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Decorating With Mirror Frames: Using Big, Bold Mirrors As Artwork

On this blog, we’ve talked about decorating with mirrors once or twice in the past. After all, mirrors are great for enhancing light, make small spaces seem bigger, and take some of the stress out of trying to find perfectly matching wall art. But while mirrors are often great because they blend in, you can get all these benefits and more from mirrors designed to stand out. That includes mirrors with shaped, patterned, or tiled surfaces. But for today I want to look specifically at really ornate mirror frames.

Framed vs Frameless Mirrors

When you’re talking mirrors for a bathroom, the big debate is usually between large frameless mirrors and smaller framed ones. In other words, how much mirror coverage you want versus how much style. But when you’re looking at accent mirrors, “frameless” rarely means a wall-to-wall rectangle. Rather, frameless accent mirrors are typically self-framing: done in an unusual shape, or even with the lines of a “frame” etched along the edges of the mirror face. Framed mirrors are more common, but also much more varied, ranging from dead simple rail frames to hugely ornate designs that are a work of art in and of themselves.

Choosing A Mirror Frame That Stands Out

It can be tempting to look for a mirror that matches your existing decor, either in terms of wood type, color, or even thematic or design elements. But except in the case of really strong themes (like a nautical living room or ranch bedroom), finding a mirror that’s a good match likely means settling for one that blends in. Instead, think of your mirror frame as a piece of art in its own right. Big, bold frames are eye catching even without the mirror, and make a great sculptural alternative to more conventional paintings and prints.

Get A Little Abstract

If you’re used to thinking of mirrors as purely functional, treating them as an art piece can feel like quite a leap. The good news is, there are a lot of options out there, and a good mirror frame will do most of the heavy lifting for you. If you’re not sure where to start, think abstract rather than themed. While a ship wheel or porthole mirror might be just the thing for a certain room, a starburst, lattice, or geometric weave pattern will give you a little bit of flair that isn’t dependent on the room’s style.

Add Some Antique Flair

If an abstract look isn’t your thing, you might want to borrow an antique design instead. Historically, the frames on paintings and portraiture have been just as much works of art as what’s on the canvas, with elaborate woodwork and beautiful gilded detailing. Antique-inspired mirror frames lend you this sense of glamour and grandeur – without having to start your own art collection! Better still, modern manufacturing processes make it possible to avoid the artisan price tag without sacrificing detail or quality. Plus, depending on the finish you choose, these ornate mirror frames can either bring a hefty dose of traditional sophistication… or make a very daring modern statement piece.

Many Mini Mirror Frames

Keep in mind, if you’re decorating with mirrors in a space where they aren’t purely functional, you don’t need to worry about the mirror itself being too small, or even the reflection being clear. Many decorative mirrors are actually several smaller mirrors fixed in a large, ornate frame. These aren’t great for fixing your hair or checking your teeth, but are perfect for brightening up a low-light space. Ditto for mirrors with hazy, antique glass; imperfect mirrors actually pass better as artwork, while still giving you a subtle room-brightening effect.

Expand Your Space With A Floor Mirror

On the flip side, while functional mirrors typically need to be about face-sized and hung at about face-height, when you’re using them as decor, you can get a little more creative with size and placement. One popular option right now is to take full-height dressing mirrors and simply lean them against a wall. While this might seem like a half-hearted way to decorate (or even half-finished), the effect is actually quite nice. Slightly angling a floor mirror helps reduce the sometimes-jarring effect of having a large, reflective surface in your living room. Add to that a really ornate mirror frame and you get a look that’s posh and elegant, but not too overwrought for a casual gathering space.

Done right, mirrors can be so much more than merely functional. A bold, beautiful mirror frame can add style and elegance to just about any room- whether or not you need an extra place to peek at your reflection!