Mirror, mirror on the wall… What’s the best design decision of them all? In this edition of #TipTuesday, three interior designers talk about the instances when mirrors are the right design choice and share the challenges that arise when selecting the perfect one.
Profession: Owner, Heidi Caillier Design, Seattle
What is your rule of thumb when it comes to choosing between a mirror or a piece of artwork? When deciding between a mirror or artwork, I consider what else is going on in the space. Mirrors are an opportunity to bring in light and to make a space feel larger, so I often use them in rooms that feel dark or that need to feel more expansive. Maybe there is artwork on another wall that will compete, or there are a lot of bold statements with the furnishings and fabrics. In those cases, a mirror is the best option so the room feels balanced.
What is the main challenge you find when selecting a mirror? Mirrors are always a balance of scale and design. It’s all about finding the perfect size for the space and then determining if we want it to be a statement piece or something simple that allows the rest of the room shine. Cost is also a challenge, as many clients feel that a mirror will be more of a savings route than art, which is not always true.
Are there any areas that always call for a mirror? I don’t believe there are many cases that always call for something in design, because design is an organic process. I think it’s nice to have a mirror in every bathroom, but aside from that, no. It’s all about what is best for each space, and for the people who live in it.
Profession: Owner, Rona Landman Interior Design, New York City
What is your rule of thumb when it comes to choosing between a mirror or a piece of artwork? Mirrors double as art. Like art, they can be dramatic or a focal point in a room. When deciding between art and a mirror, I ask myself: Is the view from the mirror worthy to reflect? If not, I go with art. Mirrors should be used to show or enhance a view of something interesting or beautiful in the space. I use art to add depth, color and composition to a room. Mirrors ideally offer easy access for personal use. Artwork also should have enough negative space around it to be able to breathe and to be enjoyed. Mirrors can also be used to enlarge a smaller space to make it seem bigger and to reflect light.
What is the main challenge you find when selecting a mirror? Appropriate scale and making sure the right decorative detail on the frame is scaled appropriately so that the view can be enhanced. Picking artwork is challenging and so can picking a mirror if you’re looking for drama or to make it a focal point. Also, finding a mirror with the appropriate glass can be a challenge. A smoked glass mirror should not be used for grooming purposes, not matter how beautiful.
Are there any areas that always call for a mirror? Most definitely an entry foyer, a dressing area and a bathroom. These are instances where people need to be able to have the opportunity for a once-over.
Photographed by Robert Granoff
Profession: Principal, Stephanie Rapp Interiors, Fairfield County, Connecticut
What is your rule of thumb when it comes to choosing between a mirror or a piece of artwork? In my designs, I believe that mirrors are “functional art.” A mirror can be a focal point and be used to make a statement within a designed space. The shape, color or material can stand out and provide juxtaposition with other important pieces in the room. Or it can be used to complement other design elements and support the style of the space. An etched or antiqued mirrored wall can create the backdrop for art and amplify the light in the room, or reflect a stunning view.
What is the main challenge you find when selecting a mirror? Most importantly, mirrors must only reflect that which is worth repeating: a focal point, a significant piece of art, or an important design element, such as an amazing chandelier. Mirrors also provide the important function of expanding space, so scale should be appropriate and err on being oversized. Smaller mirrors look best in clusters or groups, creating a vignette.
Are there any areas that always call for a mirror? Besides the obvious placement in bathrooms and dressing areas, the entry is an important area to place a mirror. As Carly Simon so poignantly sang about vanity, most people do feel the need to “check their look in the mirror” when they leave or enter a home. Placement in an entryway can also expand the area by repeating the space, as well as bringing the outdoors or other elements in.