Oh, my, it is spring all over! The flowers are blooming and ole’ Rose is feeling just a teeny-weeny bit of the seasonal fever. It’s just luscious, you know. My dear friend Claire (she is doing fine, thank you for asking) just can’t get enough of our afternoon teas. Well, with such wonderful weather about us, I just must bring that radiant light into my home to enjoy. It is light, Hon, and opening up the space of your house that I want to talk about this month. The easiest way to accomplish that is by the skillful use of mirrors.
The magnificence of mirrors! Oh, what would the world of decorating be without them? Even the most profoundly drab little space is instantly improved by a properly positioned mirror. Dear Heart, let Rose share some of her little secrets that I have accumulated over the years, some of the wonderful tidbits that clever decorators have used. I’m sure you will find something that fits your space.
The main thing to remember is that mirrors do two things, they expand the perceived space and reflect light back into the living area that would otherwise be absorbed by the wall. And, Dear One, that is just the beginning. The key is to use the mirror in a strategic or delightfully different way. Here are some examples…
First, we must start big (how else would one start, Dear?). If you were to take an entire wall and cover it in one large mirror, it would make the room feel at least twice the size than it really is. If a room is quite small and claustrophobic, this will certainly help. But, honestly, one may find that to be so overwhelming. Here are the “NEVER” rules for mirrors, one must be sure to never do any of these:
First, never position mirrors across from each other so that you can see from one to the other. This creates a strange tunnel-like illusion and the multiple reflections are a terrible distraction, which may actually cause the faint-hearted to sink into an unnerving state of vertigo.
Second, never position large mirrors directly facing a chair, sofa, dining table or even across from the toilet or shower in the bathroom! It is distracting to watch one’s self chatting, eating or whatever else, like a camera positioned to watch your every move. If you must use a mirror in such a location, position it in such a way to be the least obtrusive as possible.
Third, never overuse mirrors. Break up the large reflective surface by framing it with plants, artwork or other items of interest to distract the eye while still benefitting from the extra light and space. If you feel up for grand coverage, it will be quite expensive to have the mirror cut and installed professionally. Other options are available, such as mirror sheets, tiles and squares in various styles.
There are many other, more creative uses for mirrors. Use them to increase the effects of light within a window-starved room. Mirrors work particularly well when placed near, facing or on walls adjacent to windows. For more privacy in a bedroom or bathroom, or to block an unattractive view of the outside, try using a mirror on the lower sash of a window. Place some flowers or knick-knacks on the still for effect. I have seen mirrors used on door panels, whether cabinets or closets- but this is not everyone’s preferred use of them.
Mirrors can also be effectively used when framed or enshrouded in hanging plants, curtains or special lighting. Use them with or in place of wall pictures. Sometimes, a small table of framed pictures also contains at least one mirror framed as a portrait…a playful take on the images looking back at the curious viewer. They are also particularly effective above a mantle and the addition of candles repeats the feeling of the hearth below.
As you see, my Dear, the use of mirrors is limited only by imagination and taste. There simply is no better way, other than wiring in more lighting or installing a new window, to improve the brightness and spaciousness of a room. Well, then, Dear, I must be on my way….until next time, Kisses!
An earlier version of this article appeared in the publication New Directions for Better Living in the April, 1997 issue.