Ten Interior Design Tips Using Mirrors in Your Home

Ten interior design tips using mirrors in your home
How to enhance light, display and create the illusion of space

‘Mirror, mirror on the wall’, is often quoted in jest. However, ‘never a truer word is spoken in jest’. So apart from using mirrors to check your spots (if a teenager), broccoli stuck between your teeth, shaving and make up application, which to be fair are necessary to daily life, let’s explore the possibilities.

 

 

  1. Use as a Focal Point. Hang one large or over sized statement mirror above a fireplace or behind a bed. (Please ensure its securely anchored to the wall capable to hold the weight). This will add impact to your room.

 

 

2. Use as a Display. Use a collection of mirrors with different frames and sizes and hang on one wall. This really does make a lovely display wall and a change from artwork.

 

 

 

3. Group Together. If you have two, three or five ( general rule of thumb is ratios of odd numbers, but a matching pair does work too) of the same style mirror, even possibly different sizes: these can be hung above an item of furniture such as a chest of drawers or console table to ‘anchor’ them. With the addition of a table lamp to reflect the light, and some well chosen ornaments you will create a lovely vignette.

Lamps placed in front of large mirrors creates a vingnette
Lamps placed in front of mirrors look stunning at night.

4. Light Reflection. This is a well known and loved interior design trick to add light to a poorly lit room from a window. Place the mirror on the opposite or adjacent wall to the window to reflect the light into the room.

 

 

 

5. Image Reflection. To visually help create the illusion of space, hang a mirror to reflect an outside view back into the room (only if its a good view mind,) or from an opposite wall in the room. This will help highlight the rooms best features.

6. Frames. Consider choosing interesting frames in a variety of shapes and sizes. Or you could choose frames with all the same colour. All will add interest and individuality to your decor.

 

 

7. Style. The frame will reflect ( sorry!) the style and look of the mirror, modern, antique, contemporary, traditional etc. So ensure that the style chosen will compliment your existing rooms decor.

8. Size Matters. Ensure you know where you want to hang the mirror, with approximate dimensions before purchasing. However, should you expectantly fall in love with a mirror whilst out, try thinking of at least one other place you could hang the mirror, to avoid a disappointing investment.

Colour washed mirror glass
Stunning paint washed mirror from Anthropologie.com

9. Mirrored Doors. Often used on wardrobe doors,  useful space saving and full length uses. Great for small walk in wardrobes to create the illusion of space, and ‘visually creating a sense of space’. Personally, if at all possible I would avoid hanging these opposite my bed. I wouldn’t particularly like to see myself sitting in bed. I also understand that it’s bad Feng Shui.

 

 

 

10. Mirrored Frames. Art work, paintings and photographs can look very effective framed with mirrored glass. These could be used as an alternative to mirrors for display purposes.

 

Set of pictures framed with mirror frames
Mirrored Picture Frames

The Art of French Dressing

French inspired fireplace and mantle vignette Chateau Lartigolle
French inspired fireplace and mantle vignette Chateau Lartigolle
French inspired fire place and mantle vignette at Chateau Lartigolle

French Country-style evokes memories of holidays in rural France and the lifestyle many hanker after, simpler and pared back. French linens on beds, sack cloth cushions, delicate lace panels, shutters and sturdy, functional wooden furniture. However, you need not be a slave to replicate every detail to reproduce this style. Add some modern paintings and lighting as successfully married together at La Souqueto  Chambres D’ Hotes  http://lasouqueto.com/

This style is in stark contrast to excesses of King Louis X1V and the ‘Versailles’ heavily gilded ornate furniture and lavish furnishings (with a lifestyle to match!). French Baroque with grand chandeliers, heavy drapes embellished with brocades hung at large windows and around beds in grand palaces.

Ornate French bedroom
Heavily adorned French bedroom

This of course is different to Parisian homes, where space is generally at a premium. Chic, pared down, with a considered use of available square footage. Think of the famous words of Coco Chanel ‘Less is more’ which is true for interiors as well as fashion.

Then, of course, there is the French Chateau, which can be a mix of ornate furniture, chandeliers, Toile de Jouy fabric and wallpaper, distressed painted wall treatments all add to the atmosphere, to simple lime washed walls.

Before investing in gallons of white paint as a starting point, what about colour? Homes in warmer climates use white to brighten their dark shuttered rooms, but can appear ‘cold’ in more northern homes. Think of the fields of sunflowers and lavender, Monet’s use of colour at his home in Girverny.

Perhaps there are elements from the traditional French interior styles you like and dislike. Try mixing the items you like together, oversized chandeliers with rustic wooden furniture. Simple Roman blinds made from French linen edged with a brocade, picking out colours within the room for a cohesive scheme. Do you want to create a romantic French feel to your bedroom (boudoir!) with lace, Toile in greys and blues or French country kitchen?

Chateau La Lartigolle http://www.lartigolle.com/ has beautifully and successfully transformed into a chic boutique country house hotel using a mixture of dark and ‘sludgy’ colours on their interior walls as well as wallpaper. They’ve mixed traditional French style with antique, modern and vintage pieces from 1930’s armchairs to 1950’s side tables, wall art from the 1960’s, including Jimmy Hendrix and modern contemporary pieces. The Chateau creates a surprising eclectic mix which is warm, comfortable and very easy to live with. Ideas to inspire and perhaps steal?

Dark red walls old leather armchair with interesting accessories makes a cosy corner
A cosy corner for a quiet read.
Blue Bedroom at Chateau Latigolle
The Blue Bedroom at Chateau Latigolle is calming and understated.
Mixed Vintage furniture in Chateau Latigolle
Mixed vintage pieces create a comfortable eclectic interior
White wall clock modern and contemporary art pop out against a dark grey wall
Mixed styles work well together
Modern art with pearlescent paint refllects light on a dark wall
Pearlescent paint reflects light in a dark corner.
A glass vignette on a table
A glass vignette
A mantle Piece styled with blue glass ornaments books and bust
A beautifully styled mantle piece
Hearth and fireplace style with Venician mirror bust blue glass and Chinese vases
A mixture of styles and arrangements makes a stunning focal point.
Jimmy Hendrix hangs on wall in Chateau Latigolle
Jimmy Hendrix hung on a sitting room wall at Chateau Latigolle
A glass window vignette at Chateau Latigolle
Window Vignette
Grand staircase dressed with chandelier and modern prints
A grand staircase with chandelier and modern prints

Adding Character to Your Home

Adding Character to your home using vintage and antiques
Create a home which tells your story

Inject your personality, style and soul into your home and garden, not by sourcing everything from one high street shop. Your home will end up looking like a show home, far too contrived and bland. Whether you’re preferred taste is Retro, Shabby Chic, Vintage, Industrial, contemporary or even a mixture of styles creating an eclectic, individual home. By mixing it up a bit you’re creating a home which reflects you, and enhances your home. Take time to enjoy gathering ‘loved’ items. Homes and gardens evolve over time.

Selection of elecltic Interiors for every room
Eclectic interior ideas

If you’re looking for an unusual or particular item of furniture, lighting or accessories to add personality to your home or garden by visiting local vintage shops, such as The Vintage Vagabond or Home and Colonial in Berkhamsted, and Emporiums. The Fleetville and Hitchin emporiums are home to many small traders, as well as  Station Mill Antique, The  Old Flight House and the Three Wise Monkeys ( formally at The Saddlery, St Albans, now at a smaller venue at Woodside Farm, Slip End and the images shown here are of the previous premises). Packed with unusual items. Some will revoke memories of childhood ( scary, as some of us realize that we, too are vintage!). A monthly Antique and Vintage Street Market is held once a month in St Albans, which is definitely worth a visit.

 

 

A few pieces of furniture have been ‘upcycled’ into bespoke one-off  items, which could transform a room. Images show pieces by Carmel of Piece Unique and by me Sarah Maidment Interiors. We both take commissions  if you have your own item of furniture which you’d like customising.

 

 

You will also find Kelim rugs, cushions, and  stools and chairs upholstered in gorgeous Kelim rugs from Rug Addiction https://www.rugaddiction.co.uk/ . Other chairs re-upholstered, homemade cushions and artwork to grace your walls.

Kelim rugs, cushions and upholstered furniture
An array of Kelim rugs, cushions and upholstered furniture by Rug Addiction

If vintage clothing is your passion, Little Viking  https://www.littlevikingvintage.com have an array of dresses, jackets, shoes and bags for all. ‘Oh Sew Vintage’ for handmade dresses for all occasions.

 

 

You will also find every conceivable Doc Martin design boot you could ever wish for.

Selection of Doc Martin Boots, vintage heaters and lamp
Doc Martin boots, vintage heaters and lighting

Vintage books, comics, and  postcards can be found for collectors and unusual hand-made jewellery by local artisans.

 

 

Modern works of art and photography adorn the walls. This stunning picture of Nelson Mandela (below) taken by the photographer Greg Bartley would look amazing gracing the wall of a large room.

 

Limited edition framed photograph of Nelson Mandela by Greg Bartley
Visually stunning photograph of Nelson Mandela by Greg Bartley

IMG_6804Come and say ‘hello’ and meet Colin the resident ‘horse’ .

Fake horse called Colin
Colin, a reminder of the barns former life as a saddlery and stables

How to Update a Lamp Base with Gilding

Silver gilded lamp base

Silver gilded lamp base

Sometimes when we newly decorate a room, some of our existing furniture, furnishings and accessories we want to re-use don’t quite fit in with the new scheme and décor. Gilding is an alternative to painting or purchasing new items. It works well on mirror and picture frames, candlesticks and furniture.With larger items like furniture, work on one manageable area at a time.

Although an acceptable finish, these lamp bases did not blend in with their intended new position .

Here is a quick step by step guide should you want to give it a go yourself.

Materials

Gilding paper

Gold Size

Annie Sloan dark wax

White spirit

Tools

Small paint brush

Small firm bristled brush ( artists)

Lint free cloth

Instructions

  1. With the small paint brush, ‘paint’ the gold size over the lamp base ( if doing more than one item, do one at a time otherwise the ‘size’ will dry too much, as it acts like glue) to the areas you want gilding. The size will appear white, and when ready to use will appear clear.
Gold size brushed onto lamp base
Gold size brushed onto lamp base
  1. Taking one sheet of gilding paper at a time, silver or gold side down onto the surface and dab and brush gently onto the backing paper. The gilding will stick to the size.
Brushing gilding onto lamp base
Gently brush the gilding onto the size
  1. Gently lift the paper, and move onto the next area which needs gilding. Don’t worry if the silver or gold tears or breaks as this will give a slightly distressed and worn appearance, adding interest. Continue until all the gilding has been applied to the areas you want to gild. Leave to dry.
  1. If gilding more than one item, repeat the above process.
  2. If you want a bright shiny finish to the lamp bases, ( or item being gilded) apply clear wax to seal it.
  3. If an ‘aged’ or ‘antiqued’ finish is required mix a little Annie Sloan dark wax with a small amount of white spirit in a plastic bowl to form a soft malleable wax which can be brushed easily with a small paint brush, and apply over the lamp base.
  1. After a couple of minutes, with a small lint free cloth gently wipe off the excess wax solution. The dark wax should be in any grooves or details and a toned down silver or gold with an ‘aged’ patina on the smoother surfaces.
  1. Leave to dry and fit with shades.

Shade from IKEA  http://www.ikea.com/gb/en/search/?k=OLLSTA%20shade%20grey

If you intend to use an IKEA lampshade, and a non IKEA lamp base, ensure that the lampshde comes with a metal adaptor ring. The ring sits on top of the lamp base with the shade on top, and prevents the shade being wobbly.

Gilded detail to draw edges
Gilding on draw edges to add interest. Www.sminteriors.co.uk

Bespoke vintage gilded furniture from Piece Unique http://pieceunique.co.uk/PUGallery.asp

Sideboard completely gilded
A gilded sideboard by Piece Unique

https://www.anniesloan.com/annie-sloan-products/annie-sloan-waxes-and-finishes/metal-leaf-booklets-transfer.html

Gilding papers by Annie Sloan
Gilding papers by Annie Sloan

Tour de France – Let’s Start with Yellow

Yellow abounds as the colour of the overall lead cyclist ( Maillot Jaune) the Tour de France, which starts on 5th in Leeds. Dotted along the routes over Yorkshire are brightly painted yellow bicycles. The first stage of the race finishes in Harrogate on 5th July. Betty’s of Harrogate the famous tea room has launched a new range of biscuits especially for the occasion.  http://www.bettys.co.uk/bettys_harrogate.aspx  An old tree in Montpellier, just a short walk  from Betty’s, has been carved with cyclists to mark the momentous event. Whilst at Rudding Park http://www.ruddingpark.co.uk/ a hotel just outside Harrogate, my delicious cappuccino  was decorated with chocolate sprinkles forming two cyclists on top!

Sunny, bright yellow which reminds us of summer, sunflowers and buttercups in meadows.  Or if in France sunflowers, an inspiration to Provence decor. A warm golden yellow such as ‘Mister David’ by Little Greene Paint Company http://www.littlegreene.com/mister-david or Babouche from Farrow and Ball http://www.farrow-ball.com/babouche/colours/farrow-ball/fcp-product/100223 are ideal mixed with burgundy and red furnishings for a rich, opulent look. Lovely for a sitting room.  Or mix with dark grey for a smart contemporary vibe. Great for using in North facing rooms which do not receive much sunshine or natural daylight, but looks just as stunning in a south aspect room. Yellow can be sophisticated teamed with dark mahogany. If yellow walls are too much, try covering a sofa or armchairs with in a mustard yellow velvet to add an element of surprise in your decor. Change your lampshades, or paint the insides with a specialist gold paint which will really reflect the gold yellow hues of the room. http://www.designsponge.com/2012/05/diy-project-silver-leafed-lampshade.html

Cooler citris yellows being more of an acidic lemon such as ‘Pale Hound’ http://www.farrow-ball.com/pale-hound/colours/farrow-ball/fcp-product/100071 or ‘Yellow Cake’ http://www.farrow-ball.com/yellowcake/colours/farrow-ball/fcp-product/100279 are best used in rooms with lots of warm natural light, facing south or west to prevent appearing too cool. Paler citrus yellows look good when mixed with Duck Egg Blue and light greys creating a soft mood.  This combination is often used in kitchens and bedrooms.

Add punches of yellow in accessories, glazed pots, rugs, cushions and bedcovers. Hang paintings or prints with yellows to created a cohesive look. Paint a few wooden dining chairs  or even your front door in a bold yellow to add an accent and element of surprise.

Continuing with the Tour de France topic, I have found a  witty way on Pinterest where someone has adapted an old bicycle into a wash basin.

Specialist cyclist cafe’s have sprung up all over the country as the sport has increased in popularity over the past few years, due to  Team Sky’s recent successes in the Tour de France and Olympics. These cafe’s are a great place to stop for refreshment, meet other people and carry out repairs. Often these cafe’s are decorated with cycling paraphernalia. See the top  U.K. cafe’s as recommended by ‘Cake My Ride’  I love the name, and sounds like my sort of bike ride!  http://www.cakemyride.co.uk/20_best_bike_shop_cafes.html or The Guardian.  http://www.theguardian.com/travel/2014/mar/12/top-10-cycling-cafes-uk

Please note that images other than my own are from Pinterest.

Seaside Rendevous

Coastal or seaside, although is a key trend this season, is always popular, especially in bathrooms, it must be all the water!  Our love affair of glorious summer days spent by the coast. Blue skies and sea, sandy beaches, stripped check chairs and wind breaks (if you’re on the East coast). Fishing, hunting for crabs and collecting shells. Whether your idea of coastal is the pared down natural look, nautical, or  bright deck chair stripes reminding you of Brighton beach, there are products for you.

 

The coastal style can be introduced successfully into your home ( other than the bathroom) even if most of us aren’t lucky enough to live by the sea. The trick is not to be overly themed, keep it subtle.  Obvious accessories like wooden fish and  boats should be kept to a minimum.  Blue is the first colour which generally springs to mind, sometimes with a dash of red used as an accent colour, on furniture or fabric. Vibrant cobalt and inky indigo give a fresh feel.

Fabrics  Striped, plain  natural linens and clever designs for curtains, cushions and bedding.

Blue is not the only choice of colour. Try using the colour of coral, sea shells, or sand.

Team with grey striped fabric (to echo a cloudy sky).

Ticking fabric from Ian Mankin
Ticking fabric from Ian Mankin

Flooring – Any natural flooring looks great, whether painted in an off white or natural wood. Natural  seagrass carpets or a textured rug all add to the tactile elements required.

 

Accessories –  Cleverly displays of collections will add impact. Seascape paintings hung on the walls, fisherman’s lamps hung over the dining table. Glass hurricane lamps filled with pebbles to secure a candle, placed on a table. Seashells used as ornaments or displayed in a glass jar. Mismatched tableware add style, using the same colour theme. Lobster pots as ornaments. All major high street stores and supermarkets have a range of goods emanating the trend, to suit all budgets. I was impressed with Matalan’s range for a great selection at great prices. Team up with items found in different shops, to avoid looking contrived.

 

Furniture – Rough textured wood for furniture to echo driftwood. Reclaimed wooden furniture is perfect for adding a relaxed seaside vibe. Paint dining chairs different shades of blue, or cover with a stripped fabric.

 

 

All Mapped Out

New York map trend from Asda and H&M - ellietennant.com
New York map trend from Asda and H&M – ellietennant.com

With the arrival of ‘Sat Nav’ and ‘App’ technology, you may have thought that disagreements over people’s map reading skills, are perhaps a thing of the past. However, there are times when road,  street, footpath, underground and  ordnance survey maps are invaluable. I spent all day Saturday sitting in the back of a car with a road map navigating over the North Yorkshire Moors in low cloud, visibility – zilch, wind and rain. Oh joy! There can be something fascinating about a map too, providing all sorts of information that a ‘Sat Nav’ or App do not usually supply,  and besides which you may not get a signal! There is something exciting about planning a trip with a map, and keeping the map afterwards to evoke fond memories of the trip. There is a strong trend at the moment introducing maps into your home.  Framed Antique maps and prints, (these can be expensive collectors’ items like  Francesco da Mosto’s recent discovery of a seven  map collection of Alvise Cadamosto worth £1m is anything to go by) or posters of a map from Panem or Neverland,  a wall mural, paper,  globes , bedding, furniture, fabrics, lighting and accessories.

Furniture – An old map, wrapping, wall paper  or posters can be used to bring an old item of furniture to life. On a table top for example, or on the front of a chest of drawers using decoupage. How to decoupage –  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rFyddV7BxUI.  Cover an old tray using the same technique, or buy a London map tray from Ben Pentreath for £70.00 http://www.pentreath-hall.com/  Or buy an oil cloth with a map of the world for your dining table which should spark conversation. http://www.johnlewis.com/john-lewis-world-map-pvc-cut-length-tablecloth-blue/p301356

Try papering one wall with a shipping map as an unusual accompaniment to a nautical themed bathroom or child’s room. ‘Great Harbour’ by Ralph Lauren would be perfect.  Complete wall mural’s in a selection of designs can be used to great effect too as illustrated below.   If papering the whole wall is too overwhelming for your space paper the ceiling.

Bedlinen – Carry the theme into the bed linen. Zara Home have a great design at a reasonable cost. Add a vintage vibe with mini map bunting from Grace and Favour http://www.graceandfavourhome.com/ourshop/prod_1398302-Vintage-Map-Bunting.html or try Esty.

Lighting – Ready made map lighting is another way to introduce the theme. These can be purchased or try covering your existing lampshades with old paper maps or fabric. For instructions go to  http://homeguides.sfgate.com/cover-lampshade-wallpaper-88216.html

Accessories – Introduce map prints to cover storage boxes and notebooks in your home office. There are is selection of available from  LINK PICTURE

Pictures – A set of framed historical maps on wall looks smart, or a map on wooden planking and distressed for a relaxed vibe.

Rugs and flooring inspired by maps used to ‘anchor’ a room.

Fabrics – There is a plethora of fabrics to choose from for cushion covers, blinds, curtains and upholstery. The world is your oyster!

The Art of Display

The finishing touches to a room can make or break it’s final appeal. You maybe happy with the arrangement of the main items of furniture, but the room  could look  unfinished and unwelcoming without your personal additions to the walls, books and ornaments. This aspect of decorating can be difficult, especially when faced with a mixture of items, which do not necessarily sit well together.

 

Work with a colour code, so your displays are connected to the rooms design. For example use the colour’s in a painting to blend or match the rooms colour’s.  If the room is fairly monochrome, add an accent colour in the painting or artwork. The style of painting, wall art, plates or mirrors need not necessarily match, so long as they incorporate the same colour’s, or theme or just frames, an interesting group arrangement can be created. A painting or collection often looks best if placed on a wall above an item of furniture such as a sofa, side table or fireplace, because the furniture ‘anchors’ the display.  A symmetrical design works well in a bedroom, behind a bedhead for instance,  as the visual order has a calming effect.

If you are unsure how to group your items together try cutting templates of the items and stick them to the wall (use a tape which will not damage the wall) and rearrange them until you are happy. This saves lots of unnecessary and unwanted holes in the wall.

 

To avoid shelves or display cabinets looking like a bric-a-brac shop, again group subject matter, or colour’s together. Use repetition to add impact by displaying three of the same items together. Add texture and interest combining different elements such as copper, glass, pewter or wood. If you have a treasured collection, display altogether for impact. Sea shells in a glass container in a bathroom for example. Look for inspiration in shop displays, and observe any ideas which appeal to you and think would work well in your home.

Change your displays periodically to reflect the changing seasons and add interest. The simplest way is to display a vase of fresh flowers. this instantly lifts the room.

Items used daily can be displayed attractively, using the same basic rules. On kitchen shelves use  storage containers as the display. China too can be stored as a display.

To avoid a book shelf looking untidy, unify by colour, or collection. Never have books just laid haphazardly on top of other books due to lack of space. This just looks untidy and is not create a great display.

 

All picture examples from Pinterest.