Tricks of the Trade: 5 Smart Ways To Use Mirrors In Small Spaces

Tricks of the Trade: 5 Smart Ways To Use Mirrors In Small Spaces

Leah Moss
Apr 10, 2012

Aside from soaring ceilings and gigantic windows, there is no better friend to a small space than a well-placed mirror. Expanding walls, amplifying light, breaking up visual clutter, mirrors can be used to solve most any design dilemma. Perhaps that's why we feature their awesomeness so often.

Not all of these examples hail from tiny spaces, but all the same tricks can be easily employed in these spaces' smaller sisters to similarly brilliant effect.

• Use a large floor length mirror behind a piece of furniture in tight spaces. Mirrors the same width of the furniture make the piece look purposeful and prominent rather than shoved in. Entry consoles are perfect places since in small homes they are usually tucked in wherever they'll fit. A large mirror in the landing strip area will also allow you the easy luxury of one last "once over" before you dash out the door. For safety, attach the mirror to the wall with brackets even if you are resting the mirror on the floor. (photos 1-3)

• Place a mirror behind a light source. Whether it's behind a candle, a pendant light, or a bedside lamp, a mirror will help to maximize the light's reach while creating an almost magical effect. (photos 4-5)

• Create another window by placing a mirror next to or across from the real deal. The reflection maximizes the effect of natural light and pleasant outdoor views, allowing you to appreciate them from multiple angles. (photo 6)

• Mirror wall! Yes, we've all seen this idea go disastrously wrong, but when used as a design element — rather than the stand alone, whole shebang (yes, I'm staring at you, 80s suburban townhouse) — they can be effective and pleasant rather than jarring and disorienting. In my opinion the key is using multiple similar small mirrors (in the same way you would use picture paneling), using large panels of antiqued mirrors (this breaks up the reflection and reads almost more like art than mirror), or framing the mirror with trim (this gives the mirror context rather than leaving you to figure out whether that's really a wall or another room. In a fun-house that's, well, fun, but in real life it can be disconcerting). (photo 7)

• Incorporate a mirror into a salon style art wall, on a patterned wall, or into a shelf arrangement. In general, I appreciate gallery style art groupings, but the idea can be tricky to implement in small rooms without making you feel claustrophobic. Pulling a mirror into the grouping provides a little visual breather. The same holds true when a mirror is placed on a wallpapered or boldly colored wall. Like a window, the mirror provides the airy dimension needed to keep the high volume of visual information from becoming overwhelming. Likewise, on a shelf, a mirror provides a pleasing contrast to row upon row of dense objects like books. (photos 8-10)

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(Images: 1: Style At Home, 2. Elle Decor, 3. Lonny Magazine via Apartment Therapy, 4. Leah Moss for Apartment Therapy, 5. House Beautiful, 6. Design*Sponge, 7. Jamie Foley Interiors via Apartment Therapy, 8. Modern Declaration, 9. Lonny, 10. Leah Moss)

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