At this time of year, daylight is in short supply. If your home isn’t bathed in natural light, you will find that mirrors are the best way to boost both artificial and natural light, as well as inject a sense of airiness – and just the right level of glamour – into your home.
You probably have the obligatory, toothpaste-splattered mirror above your bathroom sink and, if you have a mantlepiece, chances are, there’s a mirror above that too. But a little inventiveness will help you see mirrors in a new light and appreciate them as much for their form as their function.
Words | Nell Card
Mirroring a Window or View
We are hardwired to hang mirrors in the middle of a wall, But if your aim is to capture as much natural daylight as possible and bounce it around the room, then consider hanging mirrors on the wall adjacent to your window. It may look unexpected at first, but it will double your dose of daylight. If your window affords you a beautiful view, it will also reflect this from a different angle, expanding your view of the great outdoors.
Photography (left) Jon Cu, (right) Københavns Møbelsnedkeri
There is something inherently opulent about a freestanding, floor-length mirror – and you don’t need a capacious country pile to display one. A freestanding mirror is the one over-sized piece of furniture that will actually make smaller spaces feel taller and brighter. If you can find one that fits snugly into an alcove, you can place an item of furniture (a chair or console) in front of it, and it will have an “anchoring” effect. They look especially atmospheric stood at one end of the dining table, reflecting the scene and allowing you to use softer lighting whilst you eat. And there’s nothing naff about using a free-standing mirror to anchor a frameless bed. A steel or wooden framed mirror peeping above your pillows is much classier than an over-stuffed headboard. (For safety reasons, it’s always best to attach the “free-standing” mirror to your wall using brackets or a hook and chain.)
Photography (left) Ochre, (right) Chris Snook
The Mirror as Artwork
Mirrors by their very nature, are meant to be looked in – but they can also function as a work of art. Sarah Ellison, founder of the interior design studio, Frank & Faber, explains: “Mirrors can provide a lovely alternative to art, offering a stunning focal point for a room as well as enhancing natural light and a feeling of space. We are particularly keen on vintage mirrors which have a foxed or antiqued finish. Like other vintage pieces they have an innate character built up through years of wear that introduces warmth, personality and a softness to a space.”
Photography by Catherine Gratwicke / Reid & Wright
Distortion is another element that can elevate a mirror to the status of art. Reid & Wright are a London-based firm that specialise in handcrafting bespoke, round mirrors that are designed to be looked at as much as in. Co-founder Natasha Reid explains the appeal: “Convex glass is wonderfully effective as a way to maximise light, because unlike flat mirror, convex glass offer a 180-degree reflection, capturing light from both ends of the room in a truly sculptural way. Hanging artwork opposite a convex glass is always interesting as the distorted reflections create wonderful images.”
The appeal of hanging multiple mirrors, salon-style on the same wall is two-fold. Firstly, the frames and shapes themselves create visual interest. Second, the fragmented reflection they create collectively delivers impact in what might be an otherwise featureless room. The key is to find similar-sized mirrors with a theme that unites them. You can pick up metallic sunburst frames for very little in most retro and vintage shops, whilst shapely, bevel-edged mirrors from the 40s and 50s are great value and still relatively easy to find secondhand.
Photography (left) Petra Bindel, (right) Catherine Gratwicke / Reid & Wright
Creating Some Space
If you have a particularly maximalist scheme, a mirror can provide welcome respite for the eye. A busy expanse of wallpaper, for example, can be broken up by a large mirror with a plain frame. The same applies for smaller surfaces: a beautiful free-standing mirror will break up a densely-packed bookshelf, cluttered dresser or mantlepiece.
Mirrors by their very nature, are meant to be looked at, but they don’t always have to take centre stage in your home. If you have a small, enclosed garden, a wall-mounted mirror peaking out from behind some greenery will create the illusion of space and adds a magical twinkle to an otherwise dark, dank space.
Inspired by our pick of mirror ideas? Browse the Bert & May collection of mirrors here and find our Pinterest board here.