Without a looking glass a room is only half alive. From great sheets of glass that cover a whole wall to the tiny little Victorian nonsenses, framed in shells, that you sometimes come across in junk shops, they all have a part to play in adding a touch of glamour to a room. Mirrors are space-makers that are able to give the illusion of added dimension; decorators and reflectors of light; objects of light and beauty when properly used-but capable of appearing as ugly holes in the wall when their function is misunderstood or abused.
Mirrors as space-makers
Mirrors create space through illusion, by deluding you into believing that where you know there is a wall there is space. Properly used, these slabs of mirror make you feel that you could walk straight through them into an unexplored dimension. To do this successfully the mirror has to be placed where, structurally, if there were no wall, you could walk on. It is no good putting one beside a window which looks out over the garden. The mirror will reflect the room and, since the eye is no fool, it will do a double-take when it sees garden and room in the same dimension. For a moment you will be surprised, then you will realise the deception. But, placed on an inner wall where you could expect more rooms beyond, a mirror will have a quite different effect.
These deceivers should be used so that there is a reason for their end and their beginning. For maximum impact, they should begin at the floor (not at the skirting, because the floor should appear to run right into them), reach up to the ceiling and to the end of the wall on both sides. If you do not want a mirror that wide, or if it does not reach from wall to wall, you must provide a reason for its not doing so.
One way is to set the mirror into panels that cover the rest of the wall. These panels can either be made of wood or be papered to match the rest of the room. Another way is to curtain the rest of the wall, hanging the curtains on rings suspended on brass poles fixed at ceiling height. Both of these effects make the mirror appear to be an integral part of the wall, not an alter thought added at random. A large framed mirror will also be infinitely more satisfactory than fixing a plain sheet of glass to the wall. The framed image is very much more telling than that which, for no apparent reason, suddenly stops with the edge of the glass. You are dealing with illusions, remember. Line the alcoves on both sides of a fireplace with mirrors, from floor to ceiling and wall to wall, then-providing that you arrange your possessions so as to give a satisfying reflection-you will feel that you can walk straight past the chimney breast into the space beyond.
Or, if your living room seems to come to an abrupt end in a hard-looking wall, try putting a slab of glass in the middle of the offending wall. Set it in panels, or curtain up to its edges, possibly adding a swag or two of the material over the top, rearrange the furniture until the reflection pleases you, and your blank wall will disappear. This is a good treatment for a dead-end wall at the end of a hall. But if you do feel like covering one whole wall of your living room with mirror glass and this can be most effective-it is really better that it should be the wall behind the sitting area rather than the one facing it. k can be very distracting to have to watch your own reflected antics for an entire evening.