I’m Obsessed With This Stylish, Trendy Throwback Mirror, and I Think You Should Be, Too

published Dec 12, 2021
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As someone who spends a significant amount of time browsing home tours online and keeping up with my favorite decor accounts on Instagram, I’m exposed to my fair share of design trends and styles. Sure, not every setup catches my eye to the same degree, but last year, I found myself constantly swooning over rooms with one type of accent piece in particular: the pier mirror.

Given that I love ornate, vintage-looking pieces, it makes total sense that pier mirrors began to catch my eye — long before I even knew what they were called, I might add. Home influencer Mallory Fletchall, whose space is pictured above, artfully incorporated a pier mirror into her Brooklyn apartment, and it really adds so much dimension and intrigue to the space. Plus, mirrors are more than aesthetically pleasing; they can make rooms look much larger and brighter, too — and who doesn’t want that?!

Pier mirrors date back to the 18th century, when their ability to make a room feel brighter really was key, due to a lack of electricity. They’re simply named for where they were hung in the home — the wall between two windows is referred to as a pier, and they were typically placed in parlors and other living areas. “Sometimes the mirrors were built into the architecture and mimicked the shape of the windows they sat between,” explains Alessandra Wood, a design historian and vice president of style at Modsy. “Other times, the mirrors were decorative accents hung on the wall.” One thing you could pretty much always count on seeing? Beautiful carved details like fluting, scrolls, and cornices.

Credit: Alexis Buryk

According to Wood, pier mirrors rose in popularity during the Victorian era. “With new industrial technology available to produce large mirrors at lower costs, they became much more accessible, which led to their growing popularity,” she says. Wood notes that over time, though, pier mirrors began to hang in other areas of the home. “During this era, architects and designers disassociated pier mirrors with being used only on a pier. We saw them used on large walls as furniture pieces and built into the interior architecture of entryways.” Once these mirrors began to be hung in new locales, they could be designed to be a bit wider in size, Wood adds. They also can come in a variety of finishes, from white and natural wood to antiqued gold and beyond.

If you’re in the market for a pier mirror of your own, do note that they’re quite expensive, especially if you’re going the true antique route. However, if styled well, they can appear original to an apartment unit, making them perfect for vintage-lovers or those living in a more modern space that doesn’t have as much character.

Not willing to spend upwards of $2,000? I feel you! I’ve had some luck searching for such pieces on eBay and Facebook Marketplace, and estate sale fanatics may wish to keep their eyes peeled, too. Try broadening your searches for similar but smaller pieces, which can help keep costs down. I’m even starting to see reproduction-inspired versions pop up in places like World Market and Wayfair, which can give you a similar look for less. I ended up purchasing two pier-like mirrors secondhand for my new apartment: One hangs between the two front-facing windows in the living room, and the other is in the exact same position in my bedroom. While my apartment may not date back to the 1800s, I have to admit that the setup looks pretty legit!