Here’s Proof That Mirrored Walls and Doors Can Actually Look Good

updated May 3, 2019
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(Image credit: Chinasa Cooper)

You’ve seen them, I know you have. The sad, mirrored walls, or maybe sliding closet doors, the ones that were intended to be signs of disco-era extravagance but that can now read a a little sad and tawdry. They’re all over a certain kind of ’70s and ’80s condo. I always thought that mirrored walls were just plain bad. I thought that until I started doing research for this post, and discovered that actually, mirrored walls can look very nice. It’s a design idea that’s very often misunderstood.

I was confused by my attraction to these mirrored walls, but also intrigued, because I love a good comeback story, and also because I once had a kitchen with a mirrored backsplash which I unapologetically loved, so I know what a lovely touch mirrors can add to a space, particularly a small space. For each of these spaces I’ve asked myself —what makes this work so well?—so you can get some ideas for recreating the look in a way that isn’t 70s-era stuffy.

Hang a framed mirror and nobody will blink an eye. A full-wall mirror is a much harder sell. One way to make this look elegant, and not dated, is to add a frame around the mirror, breaking it into sections like a wall panel. This looks especially nice in more traditionally-styled spaces, like this room from Bruce Bierman Design. This mirror starts a short distance above the floor and stops below the roof beams, becoming part of the architecture of the room. (It’s also a very nice way to reflect the view on the other side.)

On a more accessible note, this IKEA hack from Braun + Adams used framed mirrors on the front of a PAX wardrobe, a project inspired by Little Green Notebook’s similar makeover.

(Image credit: Marie-Lyne Quirion)

The owners of this Scandinavian home doubled down on the sliding glass mirrored doors, which turn the corner and create a whole “hall of mirrors” effect that’s quite luxe looking.

This bathroom from Ty Larkins Interiors via Houzz uses paneled mirrors to great effect. The antiqued look adds texture and is a nice complement to a more traditional space.

(Image credit: IKEA)

IKEA’s most recent catalog featured this wall, which was created from a series of smaller mirrors. It’s an inexpensive way to get a high-impact look without spending a lot of money.

The mirrors in this apartment by Joseph Dirand are fitted into the wall panels, and become part of the paneling system. Thin frames break up the large stretches of mirror for a more elegant look.

(Image credit: Nathan Schroder)

A mirrored closet door can really open up a small bedroom. The door in this photo from Coats Homes is also a rolling barn door, but the detailing here is a bit more traditional. In this case it conceals a study nook, but this would work well for a closet, too.

(Image credit: Farrow & Ball)

Here’s something you maybe never knew you needed — a mirrored French door. Painted in dark colors and with sliding mirrored panels, this door in a space from Farrow & Ball is so elegant it’s hard to believe it conceals a closet.

(Image credit: Marisa Vitale)

Of course, if you’re stuck with those sliding mirror doors, consider sprucing them up with a little spray paint. These gold-toned ones actually work very well with the pink sofa in Matt and Cindy’s minimal, tailored home.

What do you think—are you convinced? Or is this a trend that’s better left in the past?