Sure, tearing down walls is one option for changing a home. But adding a mirror is a much simpler, more elegant solution.
Placing mirrors across from each other, Richelle Cline produced an infinity effect in her apartment. "It creates the illusion of a never-ending room," said Cline, an interior designer. "It visually enlarges the space and reflects natural light and lamp light."
Mirrors are functional artworks when used properly, and they can be inexpensive. For about $60, Cline dramatically altered her home using 1-foot-square beveled mirrors purchased from a home-building supply store. She glued a grid of 25 mirrors to the wall of her dining room. The mirrors face a round mirror in her living room, resulting in more sparkle and dimension for the space.
Before placing a mirror, pay attention to what it will reflect. "That's the biggest rule with mirrors," said Benjamin Sundermeier, a space planner and interior designer in Kansas City, Mo. "It seems obvious, but you don't want to double the image of something that's not attractive."
The prime example is hanging a mirror above a fireplace, something many people do to fill the blank space above the mantel. The problem is the mirror usually reflects the popcorn ceiling and the light fixture you meant to replace years ago. That predicament can be solved by angling the mirror down and putting a little slack in the hanging wire. The mirror then will show off the chic mantel decor instead.
Other areas in which to avoid installing mirrors are skinny hallways (they're full of doors) and bedrooms (so you don't mistake the reflection of your spouse for an intruder in the middle of the night).
More people are using mirrors as kitchen backsplashes, but this has its pitfalls. "It creates twice the number of dirty dishes," says Cline, who has used mirrors in a kitchen.
The bigger the mirror, the better, says Sundermeier, owner of High Cotton, a home-furnishings store. For example, a 4- or 5-foot-tall mirror on a chest of drawers gives a grander feel to a space. Doorway-height mirrors impressively increase the sense of volume in a room. Tall, skinny mirrors make people look better than wide ones and should be placed so they don't visually cut off the top of the head of the tallest person in the household.
Mirrors should be situated so they don't cause glare. They can be problematic if they're placed across from a window with a southern or western exposure. Still, a mirror is good for adding light to a dark room. Position a mirror in front of attractive lamps and light fixtures and windows that let in soft light.
Stacy Downs writes for the Kansas City Star.
Three unexpected spots for mirrors
Inside the fireplace: Candles will burn twice as nice in front of a mirror. A mirror there also expands the room, shows off nice furniture legs and allows people to check out their clothes.
Underneath windows: A mirror hung below a window can make it appear that the window extends to the floor. This looks especially good with tall windows, such as those in lofts.
Dining-room ceiling: This room often doesn't have interesting architecture. But it does have chandeliers and beautiful china that are worth seeing twice.