Mirror, Mirror

By Karen Parr-Moody


A glamorous gilded or etched mirror is often the missing piece in a home that desperately needs some chic sparkle.

Mirrors have evolved from being highly polished pieces of metal to the mirrors of today. The modern mirror was born in 1835 when a German chemist, Justus von Liebig, invented a chemical process by which he coated a glass surface with metallic silver. Prior to this discovery, glass was based on a technique dating back to 16th-century Venice, in which glass was lined with a thin metal sheet of amalgam and tin.


Design fans of the mirror have included late fashion designer Coco Chanel and current interior designer Miles Redd. Chanel had a winding, mirrored staircase leading up to her Paris apartment, where she kept Venetian mirrors as part of her eclectic décor. In fact, an octagonal mirror in her reception room inspired the stopper for the iconic Chanel No.5 perfume bottle.


Redd’s love affair with mirrors includes mirrored kitchen backsplashes, Venetian mirrors over mantles, and the mirror-encrusted powder room he installed in his New York townhouse. One of his common design motifs is a round mirror, often in a convex version.


Redd has been quoted as explaining, “In college, I had a cheap piece of furniture, and I had a piece of mirror cut for the top. I loved the way it reflected light, and that it gave the room sparkle.”


In any decorator’s bag of tricks, a mirror can be a go-to solution. It can create the illusion of more space, improve lighting, and reflect the assets of a room. 


Mirrors don’t get much more glamorous than the baroque triptych at left ($245; Booth B-106). This carved and gilt mirror has a crested top and a pierced, scrolled perimeter. Additionally, it has beautiful etchings of an urn and floral sprays. This ornate beauty would add sparkle to any dining room or hallway. 


What sets etched mirrors apart from others is their versatility. In the photo at right, this set of etched mirrors boasts an elegant candle design ($115; Booth B-106). Etched mirrors are adaptable to any color scheme, and their design can be as ornate or as simple as the surrounding décor. They are easily paired or grouped without seeming heavy.






Since the Victorians tended to turn everyday objects into highly decorative items, the design of this 19th-century wall sconce, left, should come as no surprise ($395; Booth B-200). It is one of an elegant pair of double-arm sconces, each having beveled mirrors and a dolphin motif at the top. This mirror has intricate brass work throughout. These would certainly bring elegance to a home’s front door if placed in a front entryway or foyer.





For a designer craving exuberance, the 19th-century mirror with highly detailed floral swags, right, certainly fits the bill. The painted putti hold a flaming torch on this classical gilt style mirror (photo, right; $225; Booth B-1002). This mirror simply begs to have a second life somewhere interesting. It could be used to add romance to a woman’s dressing room, or as a playful touch in a baby’s room.


Mirrors are a small financial sacrifice for the style mileage they provide. From circular to linear, or simple to ornate, they easily transform a space from ho-hum to dazzling. With so many great choices at GasLamp, the only thing that might be hard is to decide which is “the fairest of them all?”

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