Most people use it every day without thinking about its beauty or significance. A mirror is intrinsically neutral, neither traditional nor contemporary, and blends well in any interior. It can give the illusion of depth to a flat wall or even make the wall seem to disappear.
In the public rooms of a house, a mirror is about definition and decoration rather than checking one's reflection.
In bedrooms and bathrooms, it's a practical necessity.
In a foyer and in select areas throughout the house, it's useful for checking hair and makeup.
When trying to decide whether to hang a mirror or a piece of art, the choice should always come down to the one that is most aesthetically appealing. But in many cases a mirror just works better. With a beautiful frame and decorative details, it is art.
Hung on a wall opposite a painting, it reflects the image, giving the painting even more importance. Besides being beautiful, mirrors, with their silvery coloration and reflective powers, can mask problems, such as inadequate space and poor light.
Mirrors enhance architecture by effectively extending the line of sight to emphasize a great view. They can also lighten the visual weight of a bulky wall. In a long hallway with one windowed wall, applying mirrors to the facing wall gives the illusion of another wall of windows. It lightens the space and makes it feel broader. Mirrors can also be used on cabinet fronts or as backsplashes.
Mirroring an entire wall can be tricky. "The key to mirroring a wall is to divide it up into sections," says Dallas designer Jan Showers. "I like one large section flanked with either long rectangular shapes or square shapes, depending on the size of the wall."
Furniture manufacturers are also rediscovering the allure of mirrored pieces. Historically, mirrored glass was expensive, so most mirrors were small and moveable, such as those found on vanity tables. Now vanity tables themselves are mirrored. "I love them because they reflect light up on the face and make it easier to apply makeup," says designer Jan Showers.
When hanging a mirror, consider the height, which is critical to getting the best reflection. Over a mantel, a mirror may be too high to see yourself or the room in the reflection and might end up reflecting the ceiling. Mirrors with frames that are more important than the reflection, such as starburst mirrors, work well at a higher level.
Unless it is used for primping, a mirror looks best when it reflects light from a window.
Check what will be reflected in the mirror by standing where it will hang and looking at the opposite wall.
Use separate picture hangers on both sides of the back of the frame, rather than a wire. The two hangers will keep the mirror flat to the wall; a wire can cause the mirror to hang at an angle, distorting the reflection.
A dining room can be a wonderful place to bring in a mirror or a mirrored tabletop, but make sure it does not reflect strong glare from recessed lighting or chandelier bulbs. Chandelier shades or a chandelier that uses candles helps reduce glare.
Clear clutter when installing a mirror above a table or countertop. You don't want the accoutrements of daily life reflected two or three times.
Consider the color of the adjacent walls when using a wide mirror because the color will be intensified. A particularly dark hue on the walls will cast a stronger blue tint in the mirror. White, beige, and gray marble, however, sparkle in bathrooms with expanses of mirror. This combination appears often in luxurious bathrooms.