Designing with Mirrors

Use mirrors to reflect your style and taste while opening up new vistas.

Everyone knows that mirrors are useful, but did you know they can also solve a wide range of decorating dilemmas? You can use mirrors to make a room look bigger, to bring a lovely outdoor scene inside, to reflect light in alluring patterns and to fill a void on a wall. A mirror won’t clash with furniture like a painting or photograph, and it can blend with any theme, from the simplest country home to the most upscale contemporary design.

Restaurant and nightclub owners have long used mirrors to create a mood. To attract customers, they place them strategically behind the bar to highlight the lights shining among the bottles. Mirrors often line exclusive dining establishments, where dim, provocative lighting reflects enough so patrons can still see their food and their companions while sharing the intimacy of both. You can duplicate this effect at home: place a mirror in your dining room and turn down the lights!

Apartment and condominium developers often rely on mirrors to provide the illusion of space and largess.  Walk into an empty condo with mirrors lining the walls, and you’ll feel as if you’ve just walked into a mansion. Full-length mirrors in tiny spaces make the walls look taller. Hang them sideways to create a wider feel to any room.

Another trick is to strategically place a mirror near your front door so you can quickly check your makeup and hair or straighten your tie before leaving the house. A mirror hung opposite a doorway can let you see the three-year-old trying to sneak up on you. And full-length mirrors on opposite sides of a closet or bathroom provide for a full 360-degree inspection.

Although a frame-less mirror can accent many interiors, a framed mirror offers another way to add a dramatic, elegant, or rustic touch to your decor. Look for a plain black or brushed chrome frame to set off the clean lines of a contemporary setting. If you lean toward the more traditional, use ornate dark wood frames to match the elegance of your furniture. Rustic frames made from reclaimed wood highlight the natural elements of your home. Placing a large mirror framed in natural wood tones over your mantle complements your fireplace, anchoring it as the room’s focal point.

For decorative purposes, the height of a mirror is not that important, but for practical purposes, you should hang a mirror so that your eyes reflect in the middle of the mirror. Make adjustments as needed so that everyone in your family can see themselves without having to bend down.

Use mirrors to open up a closed-in space.

If you don’t trust your instincts for design, here are a few standard rules for hanging a wall mirror:

  • The top of a mirror should be no less than six feet above the floor.
  • Keep at least 18 inches between the bottom of the mirror and the floor.
  • Don’t place any mirror in front of lights. The glare will make it difficult to see the reflection.
  • Leave three to four feet of empty space in front of a mirror so you have enough room to step back to get a fuller view.
  • A bathroom mirror should not be wider than the vanity. Center the mirror over the vanity, not to the wall dimensions.
  • When hanging a heavy mirror, use a drywall anchor if you can’t find a stud.

If you have questions about how best to place a wall mirror in your home, stop by one of our three locations and ask one of our consultants.

Calm Your Decorating Nerves….And see a professional

You know what you like. Or do you? Many consumers feel ill-equipped to put together a room so that it smacks of style and beauty. Men and women alike can throw an outfit on and accessorize with the best of the fashionistas, but when it comes to their homes, they consider themselves neophytes who can do little more than place a sofa flat up against a wall.

There are basic rules of thumb you can follow if you don’t trust your decorator instincts. For example, hanging pictures at eye level, hiding electronic cords and using a rug that’s at least as wide as your largest piece of furniture are design basics that can guide your decorating plans.  But when it comes to following trends, mixing your antiques with new acquisitions or trying new colors, if you feel like you’d rather sit on beanbag chairs on the floor than try something new, it may be time to call in a professional.

North Carolina has no laws governing the interior design profession, but local designers who take courses and learn the fine art of interior placement are the only ones allowed to tout professional credentials. Interior design education provides students with training in design technicalities, furniture layout, lighting and electrical specifications and the nuances of spatial relationships. A few designations you might see and recognize include the ASID, or American Society of Interior Designers or the IDS, the credentials assigned by the Interior Design Society. For designers to be able to list those initials after their names, they must pass rigorous examinations and maintain their certification with continuing education courses.

Interior decorators, on the other hand, primarily deal with color, style and the aesthetics of a room. Their primary focus is helping you choose furniture, rugs and accessories. Many people with a flair for decorating call themselves interior decorators. They too can carry professional certifications however such as the CID credentials, which stand for Certified Interior Decorator, received after decorators complete a series of courses and exams.

Professional designers and decorators can provide you with a cursory consultation that leaves you with a list of ideas and suggestions or they can participate in the entire process, from hiring your subcontractors, choosing the fabrics for your upholstery and buying your rugs and accessories. A professional often comes up with ideas you may never have thought of and gives you guidance about what materials might work best for your lifestyle.

Sure, you can ask a friend whose home decorating you admire, but beware of complications that can arise when your tastes bump heads. You can ruin a good relationship by trying to decorate together. If you really feel that you need help, stick instead to a professional who will tell you the truth. If you don’t like the advice, you can change designers; it’s a lot harder to fire a friend.

The best time to hire a designer or decorator is at the beginning of your room makeover. Once you start down a path, it can be difficult to make changes without eating up your initial budget. Retailers such as Rug & Home do spend considerable time training their associates in the kinds of home furnishings they sell, but they rarely come to your home to help you make your plans.

The bottom line is that just because you don’t feel comfortable remodeling a worn-out room, even if it’s just replacing your Oriental rugs with contemporary colors, you need not be alone. The Carolinas are rife with professional designers who can work with you as little or as much as you desire.

Trend Alert: Script Your Life with Home Furnishings!

Everywhere you look these days in home furnishings and interior design magazines, you will notice a trend: chests, chairs, rugs, and many other pieces are adorned with lettering and words to create a romantic, ode-to-France kind of look.

Perhaps the appeal of this style is the personal feeling that handwritten messages bring in this digital world, or maybe these pieces fulfill the dream of love letters for single and married women alike!  Whatever the reason may be, you will find words and scripts in various forms from English poems, to French quotes, to more urban-looking phrases.

A great way to incorporate this look into your own home is with a single piece to become the focal point of any room!

Use a chest like this to dress up a bedroom, foyer, or even as an elegant focal piece in the living room with a gorgeous pair of lamps on top!

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