Not much has been written about the merits and sheer magic of using mirrors as focal points and works of art in rooms. So I would like to dedicate this post to the beauty, genius, and magic of mirrors. Everyone has either seen or heard of the famous Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles, built by Louis XIV in 1678. The principal feature of this famous hall is the seventeen mirror-clad arches that reflect the seventeen arcaded windows that overlook the gardens. Each arch contains twenty-one mirrors for a total of 357. In the 17th century, mirrors were among the most expensive items to possess and at the time, the Venetian Republic held the monopoly on the manufacture of mirrors. In order to maintain the integrity of the French philosophy of mercantilism, which required that all items used in the decoration of Versailles be made in France, several workers from Venice were enticed to make mirrors at the Gobelins Factory in France. The expense in manufacture of mirrors has come a long way since those days, and now mirrors have become a staple in every home.
Versailles - Hall of Mirrors
Mirrors over fireplaces:
One of the places in a home most adorned with a mirror (other than the bathroom) is over the fireplace. It is the perfect focal point in a room to strategically place a mirror. Depending on the room and the orientation of the fireplace, a mirror hung over the fireplace can reflect other important areas of the room and create drama and atmosphere. In the picture below I used a "laser" cut mirror above the fireplace, which echoes the filigree pattern in the framed wallpaper panels on either side of the fireplace. I painted the wall behind the mirror a deep chocolate brown to further define the edges of the mirror. The curtains are the same rich chocolate brown color and are made of silk taffeta which further adds to the shimmery effect at night. You can see more pictures of this home here.
The picture above and below I took on my recent trip to Florence in the wonderful Hotel: JK Place. (You can read my Posts on this City here and here). If you ever go to Florence I highly recommend this Hotel. It has style and class oozing out of every crevice, and the staff are very friendly and accommodating. I love the way the mirrors flank the fireplace in the picture above. Notice the interesting corner detail on these mirrors. In the picture below the mirror frame is covered in Zebra skin.
Mirrors in Bathrooms:
Bathroom mirrors come in every size and configuration. In my designs I try to come up with something unique, while still being very functional. The picture below is a bathroom I designed for a client. The mirror on the right is a 3 panel - 3 Way mirror. So handy if you want to get a 360 degree view of yourself. The mirror over the vanity is double sided circle, that echoes the shape of the matching back to back sinks. The mirror is attached to the ceiling and to the vanity at the top and bottom with clear glass. You can see more pictures of this home here.
The picture below is of my own bathroom. What do you do if you have a window in front of your vanity? For window coverings, I love the look and feel of California shutters. I designed the room so that the sink was centered on the length of the window. I had the stile of the shutters made to line up perfectly with the center of the sink, then I had my glazier design a special mounting that would allow the mirror to be attached to the stile, while still allowing the shutters enough space behind the mirror to open and close. The mirror appears to be floating in front of the shutters. The end wall of the bathroom is also mirrored. The floors are quarter cut travertine, the vanity and ceiling light box is espresso stained rift oak, plumbing fixtures are Dornbracht, the toilet is designed by Phillipe Starck. The mirror reflects the wall of tile in my shower, which is made of pieces of glass tile and Crema Marfil marble
Mirrors in Dining Rooms:
This is a picture of the breakfast area in my own home. The mirror helps to enlarge this small space and bring in the view of the garden. By placing a lamp on the table in front of the mirror it creates the illusion that the room continues. The lamp also creates some drama and makes it a cozy spot to sit and linger in the evenings. You can read more here, where I talk about my Lucite lamp and mix of chairs.
The mirror in the picture below I designed and had built for my client's dining room. It perfectly reflects the magnificent Murano glass chandelier hanging over the custom built large square dining table. It also captures views of the adjoining living room for people that are sitting with their backs to it. When you are making mirrors this large make sure that they will fit through the front door. I made that mistake once and that was enough to learn a very valuable lesson: check and double check every detail!! The draperies are made of chocolate brown silk taffeta with a padded valance, the ceiling inset is lit around the perimeter and painted with gold leaf, the chairs are white ultra-leather with chrome nail studs just on the corners of the legs.
In the same home (as shown in the picture above) I placed a large mirror in the breakfast area: 1. To bring in views of the garden outside 2. To highlight the Phillipe Starck Ghost chairs around the table 3. To mirror and highlight the Italian designed lighting fixture hanging above the table. In small spaces mirrors can virtually double the existing space and create interesting vistas.
In the picture below I placed a mirror on the wall of the dining room to reflect the spectacular city skyline. When the clients dine in the evening, they don't need candles as the lights of the city sparkle and are reflected in the mirror.
Mirrors in Bedrooms:
In the bedroom below I placed a full height mirror for the client that she uses for a dressing mirror.
Mirrors over Desks:
My Desk - I have a vintage gold frame, that I have had forever, propped up against the wall. The arrangement in front of the mirror constantly changes, depending on my mood, the season, the flowers, the projects that I am working on. Right now I have branches from the garden with leaves that are just starting to turn that beautiful autumn color. I have stood one of my antique Thai dancer statues in front. The crystal chandelier is a new addition and I love the way that it is reflected in the mirror. The Picasso book is my cool new mouse pad. The picture below is from the spring with lovely orange Parrot tulips being reflected in the mirror. The picture below that is my desk piled up with samples and items that fill my desk on a daily basis.
This picture is from one of my all time favourite movies - The Devil wears Prada
Top row left to right: Araby Mirror by Ironies, www.beachdwelling.com, Z Gallerie
Second row left to right: Oly, Oly, Patent Mirror frame Vivre
Stay tuned for more in my on going series on "Mirror Magic"
Patricia Gray writes about Interior Design inspirations, emerging trends, and the world of Design.
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