Decorating with mirrors – a designer’s tips

Decorating with mirrors – a designer’s tips

When I think back on all the interior design projects I’ve completed. With all the different clients, different styles, different homes and suburbs, I can honestly say mirrors have not been a big feature. Decorating with mirrors requires a little know how to avoid any mistakes either stylistically or energetically.

You may know that mirrors are said to carry important feng shui principles. Many cultures have ideas or superstitions around mirrors and their use. As my expertise lies with interior design I’ll address some of the misconceptions I think exist around the use of mirrors in our homes.

Myths on decorating with mirrors

With interior design mirrors are sometimes advised to make a space seem bigger or brighter. I’m not sure that is by itself true. It’s rare that I solve an interior design problem such as a small or dark space by decorating with mirrors.

When considering correcting an interior design problem there are many other interior design elements I reflect on. The interior design elements I take into account include; shape, pattern, colour, line, texture, space and light.

All these interior design elements play a role when I’m researching and deciding what to specify for a client and a space. First and foremost, my recommendations solve functional and perception problems rather than style or decorative problems.

For example, if a bedroom doesn’t have a mirror and a client identifies this as a problem because they like to see what they look like before they leave the house, I will specify a mirror. This is addressing a problem.

But if a client says to me the space feels small and dark, I would consider having less furniture. Or more multifunctional furniture in the space. Sometimes, if the space is dark and small, adding depth to the wall through a mirror might make the space feel even smaller, narrow or cluttered.

Another example, was a country property I was working on, that was surrounded by a verandah. This structural element really impacted the quantity of natural light the whole house received. My client asked if a mirror would help.

Realistically the best way to solve this problem is to address the cause, that is change the covering of the verandah to a sheer material.

So before buying and installing a mirror have a think about what functional problem the mirror is solving?

Style and colour

If they’re not solving a functional problem then mirrors can add value stylistically. Therefore, knowing your style and colour scheme is important. From an interior style perspective mirror can add value to a space.

For example, if your preferred interior style is French Provincial, then an antiqued mirror can extend the design story. A mirror can also add interest and depth to your styling.

There are some styles that lends themselves well to mirrors, for example coastal styles such as Hamptons. The reason for this is because coastal houses tend to have coastal views which can be reflected into a space through the use of mirrors.

Not all styles require the addition of a mirror, for example, Boho style is more about texture and natural materials, including plant life.

Each interior style has characteristics that are important to include to achieve a particular look, so sometimes mirrors will work stylistically and sometimes they won’t.

When to use mirrors in your home

Other than achieving a particular interior style, there are energetic reasons for decorating with mirrors. My feng shui knowledge is based on my interest and therefore personal reading, rather than any formal qualifications. But here’s a quick overview of when to use mirrors in your home to ensure there is a good flow of movement or chi.

Use mirrors in irregular shaped spaces, such as sharp corners or angles. If there is a dark section of a hallway you can use a mirror here to ensure the chi is circulated through this section of the hallway.

Ensure mirrors are framed. Keep mirrors clean, free from dust. If you’re mirror breaks or is scratched replace it. Finally ensure the reflection projected in the mirror is complete, not broken. You want the whole image reflected in the mirror.

Things to avoid when decorating with mirrors

When decorating with mirrors make sure the mirrors don’t have any joins, aim for a singular piece. It’s not a good idea to install or hang mirrors opposite each other. Like this the chi bounces back and forth between the mirrors rather than flowing through your home.

Don’t place a mirror above a bed or opposite a bed, this impacts your sleep and dreams. It’s also not ideal to place mirrors opposite doors. This way the good chi entering your home will be reflected and leave again rather than flowing through it. Don’t place a mirror directly opposite windows either for the same reason.

The flow of movement in your home is an important interior design principle. As an interior designer this is also part of my creating thinking process when working on a project. For a space to ‘work’ the flow of movement needs to work as well.

Essentially the flow of movement is literally how we walk through a space and around the furniture but it’s also an intangible concept that relates to the overall feel of the space.

There’s no need to be intimidated when decorating with mirrors if you consider whether their use is solving a functional problem first. If you want a mirror to achieve a particular interior style consider the location first and make sure there are no feng shui or energetic problems with that particular location.

Finally, mirrors should always reflect something pleasant such as a view or a piece of art. After all a mirror’s job is primarily to reflect rather than look good. Remembering that the reflection of the mirror is equally important as the look of the mirror will ensure that you are placing the mirror in a good place in your home.

Cover Photo by Liana Mikah on Unsplash

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