Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Mirror mirror on the wall, let me have a spacious hall

Originally published in the Retford Times 23rd Jan 2014

In the dull January light, our homes can look a little lack lustre - Interior Designer Jamie Hempsall looks at putting the shine back.

With the Christmas Decorations packed away our homes can often feel dark and under-dressed at this time of the year.  To avoid the January blues it is important to try and maximise natural light wherever possible.

The ultimate way to bring more light in to your home is to knock down a wall to the outside!  However, you can achieve a similar effect by creating an entire mirror wall (using a mosaic of large mirror pieces to add interest). Visually extending your room not only adds light, but also promotes a feeling of space and wellbeing.

Antiqued glass helps to soften the look to make this feature work well in period homes. Work on a design with your glass merchant for an individual finish and incorporate off-cuts to keep the cost down.
If considering DIY installation be aware of sharp edges and handle your mirror with gloves whilst fixing. Ensure you have well prepared flat walls and only use mirror adhesive. Take your time and let each piece set in place before adding more. It may take a while, but the end result will be worth it.

The most important skill of any mirror in an interiors scheme is to reflect light. Placed opposite an existing window the mirror will introduce addition exterior light into the room. This is particularly useful in rooms with only one good natural light source.  It will also help brighten dark corners at the ends of long rooms. An added bonus from using mirrors in this way is the introduction of a window view on a wall that might otherwise hold little interest.
A light placed in front of a mirror will be amplified, throwing more light back into the room than the original source could give on its own. This light will possess a diffused, more forgiving quality that is useful for hiding a multitude of sins in older properties.
Placing a mirror on a wall opposite a door also increases the perception of space within a room as it immediately draws the eye of anyone entering the room when they see a moving reflection. In turn, they will get a feeling that the room extends beyond the end of the wall that they are looking at. You can use this effect to even out the feel of long, thin rooms (placing mirrors on the walls that are the shortest distance apart will lead people to assume that the room is actually wider).

You can also extent the feeling of a short or dark landing by placing a tall, ideally wide, mirror at its end. Add a contemporary feel by using a large mirror with a thick frame (think leather or high gloss) and merely resting this at an angle against the wall, rather than hanging it up - this also works well in any dressing area, where space allows, as a funky alternative to a free standing mirror.
On a final practical note, old houses always afforded inhabitants the courtesy of a mirror directly inside the front door - allowing guests arriving a chance to check their look was intact and anyone leaving to ensure they can face the world, head held high. These days it may be more practical in a downstairs cloakroom, but none the less it is a mirror worth re-introducing if you do not have one already.          

Jamie Hempsall, BIID, SBID is a multi-award winning interior designer.

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