Forget horizontals and bevel edges: big verticals, ovals and small circles are the way to go. Here’s a rundown of the best shapes and where to source them: from up-to-the-minute looks to antiques. Support acts to star turns. Every space needs one! A great mirror will lighten a room, reflect views, add sparkle and instantly double the objects you own.
The Vertical Rectangle
This shape is one of the most popular due to its versatile, classic Georgian-style portrait shape that resembles a painting. Use it like a piece of art as a focal point above a mantle, sofa or console – to make the room appear bigger and taller. Don’t use a mirror as you would a picture. You don’t want people to exclaim; “Hey, that’s a nice mirror!” You want them to say: “This is a great room.’ It’s the first thing they’ll notice, but they should never notice it.
Try hanging two vertical mirrors on opposite walls in your living room to create depth, or one directly opposite a window to multiply the light. You won’t believe how much this can brighten up the whole room. Another classic trick: try a matching a pair hung above double washbasins in the bathroom for sure-fire chic. You can even cleverly position a mirror so that it actually looks like another window.
Generally, a big vertical mirror should reflect the best aspect of a room or a view, but don’t discount skinny panels in a hallway or entrance: they can make a cramped space feel grand, as well as give you something to reflect on as you go out to face the world.
Any discussion of small spaces needs to include the idea of using mirrors to create a greater sense of openness. Not only do they reflect light, they also reflect the view, thereby tricking the eye into perceiving more space.
This classic shape is quieter than a large round and softer than a rectangle, but it’s still a powerful design element, and one of our faves. Ovals are a natural above a console table in an entryway, or side table in a living room.
We also love ovals between two windows in the living area, giving the illusion of a third opening but breaking up all those straight lines. They also function brilliantly between two sconces in the dining room to reflect light from the chandelier.
Round mirrors can really anchor a room by creating a high-impact focal point. Go cool and edgy with a thin edge or no frame at all, or dramatic and glam with a snazzy, jewel-like frame. Adding one to the wall behind a desk turns the surface into an instant vanity. The secret? Hang them a little higher than you think.
The Small Round
Want an easy update? You can brighten things up with anything from a small midcentury piece to a romantic, elaborate number. They are an easy way to give a bland space individuality and polish. Pop one pretty much anywhere: between a couple of paintings on your living room wall; in a tiny powder room, a dark corner, even above a fave piece of art to take advantage of tall ceilings. A cluster of small round mirrors on a dining room wall, along a hallway, even above a sofa for a great alternative to the gallery wall.
One of our faves. If money is tight, it’s better to be extravagant with the quantity and canny with the quality (you can make anything look good if there’s enough). Use them as accents in your powder room, as punctuation marks over a console, or to bring a little extra glam into the bedroom. A favorite trick is to hang one in front of a window. If you’ve got a collection, hang them on a wall with the biggest and best in the middle and work outwards.
Don’t be scared. Antique mirrors bring presence, even grandeur to any room. They mix and match with everything, and one piece will go a long way. Multiple mirrors are often hung symmetrically (think: over a pair of nightstands) or used as part of an arrangement (like when clustered in a gallery wall), but for some reason, hanging multiple decorative mirrors in the same room is often a design no-no. A variety of mirrors in different styles placed on opposing or adjacent walls can visually enlarge your space while adding dimension to your design.
Try hanging glass on glass for a glamorous look. Say you have an antique French commode with a fab old gilt mirror put it against a mirrored wall to create a grand effect.
The Floor Mirror
And, yes, these do have their place. They can add height, an interesting visual focus, can energize an overlooked corner.A familiar sight in the boudoir, a tall mirror leaned against the wall is also transformative in the living room, a home office or anyone lucky enough to have a walk-in closet where it will give the illusion of extra space. Best buy: MCM House
The Arch Window
With their architectural outlines and occasional faux panes, these fabulous trompe l’oeil designs (original to fake) will open up a nook or create a dramatic ending to a hallway. In a room where the sofa’s back faces the windows, you can still have a view. Once you discover the magic of mirrors, don’t overdo it – it’s quite enough to treat one or two walls in your house or your apartment this way. I like to put a mirror at a dead end of a hallway, or opposite the window in a window-challenged room. Or to angle a mirror slightly, getting only the light and not the reflection. It’s also a classic above the fireplace- because it works- Marco Meneguzzi.