Through the Looking Glass

Dali Seen from the Back Painting 
Gala Eternalized from the Back

The Salvador Dali painting above, like all mirror paintings, fascinates me. We only think what we see is our view, but what we always see in a mirror painting is the view of the subject seeing into the mirror.

No matter how we try, the painting absorbs us, and we see into it as if we were the subject. It’s a painter’s trick, and a powerful one.

Mirrors are powerful decorating accessories as well. They can make a room seem bigger, bring light in, alter a view, or reflect a bit of the owner’s personality. When adding mirrors or mirrored furniture to your home, consider what will be reflected and how the view will differ depending on the angle.

Try the mirror in various positions before hanging. Look into it from all the angles. And consider adjusting what’s reflected, where possible, to enhance the reflected view. These well-planned, mirrored rooms show what I mean.

1. The long and short of it…

These two photos are of the same living room–one close-up and one from the opposite end. The longer view makes it seem as if there’s a room beyond the fireplace. Closer in, the mirror reflects beautiful details of the room, created Holly Hollingsworth Phillips of The English Room. To see more Jim Schmid photos of this home and read about it, visit Charlotte Urban Home.

2. Sparks will fly…

Smaller mirror, smaller view, but the chandelier is a twinkling surprise. Think of the sparks that will fly when the sun comes into play, when lights are switched on at night, and again when lights switch off (wink-wink). See more photos and read about this home at Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles. The home itself was designed by Greg Palmer of Harrison Design Associates, and interiors are by Beth Webb of Beth Webb Interiors. Photo by Mali Azima.

3. Mirror, mirror, against the wall…

The wave-like frame of the mirror, propped casually against a wall, reflects an elegant burled chest, a Victorian chair and the sumptuously dressed canopy bed. The bed’s bulbous feet are mirrored as well and reflect the geometric patterns and colors of the carpet. Designer Jonathan Berger‘s goal in decorating this small Brooklyn townhouse was to make it seem larger. Read about this home and see more photos on House Beautiful.

4. Panes of reflection…

Hung close to the floor, this mirror reflects the diminutive vignette on the floor in front of it, as well as the elegant settee in the larger room and the arched pane French doors beyond. The divided panes of the mirror echo those of the doors and add abstracted interest to the reflected view.

5. Powder room for primping pooches…

I love how this mirror reflects the dog silhouettes in the wallpaper. Because the mirror is beveled, it distorts them a bit, creating a very unique work of art–all from a well-planned reflection. To have hung towels or any sort of pictures on the wall would have spoiled everything. I found this photo on The Velvet Fantastic.

6. Parsing a white wall…

Vintage mirrors hung in a sometimes crooked, sometimes overlapping collage, add architectural interest to a massive wall without taking away from the light, airy look of this dining room. The different shapes and sizes enhance the effect, and the glimpses we catch of books, furniture and other accessories gives the arrangement the feel of a pop art installation. Photos by Petra Bindel for Elle  Decoration UK.

7. Door-to-door-to-door….


You wouldn’t think a reflection of doors would be all that exciting. But this one is done with such symmetry and elegance that simple white woodwork puts on added appeal. The arabesque-shaped matching mirrors add to the architectural show, and who wouldn’t want to reflect all that gorgeous turquoise! Definitely head over to Home Bunch to see more of this home, designed by Jill Litner Kaplan Interiors. Photos are by Michael J. Lee.

8. Reflection of Arabian Nights…

Floor-to-ceiling mirrored quatrefoil panels form the headboard in this bedroom designed by Mabley Handler Interiors. The mouldings break up the reflected scene in much the same way as a harem screen, and the flowered panels are echoed in the medallions of the area rug. The mirror theme continues in accent tables, chairs and lamps. See more of the Mabley Handler’s work here.

9. A new spin on the mirrored closet door…

In a New York loft that lacked closet space, designer Steven Sclaroff added a mirrored wardrobe. “It’s a welcome hit of muted traditionalism,” he says. “It kind of looks like its own freestanding dressing room.” Having the mirror framed and broken up in panels lightens its weight. See more photos from this Tribeca home here. Photo by Francois Dischinger.

10. Like planting an extra garden…

This mirror makes the porch of a Florida home by designers Courtney Coleman and Bill Brockschmidt feel more like an actual room. An added benefit? It reflects the garden by day and candlelight and stars by night. Sofa by Smith & Hawken, carpet by Madeline Weinrib and photo by Simon Upton. Check out more photos of this home here. See more of Brockschmidt and Coleman’s portfolio here.

These last two photos were tagged in a House Beautiful article “10 Unique Ways to Decorate with Mirrors.” Follow the link for more ideas.
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