13 clever ways with mirrors

a hallway with a window and a sink
13 mirror decorating ideasCathy Nordström

Other than being well positioned for a final outfit check before leaving home, mirrors are clever design features which can be used to add impact and create the illusion of more space.

Especially useful in rooms that lack natural light, mirrors can instantly make a tiny space feel open and airy simply by the reflection of light. Plus, did we mention just how much style and character a mirror can bring to your room?

'Mirrors are the easiest decor item to incorporate into your space, transforming the perception of a space through shape, style or placement,' says Clotilde Passalacqua, interior design manager at Ikea UK and Ireland.

If you're stuck for inspiration, here are 13 clever ways to use mirrors in your home and give it that 'wow' factor.

1) Hang above the mantelpiece

Hang a large mirror horizontally above the mantel and between alcove cabinets for instant impact and to make a room feel bigger. 'A well-chosen shape and design can add a great deal of character to a room,' says Garret Harper, designer at Bespoke Carpentry London.

Be sure to position this at the right height and avoid placing it too high over the fireplace. The general rule of thumb is to ensure the space between the mantel and the bottom of the mirror is four to six inches.

a fireplace in a room
A gold asymmetrical mirror creates impact above a mantelpiece by Bespoke Carpentry LondonAnita Taraniuk

2) Reflect a room with a view

Use a mirror to reflect the view from one side of the room to another, which works brilliantly in bedrooms and living rooms. Think carefully about what you want your mirror to reflect – artwork, shelving, lighting, houseplants, furniture, a feature wall?

Another useful way is to carefully position a mirror so that it reflects another room, so for example, a mirror placed above the fireplace in a living room with a view of the hallway.

We'd recommend choosing a mirror to suit your style of your space, but Danielle Le Vaillant, head of photography & film at Cox & Cox, prefers mirrors with a window-style frame: 'Position them to provide a reflected vignette of a favourite angle of a room indoors or view of the garden outdoors. And of course, this is the obvious choice of mirror frame for windowless rooms.'

a living room with a fireplace
Holland Park residential project, Studio DugganStudio Duggan

3) Make a small room appear bigger and brighter

This is the oldest trick in the book, but mirrors can instantly make a small space appear bigger, and brighten a dark room.

A general rule of thumb is to strategically place large mirrors near a light source or opposite a window to reflect and amplify natural lighting. 'A strategically placed mirror can instantly make a space appear larger and more open,' says Sam Greig, senior designer at Swoon. 'By reflecting light and bouncing it around the room, mirrors create an illusion of depth and can make even the smallest of rooms feel more spacious.'

Alternatively, place table lamps or a floor lamp next to a mirror for a similar effect. For best results, use ambient or warm lighting instead of cool white, so it doesn’t have an overwhelming glare once reflected.

a clock on a wall
Apartment mirror, DunelmDunelm

4) Make it round

'A mirror above a sofa or large sideboard will create a striking focal point, while also adding depth making the room feel more expansive,' says Lisa Jones, editorial design manager at Dunelm. 'It’s also worth considering choosing a mirror that fits the wall and doesn’t overwhelm the space, by complementing the room's scale. Round mirrors add a touch of softness and work in traditional and contemporary spaces.'

living room transformation makeover by topology professional and affordable interior designers in south east london uk

5) Create a striking focal point

Similar to a feature or statement wall in a room, you can create a focal point with a decorative mirror, which will also give your room character and visual interest.

'Make a statement mirror the focus of your "style spot",' agrees Jane Rockett and Lucy St George of Rockett St George. 'Whether it's above a sideboard, console table or mantelpiece, it adds the finishing touch to your carefully curated collection of ornaments and accessories.'

6) Create a mirror gallery

Essentially, a mirror gallery is a curated group of accent mirrors to create visual interest in a room. You can lean them against a wall or shelf, or hang them. If the latter, plan your layout by placing all mirrors on the floor in the position that you want. Start in the centre before moving onto the other surrounding mirrors, and of course, ensure it is safely secured to the wall.

'A gallery-style wall of mismatched smaller mirrors can create a beautiful effect with multiple reflections creating a lively, sociable atmosphere that’s perfect for rooms you entertain in, such as the sitting or dining room,' says Danielle.

From coastal to jewel-toned, you can combine different themes to create a unique and striking mirror gallery that will instantly spruce up a blank wall, and impress your guests.

a door with a metal frame and a metal frame with a metal frame
Combine different styles to create a mirror gallery. Shop at Cox & CoxDanielle Le Vaillant / Cox & Cox

7) Add dimension to staircases

Staircases can often be forgotten about but narrow staircases in particular can feel quite dark and enclosed. Mirrors, of course, offer a clever way to open up a space, adding extra light and more dimension. 'If your staircase is more on the narrow side, incorporating mirrors along the wall is a great way to make it appear wider, as well as adding an element of elegance,' says Sam.

Another idea is to hang a large or full-length wall mirror opposite the foot of the stairs – this will reflect the stairs going up, and create more depth, which in turn will make it feel less claustrophobic.

8) Make a DIY mirrored wall

A contemporary way to spruce up a blank wall DIY-style, is to go for a mirrored wall. Mirroring a whole wall gives the optical illusion that there is more room to move around, and makes it feel airy. It can even make low ceilings seem taller.

'For something simpler, build a dedicated mirrored wall to your own taste and is completely customisable, as you can simply stick as many mirrors as you’d like to the wall using the double-sided tape,' says Clotilde.

dining room with mirrored wall
Blodlönn mirrored wall, IkeaIkea

9) Hide imperfections

If you want to hide minor wall imperfections, mirrors are a clever way to disguise these without having to repaint the wall. Remember, decorating with mirrors doesn't always have to be conventionally rectangular or square. Opt for a geometric or a statement design that can make a stunning wall accent or focal point. Or you find styles that can come in sets of three or even five.

a vase with a plant in it
Circle link mirror in antique gold, PookyPooky

10) Opt for mirrored doors

If you don't want to place oversized mirrors everywhere, why not opt for mirrored doors? Typically suited for bedrooms, sliding wardrobe doors can really open up a space and make even more of a feature of your bed. You could also invest in a handy storage cupboard with mirrored sliding doors.

a room with a glass door and a bed

11) Make it a mirrored splashback

We tend to use ceramic, natural stone tiles or marble splashbacks for our kitchens and bathrooms, but mirrors can make striking backsplashes, says Sam.

'If you're open to creating a unique effect in your home, try using mirrors as unconventional backsplashes in kitchens or bathrooms. Mirrored backsplashes not only add a touch of glamour and elegance, but also create a lighter and more open feel within the room,' explains Sam.

a kitchen with black cabinets
Rococo Glass Mercury Tiles, Hyperion TilesHyperion Tiles

12) Use it in the hallway

Whether you have a narrow or uninviting hallway, mirrors can instantly transform the space, making it appear wider, as well as adding a touch of hallway glamour.

'Hallways are often overlooked when it comes to decorating with mirrors, but they offer great opportunities to create a stylish, bright, and welcoming space,' agrees Lisa. 'Placing near or opposite a window or door to reflect the natural light, or even opposite a light fixture, will brighten the hallway and make it feel more inviting.'

a hallway with a window and a sink
Stig Stripe wallpaper in Mint, Cathy NordströmCathy Nordström

13) Put one outside

Mirrors are not just restricted to placing inside our homes, but can make a great outdoor feature too. Garden mirrors have grown in popularity, as they can give the illusion of space, and reflect the beauty of your plants.

'We're comfortable with using mirrors in our homes, but they're also great in the garden to make small gardens look bigger or create a talking point (or both),' says Jane and Lucy. 'Lean a large freestanding mirror against a patio or terrace wall to reflect your collection of pretty plant pots or outdoor furniture. Alternatively, use a Crittall-style mirror to create a focus point – the strong, graphic lines make a stunning contrast within a more free-flowing space.'

With their elegant, rustic, window-style frames, garden mirrors make a striking, decorative feature that successfully brings the indoors out. Before installing mirrors outside, always ensure that they are designed for outdoor use and take safety precautions to protect them from extreme weather conditions.

outdoor mirror
Samode Indoor and Outdoor Area Rug, WayfairWayfair

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