Up until two years ago, I never gave mirrors a second thought. As a brash 21 year-old with his first apartment, I always just presumed mirrors came with a house and were positioned purely for functional purposes. I was design-ignorant, and my flat showed it.
Fast forward two years, and I’d like to think that I’m a bit more au fait with the complexities of design; partly because I now take pride in my home, and partly because my home was a nightmare to navigate through.
Living in a small apartment (my bank account roughly follows the trajectory of my design knowledge; non-existent at first but steadily improving) also meant that I had to learn how to utilise mirrors to stop myself from feeling cramped and going slightly mad.
In this blog post, I’m going to share some of the knowledge I’ve gained over the past two years, a turbulent time in which a cramped one-bedroom apartment has slowly become a home other people might even consider living in – all thanks to mirrors.
Use large mirrors to create space
When you live in a small apartment, all you want is a bit more space. Unfortunately, the reason you live in a small apartment is probably that you don’t have much money; certainly not the kind of money involved in knocking through a few walls. If you rent your apartment from a landlord, you probably don’t have permission for that kind of thing either!
Mirrors, and a wee bit of visual trickery, provide the perfect solution. Using reflections and tactical positioning, you can feasibly double the size of your room (to the mind’s eye, at least). Simply place a mirror at a point which captures as much of your room as physically possible; the larger the mirror you have at your disposal, the more effective this technique is going to be.
Light also plays a big part in this illusion, so try and reflect either a light fitting or a window for the maximum benefits. If you opt for the latter, be aware that you’ll be faced with whatever is located outside of your window; if you live opposite a garbage dump, it’s probably not the best idea!
Bathroom mirrors shouldn’t be boring
Living as I had in a comfortable existence for 21 years prior to moving into my first apartment, I had always considered bathroom mirrors to be a functional piece of equipment akin to the toilet or the sink; a necessity that had to be there, rather than a lavish attention-seeking extra.
Upon moving into my apartment, I soon realised that bathroom mirrors aren’t just important visually – they’re actually the focal point of the entire room. While guests might not be bothered about your brand new gold taps, I can guarantee they’ll look into your mirror. And if your mirror happens to be a toothpaste-specked rectangle of smeared glass, it’s fair to say they won’t be visiting again soon.
To get the most of your bathroom, you need to express yourself with your mirrors. Like abstract art? Invest in an oddly-shaped mirror! Your bathroom follows a ‘seaside’ colour palette? Buy a mirror shaped like a sun! It’s simple really; express yourself through your mirror. Oh, and if you have a lot of toiletries, consider investing in a mirrored cabinet instead.
Don’t place a mirror in a distracting location
I’ve touched on this earlier in the post, but used wrong, mirrors can be extremely distracting. In my own bedroom, I had a mirror directly facing the bed. At first, it was fine, but when reading a book or watching a movie, I’d catch a glimpse of myself and realise I look weird when concentrating. Or I’d see a mark on the wall. Or a fly buzzing around. It started to ruin my experience of the room, and the mirror was soon moved to a more appropriate location.
The same goes if your mirror happens to reflect a street; passers-by might catch your eye and it can be extremely distracting. So, before you place your mirror, give a little thought to what’s going to be reflected. If it’ll be distracting to your everyday life, move your mirror!
Complement the room, don’t overwhelm it
A mirror should never be the focal point of a room that doesn’t have a fully functioning toilet or shower. Mirrors in the dining room, living room or bedroom should complement the room rather than overwhelming it – in most instances, a single mirror should suffice. A wall full of mirrors might sound appealing, but in practice it would be extremely distracting.
The same goes for decor. While Renaissance-era mirrors might be just the kind of opulent decor you’re into, it’ll stick out like a sore thumb if your home is an ode to minimalism. Think ahead, and plan your mirror around your room rather than the other way round.
Place a mirror by your front door
Ever left the house after undertaking an immaculate grooming regime, got to work and realised your hair fell out of place the moment you left the bathroom? Here’s your solution; a mirror placed next to your front door. Ideal for a last minute check and warding off potential workplace embarrassment.
So those are some of the mirror-utilising tips I’ve picked up over the past two years. Of course, I’m by no means an expert so I’d love it if you could share some of your tips with me in the comments below!
Christopher Smith is a writer currently working with Illuminated Mirrors, a leading supplier of bathroom mirror cabinets and where Christopher learnt most of his mirror knowledge. When not writing, Christopher is working on one of his many ‘in progress’ DIY projects (expected completion date: erm…)