Always Sunny: Sunburst Mirrors as Decor

Having needed to move all my clocks forward an hour for Daylight Savings (an archaic and painful task), I’ve been trying to think about the positives of losing an hour of sleep. For instance, more of the day now has the potential to be sunny! This got me thinking about sunlight as a whole, and a growing awareness of its image in the form of decorative mirrors. Where did the trend of sunburst mirrors come from? Why does everyone seem to have one? Is this lasting decor or a passing fad?

The Sun as a Motif

While not being a one-to-one lookalike to the actual sun, a sunburst design gets the iconography across very efficiently (by Space Harmony)

The sunburst has been a design repeated throughout most of history for things or people that are important or holy. In art depicting halos, kings, gods, or even a good harvest, a ring of gold lines circle the most important part of the composition. It’s an easy shorthand in art, which translates to this day as a recognizable symbol. Looking at one of these mirrors, you know it’s meant to be the sun even if the literal sun doesn’t look like that (a plain gold circle would be more accurate, but boring). And while it may seem self-centered now to place a mirror at the center of sun art based on its history of showing importance, quality mirrors were a technological revolution when introduced.

Why Mirrors?

While a sunburst mirror can’t produce light itself, it can reflect natural daylight throughout your home to make it brighter (by Centsational Girl)

More than any other type of home decor, you can find sunbursts on mirrors. Why this accent? The mirror itself is rarely in a place where it can be used functionally to see yourself. That is, if you assume that mirrors are only useful in that way. The answer to this particular question makes sense within the design itself. People crave natural lighting, but big windows facing a good cardinal direction are rare. A strategically placed mirror will reflect any light you do get around the room, brightening the entire space without needing to turn on the lamps. And in areas where there is a strong day and night cycle between seasons, sunlight is a hot commodity.

The Rise and Popularity of the Sunburst

Sunbursts not only compliment other furniture in a room for a cohesive feeling, but also other sunburst designs as well (by SuzAnn Kletzien Design)

How can something so simple be so popular? After all, there are plenty of decorative mirrors in the world, but the sunburst in particular endures. This is because on a technical level, sunbursts are a universal safe pick for home decor. They’re a good use of both positive and negative space on both cluttered and bare walls. They have detail and nuance, but aren’t overwhelming to look at. They draw both light and your attention. These mirrors are usually a neutral warm metal, which fits well with most room palettes. They’ve been popular for so long that nostalgia is now a factor as well. Many people have inherited these mirrors from beloved relatives, or seek to find a replica in their honor. If you aren’t sure what to put on your walls, a sunburst mirror isn’t a bad starting point.

More Than Just a Pretty Face

Being an ideal shape, it’s only natural to adapt the sunburst design into other decor (by AWH Photo & Design)

Whether people have tired of sunburst mirrors or want more decor to match them, you can find sunbursts in other areas of the home nowadays as well. Wall clocks are an easy, practical substitution with a little added functionality. They do the same job centering any room they’re in, but also tell analog time in case of a power outage. Flush mount light fixtures now come in angular, sunny designs to illuminate the room both literally and metaphorically. Many gardens have durable, smiling suns with faces to add just a little decor when your flowers are out of season.

Will Sunburst Design Finally Set?

Starlight Mirrored Brass Wall Decor, 04304 by Uttermost

Some see the variation in burst designs as a sign that sunburst mirrors have hit their peak. All trends have a natural beginning and end. We’re seeing levels of innovation in the design that suggests that the old spindly shape no longer holds interest. We’re also seeing a lot of the same designs renamed as “starburst,” “starlight,” and “sunflower.” People seemingly don’t want to be associated with the sunburst anymore. But renaming the design without changing it means the sun motif is just as everlasting as ever; if anything, it’s seeking a wider audience.

While the details and names may continue to change, this doesn’t appear to be a design fading away anytime soon.