass style for your space. Plain mirror glass is the practical choice, but if you want to create a vintage feel to a room, adding antiqued glass in panels or within a frame, such as in the kitchen above, will create more of a decorative effect, adding texture to a plain space.
25. Make a tiny bathroom feel larger with mirrored walls
Decorating with mirrors is essential when designing small bathroom ideas. Designed in accordance with your small bathroom lighting ideas, they offer the perfect way to brighten and accentuate your space.
This room is a superb example of how antiqued mirror glass can bring drama and atmosphere to a scheme, with panels featuring lightly foxed edges for further authenticity.
The wall also makes this relatively small, low-ceilinged room feel much more spacious. 'Heavily antiqued mirror is currently on trend. It will utterly transform a room and bring real drama to any space,' says Rupert Bevan, managing director, Rupert Bevan.
26. Use mirrors to create a design surprise
Of course, decorating with mirrors isn't reserved just for items you can hang – mirror panels can adhere to walls just like tiles do, and it's this mirror type that can be used really successfully in spaces you might not normally consider, such as for kitchen backsplashes, for floor-to-ceiling treatments in bathrooms, and even on doors.
27. Use mirrors in the garden to cheat a small space
Decorating with mirrors in your garden is also a wonderful way to embrace the beauty of nature. Through the reflection of your outdoor mirror, you can essentially double up your plants to create a gorgeous, outdoor oasis with a tropical feel that will whisk you far away. It is a must for small garden ideas but will look great in larger garden designs.
'Vintage and Crittall-style mirrors are personal favourite for me,' says Lucy St George of Rockett St George. 'These beautiful designs add structure and character to any setting and blend in beautifully amongst the other textures of the garden. Whether nestled amongst foliage or displayed against a rustic brick wall, a fabulous mirror helps to create your very own secret garden for enjoying the long, lazy days of summer.’
‘Mirrors are one of a few brilliant design tricks that we can steal from our interiors and introduce into the garden,' says Jane Rockett. 'In the same way as in the home, mirrors are perfect for creating additional space in smaller courtyards and patios by reflecting natural sunlight back into the garden.'
How do you decorate a room with a mirror?
To decorate a room with a mirror, you should treat it like you would a piece of art, choosing a position for it that really shows it off to best effect. Unlike a picture, though, a mirror's reflection needs to be carefully considered – that reflection will, in effect become a piece of art in itself. So, if you can position your mirror to reflect a beautiful view, fabulous architecture or a wonderful light fitting, you have got it just right.
Are mirrors on walls outdated?
No mirrors on wall are not outdated. In fact, quite the opposite is true – mirrors on walls are timeless pieces and important interior design elements that make small rooms in particular feel bigger and rooms starved of natural light feel brighter. We'd go so far as to say that no room should really be without a mirror. Pick on with an attractive frame and you have a decorative piece, too.
How do you style a mirror in a living room?
There are many opportunities to style a mirror in a living room. The most natural way for decorating with mirrors in a living room is to position it over a fireplace or mantelpiece as doing so will instantly elevate a space that is already the focal point of the room.
‘Consider using mirrors in unexpected places and ways too. Try using a collection of decorative mirror to create a reflective and interesting reflective art wall. Try layering plants in front of corner wall mirror, the reflection makes your plants looking twice as lush, and since plants are often nearby windows, natural light reflections add openness to that space that can be both peaceful and beautiful,’ recommends Kara O'Connor, owner and lead designer of Kara O'Connor Interiors.
What is a good size for a floor mirror?
At least 36 inches is a good size for a floor mirror, this will enable you to be able to see a complete outfit in one glance.
‘When decorating with mirrors, I always take scale into consideration first. If a mirror is intended to serve as a functional piece, such as a floor length mirror, make sure it's set at the right height and that you'd have proper room to step back and see feet to head. If it's hung too high, you're seeing knees to head!’ advises Kara O'Connor.
Having graduated with a first class degree in English Literature four years ago, Holly started her career as a features writer and sub-editor at Period Living magazine, Homes & Gardens' sister title. Working on Period Living brought with it insight into the complexities of owning and caring for period homes, from interior decorating through to choosing the right windows and the challenges of extending. This has led to a passion for traditional interiors, particularly the country-look. Writing for the Homes & Gardens website as a content editor, alongside regular features for Period Living and Country Homes & Interiors magazines, has enabled her to broaden her writing to incorporate her interests in gardening, wildlife and nature.
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