13 Ways Decorating With Mirrors Can Transform Your Space
Strategic placement of mirrors can help you accentuate your home's best features—like natural light and stunning artwork—and deemphasize its shortcomings.
Mirrors have long been used in interior design as an element of style and to improve the function of a space. Farah Merhi, style expert for Designer Looks Furniture, says, “No matter the size of your room, mirrors are a perfect addition that can make your space not only look brighter but feel bigger and airier.” While mirrors have many potential benefits, it’s important to place them correctly in order to make the biggest impact. Want to learn how to decorate with mirrors effectively? Heed advice from these design pros.
1. Make the Space Feel Larger
Mirrors are a great way to create the illusion of a larger space, and they can be used in many ways to make a room feel more open and welcoming. In a small space, an oversized mirror can have a major impact, visually increasing the size of any room. An over-the-door mirror is an excellent way to make ceilings seem higher, while an entryway mirror can immediately make a home feel spacious when guests enter.
2. Reflect Natural Light
One of the ways in which a mirror helps to make a space feel larger is by reflecting light. Many of the design professionals we spoke with recommended using mirrors to reflect windows in order to inject more natural light into a space. Interior designer Steven Hill, who founded DIY Gazette, says, “Positioning a mirror near a window will help to reflect light and make the room feel brighter.”
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3. Make a Hallway Look More Spacious
Many hallways—especially in older homes—tend to be quite narrow and can feel confining if not decorated carefully. Stephany Smith, a home improvement expert and interior designer at Fantastic Services, recommends mirrors as a tool for visually expanding the width of a hallway, saying, “Place identical mirrors alongside the hallway wall to make it look broader.”
4. Avoid Creating Visual Clutter
Decorative wall mirrors do an excellent job of making a room feel more spacious, but if placed incorrectly, they can actually cause unwanted visual clutter. Tara Spaulding, interior design coordinator for Patio Productions, cautions, “Don’t put a mirror directly across from another mirror—that will create an infinite reflection that will make the room look smaller.” If you want to put mirrors on opposing walls, she says, “hang them at different heights, so they don’t reflect each other.”
5. Choose the Right Height
The height at which you hang a mirror on a wall will have a major impact on how well it achieves its purpose. As a general rule, the center of the mirror should be approximately 60 inches from the floor, which will place it at eye level for most people.
6. Follow Feng Shui Principles
Leigh Spicher, interior designer and director of design for Ashton Woods, recommends considering the rules of feng shui as guidelines. She says, “In feng shui, there is a general principle that mirrors will quite literally reflect and amplify the energy in a space.” In practice, this means reflecting positive images rather than negative ones. Spicher adds, “Be cautious about placing them in bedrooms because, in the practice of feng shui, there is a belief that mirrors can create energy and may lead to disruptive sleep patterns.”
7. Create a Gallery Wall
While a single hanging mirror can make a major statement, a collection of smaller decorative mirrors can also be used to create a gallery wall effect. Choose mirrors with similar features, like frames of a similar shape or color, in order to make the look cohesive. Or, pair new mirrors with vintage finds for an eclectic look.
8. Choose the Right Frame
While the mirror itself may be the focus, its frame also matters when it comes to aesthetics. Mirrors can add texture to a space when their frames are made from rustic wood or woven materials, or can be used to inject a touch of glam if they have metallic frames. A mirror’s frame should coordinate with other accents in the space in order to maintain a cohesive aesthetic.
9. Achieve an Ambient Glow
While many are aware of the benefits of using mirrors to enhance natural light, they can also be used to create nighttime ambiance when paired with candlelight. Stacy Lewis, owner and interior designer at Eternity Modern, says, “Mirrors in dining rooms pair well with a display of candlelight. It makes a great focal point and adds whimsy to your dining area.”
10. Go Big
When choosing the right mirror for a space, scale is also important. Alex Sallenger of Alex Sallenger Design, says, “I find that a lot of people use mirrors that are too small for the space they’re in. When in doubt, go larger.” Use a large mirror that fills up a significant portion of the wall it’s placed on. When choosing a floor mirror, ensure it’s tall enough to reflect the user’s entire height.
11. Be Careful What You’re Reflecting
The exact placement of a mirror is a key consideration in order to ensure the reflection is visually pleasing. “It’s important to consider what you’re reflecting,” says Pamela O’Brien of Pamela Hope Designs, “Doubling the impact of a beautiful piece of art or a charming window is a design win, whereas reflecting a blank wall is less visually exciting.”
12. Don’t Create a Distraction
While mirrors can add the illusion of space and light to many areas of the home, there are some areas that don’t actually benefit from the addition of a mirror because they can be distracting. According to interior designer Nishtha Sadana, “it’s not ideal to place them opposite your bed or in the home office or study area.”
13. Dress Up the Outdoors
While mirrors are common in interior spaces, many home decorators forget that they can be employed outdoors as well. Those with small balconies or patios can make their outdoor living spaces feel larger by installing a large round mirror on an exterior wall. Depending on the style you choose, an outdoor mirror can also help define the space’s visual identity.
…And Always Keep ‘Em Clean
Mirrors reflect light most effectively when they look spic and span, so cleaning your mirror regularly is essential. Avoid streaks by using a microfiber cloth along with a household cleaner that’s designed for windows and mirrors.