Mirror Magic

Cunningly placed reflectors double and treble the charm of distinctive furniture

MARY AGNES PEASE January 1 1930

Mirror Magic

Cunningly placed reflectors double and treble the charm of distinctive furniture

MARY AGNES PEASE January 1 1930

Mirror Magic

Cunningly placed reflectors double and treble the charm of distinctive furniture


NOBODY knows just when the first mirror was made. Some men are sure that Eve was responsible for it, after she had attempted to see herself as Adam saw her by gazing into a pool on a rainy day, and had failed to find there her reflected self. She probably blamed Adam for the failure of the pool to act as a looking-glass, and suggested that he provide her with a reflector that would be impervious to change of weather. Be that as it may, the urge on the part of women—and men also—to regard themselves either critically or admiringly still obtains, and is undoubtedly responsible for the increasing demand for mirrors of every size and type for personal and general purposes.

Ever since the fourteenth century, mirrors have been used for the enhancement of rooms as well as for the delight of personal reflection. As time went by, their decorative and utilitarian possibilities have become more generally recognized and developed, especially after it was found that a mirror adroitly placed will give a fictitious idea of space to a small room, as well as act as a light-bringer to a dull one.

The designers of modern furnishings have been quick to realize the great possibilities of mirrors to enhance and repeat by reflection, to give a brilliant effect and even to mystify. For the most part the miracle workers achieve their results subtly. The magic glass may be placed at the back of shelves to echo the charms of the trifles before it and , also to give the effect of space, or it may be let into the wall or otherwise deftly placed to catch reflection, to bring light, or to give the illusion of distance.

Many of the mirrors of today are very much like those used long ago in France. The slim and graceful mirrors of the Directoire' period are evidently the granddaddies of those in vogue at the present time. In fact, all the furnishings of that period combine admirably with the new designs. Sheets of plain mirror were fastened to the walls in those days just as they are today, and were used for the purpose oi reflecting light as well as for decorative purposes.

An Economical Illusion

TT IS quite an adA venture to try the effect of mirrors from the standpoint of creating illusions.

According to Mr.

Barnum we all like to be fooled, and

when such fooling is done in a manner that is charming and adds a hint of the miraculous, it should be encouraged. I have in mind a room in a small apartment

which is sparsely though carefully furnished. One of the owner’s heirlooms is an enormous mirror, which was rather a problem until the suggestion was made that it be placed flat against one of the walls of the room. The large gilt frame with which it was formerly adorned, was

removed and a narrow flat frame of exactly the shade of the wall paper substituted. On entering the room one gets an amazing sense of space, brilliance and luxury. The

owner told me that this mirror had been the means of saving him a good deal of money, as the reflection of the furniture made it appear more beautiful than it really was, and, in consequence, lessened his desire to make further purchases. In this case, and in many that I could name, a mirror was a veritable light-bringer. By capturing and reflecting every object and every stray gleam, it gave life and movement to the room. The game of fitting mirrors into different rooms can be made a fascinating one, and the careful placing of them will bring its reward of beauty. For example, if one has achieved a charming corner by an arrangement of flowers with books and cushions, a small table, and the odd chair, it is worth while to be able to repeat it with the aid of a mirror hung in just the right place. Miss Elsie de Wolfe, the famous interior decorator, makes a feature of mirrored groups in her rooms, and this clever method of adding beauty to furnishings is growing in popularity.

A writer on house furnishings, whose name I cannot at present recall, said that no matter what pictures you hang on your walls they are pretty sure to be criticized even if they were painted by a great master, but that well-placed mirrors as wall decoration have no detractors. A new mirror will appeal to anyone even after a charming picture becomes wearisome to the eye.

The Italians were the first to understand the decorative value of mirrors. One interesting use they made of them was to hang them behind sconces filled with wax candles, and thus create the illusion of a thousand twinkling lights when by actual count there would be merely fifty. Modern decorators have borrowed this idea with a difference. By reflection they are able to diffuse light from hidden places without showing the actual means employed.

A mirror placed opposite a fireplace in winter will echo the leaping flames, and thus create the illusion of another fire. One placed opposite the windows will reflect trees and flowers and bring the out-of-doors inside. A mirror may also prove to be a most effective background for pieces of furniture. Placed behind a sofa or other large piece, it will give an impression of space as well as double the charm of the other furnishings in the room.

The objects to be placed immediately in front of a mirror are many and if carefully selected seem to be greatly enhanced by reflection. This is especially so with flowers, candles, or delicate pieces of china. Colored glass also makes a lovely reflection.

Mirrors can be magnificent or homely, and their types are as multiple as their uses. It is necessary to choose your mirrors with discretion. A sturdy, Colonial mirror with fruit or landscape panels would naturally be out of place with modern furniture, although quite correct in its proper environment.

I saw a very clever use of mirrors lately at an exhibition of modern furniture. Fairly wide strips of the glass were placed together above a fireplace and continued in sharp lines to the ceiling, giving a high architectural effect. The traditional shelf, with its clock flanked by vases and candlesticks, was not included in this very new arrangement. There was nothing but the beauty of the outer tiling of the fireplace and the brilliance of the glass, both of which were a delight to the eye.

A friend of mine acquired a very modern

mirror recently in a rather unique way. Among some ancestral pieces of furniture which she had inherited, was a handsome rosewood overmantel ornamented with a large central mirror and a small one on either side of it. This piece had a serious fall while travelling to its new home, and when it arrived at its destination was found to be in a sorry state, with the exception of the centre mirror which had escaped unharmed. This mirror, which is shield-shaped, has emerged from its former trappings as an up-to-date piece of beautiful glass unbound and free. It makes one believe in the fairy-tale properties supposed to be possessed by mirrors. Supported by the new filigree studs it will have a special place on the wall of the living room where it will reflect the light and its surroundings.

Convex Mirrors

' I 'HERE is quite a revival at the present time in the use of the XVIII century convex mirrors which reflect the objects about them in miniature. These mirrors are usually placed above the mantel. A really fine antique mirror is a valuable possession nowadays, and is regarded in the nature of an investment as well as an object of beauty. For those of us, however, who are not so fortunate as to have fallen heir to one of these lovely old mirrors, very good copies are obtainable for a modest sum; and, perhaps best of all, there are the sheets of unframed mirrors which are always in good taste if they suit the proportions of the room and are placed to reflect, to cheer or to enlarge.

If your walls are bare and lack color interest, try the effect of a mirror in combination with a gay-colored hanging. They will add light and gaiety and distinction to rooms at surprisingly small cost.