I’ve been totally crushing on all of your hot sales and holiday shop. It’s inspired me to fix up our home a little better.
One area that I think would be a fairly easy fix is the entry. I was thinking of maybe a small chest with a mirror over it and a lamp and a few accessories.
So, was in Home Depot with hubs the other day when I mentioned that I wanted to look at the mirrors because I wanted to get one for our entry. He made such a face and looked at me in that peculiar way that lets me know without him saying anything, exactly what he’s thinking.
And it’s never good.
“Wall Mirrors are all so tacky,” said he.
I said, trying to be diplomatic in the face of his delusional idea.
“Well, I’ve seen some very nice mirrors on this blog that I read.”
“Oh, that Lauren girl?” (more faces)
“uh… Her name is Laurel and she’s old enough to be our mother, so hardly a girl.”
“Whatever, she’s a decorator and we can’t afford whatever it is she’s peddling. The entry is fine as is. The kids are only going to trash it, anyway.”
Well, Laurel, Curmudgeons R US! I let it go because I could see that I wasn’t going to get anywhere. Are all husbands like this?
Yes, the words are a complete fabrication but are based on a real comment from a lovely reader, Suzi.
Actually, this is her comment which I found after I wrote that.
Can you tell me what to say to my husband that thinks all wall mirrors look cheap and tacky???? I want to put one on a wall in our huge front entry, above a buffet. Then I would like the tall buffet lamps, but until I come up with a plan, nothing.
TACKY, he says? No, what’s tacky is trying to put your lipstick on without a mirror! Yeesh!
Are all husbands like this?
Yes, Suzi; they are ALL like this. Didn’t they teach you that in school? ;]
But you have to understand that they don’t think the same way we do. (I have to remind myself of that too.)
The only difference is that some husbands are more of the “yes, Ma’am” type. And some are more controlling, even if there’s nothing for them to control. :]
If he’s worried about money, there are gorgeous wall mirrors EVERYWHERE and they don’t have to break the bank.
Quite frankly, I’d just go ahead with your plans and get your beautiful wall mirror and style it the way you like.
I promise you.
He will not notice.
He’ll say something like, “Oh, did you get your hair done?”
And then, even though you haven’t washed it in five days, say:
“Yes, do you like it?”
And then make him my chocolate cake (the one that will make you plotz) you can get the recipe here
In fact, after he has a piece. (maybe two), you will be able to get whatever you like.
- A spa weekend with your bestie
- Tickets to the Ballet (without whining)
- Trip to Paris
It’s magic, that cake.
And then you will have your beautiful bright non tacky entry.
It is going to be a lot brighter.
It’s the oldest trick in the book. (okay, maybe the second or third oldest) ;]
Mirrors reflect light, like crazy!
That’s why our clever ancestors made candle sconces like these wonderful ones I’m lucky enough to own.
If it appeals to you, thrift shops, estate sales and consignment shops are great places to start for interesting wall mirrors.
But here are some things I look for.
- Good proportions. And that can be relative to the space it’s going in or it could be the frame to mirror ratio. Is there a rule? Well, in some cases, but there are so many variations. Let your eyes judge.
- Finish. I love, love, love a gilt frame that has the richness and patina of time. Unfortunately, for most of us, that usually comes with a price.
But, I try not to get mirrors with fake sprayed on finishes. Or else get the ol’ rub ‘n buff
and maybe some shoe polish. No joke. I’ve used brown shoe polish to mimic age on pieces.
Let’s look at some gorgeous wall mirrors.
I bet that Ben Pentreaths giga-gorgeous mantel mirror cost a pretty penny. But you never know. Maybe some misguided sod had thrown it into a dumpster and Ben rescued it from the landfill.
Somehow, I can’t quite picture that, but it’s a lot more interesting than he paid thousands of pounds for it at an antique dealer.
I so wanted to find a mirror like this. I had fantasies about having one over my bookcase in my entry.
And I found one.
Well, I found it, but it had been sold.
And, it sold for thousands of dollars– on 1stDibs. Sorry, I saved the image but forgot to save the vendor and now I can’t find it.
Back in England, this lovely sitting room is from a home that we visited last month. And yes, that’s my little head in the mirror.
It belongs to this gorgeous entrance which you guys saw in this post.
This fireplace with mirror above it is from the sitting room of the illustrious English architect, Quinlan Terry. We saw his charming office in Winchester. Quinlan won my heart by telling our group that the way he approached classical architecture was to copy what was already done. No need to reinvent the golden mean. He didn’t say that; I did.
There were parts of his amazing home that reminded me so much of Furlow Gatewood that I asked the gentleman if he knew of Furlow.
He, said with the most charming grin how “provincial” they all are and no, he had not heard of Mr. Gatewood.
Well, I don’t know about provincial, but Furlow is of the more esoteric variety, even though he’s certainly a superstar.
And Furlow Gatewood uses wall mirrors in the most sublime way!
His vignettes are so magnificent. And I adore those mirrored French doors!
Image Rod Collins
But wait. Is this not the same mirror?
Well, it certainly looks to be the same mirror.
This one was sold at Wisteria. (no longer available)
I dunno. Could be wrong, but I don’t think that Furlow shops at Wisteria. :]
Not that there’s anything wrong with Wisteria. I love them! But I doubt that he buys retail.
And I doubt that Furlow’s mirrors are new since he’s quite the antiquarian.
Most likely Wisteria
ripped off copied the design.
Image: Rod Collins
Another gorgeous sitting room by Furlow Gatewood. (link to his wonderful book)
Hey, another one? Maybe Furlow does shop at Wisteria, for again that is where I found this beauty. (no longer available)
But, actually, no; Mr. Gatewood did not get his mirror there. This has only been in their line maybe a couple of years at the most. And I’m sure that Furlow has had his mirror far longer than that.
Obviously, someone over at Wisteria has heard of Furlow Gatewood! And they have great taste!
Here is the mirror in a holiday shot.
Speaking of gifts. Have you seen my new holiday shop page? It’s full of trees, ornaments, decorations, gifts and a lovely Hanukkah shop too.
Most designers use wall mirrors in their work, but perhaps none better than Suzanne Kasler (below)
I love how she layered and incorporated a screen in this delightful vignette from her own home.
Above we have a gorgeous trumeau mirror. This image and the two below are from the talented young designer and shop owner in New Orleans, Rivers Spencer. Some of you might recall a post I did on her about two years ago.
I always say this, because it’s that important. But lamps in front of mirrors are the most amazing thing. These images are from her shop which is why there’s plastic on the shade. :]
Elegant mirror that I would say is in the style of Robert Adam. I am not sure if this one is from that period or not, but it does appear to be old.
This is a more typical mirror in the Adam style that I found. And a fine example, it is. It was sold through Millhouse Antiques. For more about Robert Adam, please click here and here. (there you will see a different Robert Adam as well.)
And closing the examples with a chic, urbane living room by Rita Konig.
Below is a widget filled with mirrors in many styles from different sources. Some are new and some are vintage and a few might be antiques. Many of them are under or around $200! None of them are hellishly expensive.
There is an * next to the pieces that are vintage or antique. The rest of the mirrors are new.
And, please check out the new Holiday Shop. I’m going to be adding to it every day and it should be finished by Thanksgiving, but I will probably keep adding to it. There are also some new things on the Hot Sales Page. And I included some of the new things I purchased last week for Thanksgiving.
Thanks Laurel for the great post! I have shown it to my daughter, but I’m going to print out the pictures of my favorite mirror vignettes, to have ready to show my husband when I tell him about this. I really like the Furlow Gatewood vignette with the French doors. Living in Naples, there are consignment shops galore down here with furniture from the homes of very well-to-do people. I will start there and compare them to online mirrors. I also like the cake reference, but with my husband, it is pie. Also, thanks to everyone that gave tips on what to look for in a mirror.
Great Suzi! and whatever works. Cake, pie. no matter. But maybe try the cake sometime. It’s sooooo yummy!
Thanks for including the real Suzi’s note and your version of it. I love it. And I love your characters. That sense of humor of yours sets you apart. I note the tube of gold stuff to touch up the frames of mirrors that have let themselves go. But what about a mirror frame that is old and still elegant, but that houses what I think is a newish mirror. Is there something that can “age” the mirror itself?
That’s a very good question. There are some tutorials on youtube that explain how to do that. I haven’t looked at any of them, however.
What do you think about architectural-style mirrors (Ballard Designs has a ton of them…look like windows and such)?
Some of them are very nice. I did a post here somewhere about rooms with no windows and I posted some of those types of mirrors.
I can’t stop laughing at greedy bastard Friday, I just.can’t. stop.
I know it’s about mirrors and I love mirrors (few, I can commit to, and yes they are omg expensive unless I was lucky to inherit them from previous sellers-happened in our previous house-or they’re fairly small( have one in out entry..it’s a bit funky..it’s from StrayDogDesigns..they’re heavily into botanicals as am too)..or if it’s-of course!-a lucky second hand find
My husband loves second hand-besides less money part. that’s often there- partially for a hunting element I suppose (LOL)..so a thing being second hand (even if he didn’t have anything to do with the hunt himself) has much more chance to be loved by him. well by me too given usually the correlation quality/price can be so much better..
He loves art so everything that has more “decorative” quality he’ll feel less strongly about..but there’s something ancient in us that predisposes us for preferences..and I guess men often don’t need “game” per se..they do like a feeling of getting something in a most complicated way possible. Well at least some of them. Which can be fortunate sometimes, with some things. Like mrrors.
okay..back to laughing lol. Have the most amazing week, and thank you for this great post-as always!
Glad that you’re laughing!
I don’t get how a husband could think mirrors are tacky and agree that proceeding without his input (while spending sensibly) is the way proceed. My husband is a different kettle of fish. When a very talented but expensive designer and I were decorating the living room I consulted him about something-or-other. His response, “don’t ask me, you may listen and will be unhappy. Let’s face it, I wouldn’t know the difference if I were living in a tent.” That was fifteen years ago. I still love the room but feel I have corrupted him: he very much knows and appreciates that he’s not living in the REI catalog.
Corrupted or not; he’s a smart man!
I LOVE mirrors. I have to have at least one great mirror in every room. They do so much and I like them much better than art on the walls! I am so lucky my husband let’s me decorate however I want. he is so happy when mama is happy in her home! My kids seem to like my design sensibilities even if they do say “Mom this room is a little bit “extra”. Everyone here is accostomed to mom constantly tweaking the decor, selling off offenders and welcoming in “better versions” of something we already have!
I love your selections. I ordered the white rattan pagoda mirror from wisteria for my living room. Hope it’s good. I do love giltwood but I desperately wanted that pagoda shape and texture.
I have ordered several mirrors for clients and the ones for myself and always been happy. One of mine arrived broken, but they replaced it very quickly.
Oh, holy catfish, Laurel, this is a stunning post! After scouring your blog and reading every old post I could…I landed upon the Furlow Gatewood entry…I was so amazed that I showed the photos to my husband. Well, the darling man ordered his book from Amazon and surprised me with it two days later!!! I am jumping out of my skin with joy ,those Wisteria mirrors are perfect!! Perhaps I’ll order one and then whip up that chocolate cake, hehe!!😉Have a fabulous Thanksgiving!!
I predict that there will be many blissful days in your future. :]
Another great post! Mirrors are great to buy at auction. Prices vary widely but many 19th century gilt ones are available for $100-300, sometimes less. Search Liveauctioneers for “Gilt Overmantel Mirror” and click on sold items. It will show pages of past sales with prices (as long as you log onto the site). Pay attention to the most recent sales (say 2011 to present) – and look at more than the first page, they are rather randomly shown.
Put a search in for upcoming auctions with the type of mirror you want and you may be able to score a beauty. Stick to auction houses nearby enough to preview in person. Check the look and the condition. Then bid in person or online and if you win it, bring it home (rather than shipping) I think high crating and shipping costs keep online buyers away so prices for mirrors at auction are especially good. Of course there are highly valuable outliers. Sorry this is so long, but I love to share auction tips, gleaned from 5 years as a dealer.
Thank you for that. Auctions make me nervous. I’m not saying that they’re bad for others, but I’d rather just be able to purchase something outright rather than have to bid on something and possibly lose out on something I really wanted.
But for those who love auctions, thanks for the advice!
Hi Laurel. The elaborately carved wood table in Furlow’s house, underneath the deer mirror, (it appears to be wood to me), is really beautiful. Do you have any suggestions regarding hanging a mirror over a headboard? I live in California – earthquake country, or do you think it unadvisable?
hmmmm… well, I suppose if the house is shaking so hard it comes crashing down on your heads, that might be the least of your problems. But I don’t believe I’ve ever put a mirror unless something very small over a bed.
The other thing about mirrors is, make sure they aren’t reflecting anything stupid, like your refrigerator.
Mirrors only work when they reflect something beautiful, like a view or nice indoor vista.
Good point. Like putting a mirror facing the WC. uhhhh… Of course, the WC shouldn’t be directly in front of the bathroom door like mine is! haha! But in this case, there’s no choice and I do not have a mirror there.
Yes, husbands are 99% of the decorating problems in this country! I’ve been married 44 years and mine still doesn’t understand I always win the battle ultimately, so why put up a fuss. Then he admits I was right or doesn’t even notice. Example… I’ve been in a ginormous leg brace from foot to hip since August when I broke my arm and leg; came home from the ortho last week in a much smaller brace. Asked him “notice anything different?”. He couldn’t figure it out! But I do love him, so I guess I’ll keep him!!
Yes, I played that game too. And nope. Did not notice. Ever. Or like in the post thought it was something unrelated. I was giggling to myself all evening about the “new hairstyle?” I am positive that happened once.
Okay…I think I am in the bohemian camp. Please Santa may I have the dissolved lace mirror at Anthropologie? P.S. I tried very hard to be good all year.
I’m a little bit BoHo. (having a little Donny and Marie Osmond moment – hahahaha!) I will pray that Santa gets the message!
I love this post, as I absolutely adore what mirrors can do for a room! When I was growing up, my mom used mirrors to reflect light throughout our home. She once had a friend who came over and said “boy, you must like looking at yourself with all of these (there were two) mirrors in the room.” My mom was embarrassed and tried to explain why she had them. Too bad she couldn’t direct her to this post. Or trip the lady as she walked out the door.
When we moved into our current home we were faced with a sort of shotgun kitchen/hearth room that we mostly hang in. On one side of the room is a beautiful, enormous window that our most beautiful tree is proudly on display. On the other is one of those dreaded, endless walls, filled with expensive duct-work, so for $$ reasons, it can’t be removed. Try as I might, I couldn’t find something to fill the space. No art was large enough and a gallery wall felt messy.
In the interest of not writing a thesis on your post about how we arrived at this solution*: I’ll keep it short and say we got crafty. We bought a 5×8 gym mirror from craigslist for $280 (including delivery and install), then hired a carpenter to build a frame around it for about $400. It’s on the wall directly opposite of our windows, and I love it!** It’s ENORMOUS. And so pretty, and we get so many compliments on it. It’s opened the room and made it infinitely brighter. We even had a guest who thought the mirror was a door to a whole other room!
So basically, what I’m saying is that LIKE ALWAYS, I agree with LB. <3
*inspired by my clever hairdresser who did the same in his salon
**except for when I startle myself by catching my reflection in really bad lighting and then wanting to sink to floor and rock self in fetal position
Hi Sarah McG! Oh dear. I forgot to respond to your sweet note on FB. I do get bogged down. The notifications freak me out!
but you know that I’m from Indiana too, right? It’s been quite a while, but I was raised in Evansville.
“Back home again, in Indiana… And it seems that I can see… the gleaming candle light
Still shining bright
through the sycamores for me…”
I do hope that you start your own blog one day because you’re a terrific writer with a light-hearted entertaining voice and a lovely home!
As for looking at oneself in the mirror.
I’m at the age where it’s not only startling, I am sure that bloody mirror has started to malfunction! But the worst? Accidentally putting my phone camera on selfie-mode. That thing hates me!
Gosh, my mom taught me the word “tact” when I was four because I was always blurting out stupid shit like that. (like your lipstick is tooooooo red. It was) But I was four. lol
Laurel, my elder daughter, age 3 or 4, pointed out a gentleman in a store by saying, in full voice, I might add, “Look! That’s the baldest man I ever saw!” Of course I wanted to melt away but then I thought, well, he probably knew he was totally bald already! Babes and their mouths!
Back to mirrors, quite the solution to a few decorating problems, they are! I stuck a small framed one on a bookshelf that needed a little brightening with a small figurine in front of it. They both get moved around now and again.
Yes, it’s quite a rude awakening when one realizes that a child’s behavior has little if any bearing on what the parents have tried to teach them. At least that was my experience.
Laurel, I seriously, seriously heart you. Your supportive voice does more than you could possibly know. I mean that so sincerely. So, SO sincerely.
I’m taking that as a very good sign that you are also from Indy. Anytime you come back this way, you are more than welcome here for a noisy dinner! I’m happily married, but I encourage you to bring your hunky son as I have a younger sister. And eyeballs. 😉
Please know I know how busy you are and I never would expect a reply on IG or FB or anywhere else. xo
Warmly wishing you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving!!
That is so kind of you to offer that. Alas I would bring my son but he has a darling girlfriend. And Happy TG to you as well!
Most of my friends who have been in the military keep a full length mirror near the front door so that they can make sure they are “squared away” before venturing outside. I’ve adopted this custom, which is especially important for me because I keep all my shoes in the coat closet. I find that placing an attractive head-to-toe mirror in my entryway speeds my trip out the door in the morning and prevents unfortunate “what was she thinking?” situations.
Great post today. I love the Wisteria mirrors.
That sounds like a great idea to me!
Dear Laurel, you’ll soon be into marriage guidance with all these divorce-worthy spouses that have been hanging around of late!
A few suggestions here for Suzi. Husbands are more inclined to be reasonable when lesser amounts of cash are involved. So the idea of junk shop/flea market might be the way to go.
You never know what you’re going to find, and what counts is the right size and right proportions of the frame. Also the quality of the mouldings, and the sturdiness of the construction (a mirror is a heavy weight). The rest is largely irrelevant. Paint and gilding can work wonders, and new glass isn’t very expensive. Fake finishes can be changed too. But my view is that the more ornate the frame, the more important to get the real antique thing, and preferably carved wood rather than stucco which doesn’t care for central heating.
For the anecdote, I’ve got a large Louis-Philippe mirror which came as just the frame, from a charity shop for what would now be 5€. Covered in layers and layers of drippy paint which I decided to strip before re-painting. Surprise, surprise! under the layers of paint was a gilded (with gold leaf) frame with incised flower designs, c.1880s. After cleaning I simply had a new mirror cut and a sheet of plywood for backing, and there you go.
This isn’t the only bargain mirror in the house either. Frames are amongst the easiest and fastest DIY makeovers, but it’s a question of hunting and being patient until you find what you want — and keeping an open mind about what you do want.
Oh wow! I love stories like that. I had a client who had a similar story with an antique crotch mahogany chest that was covered in shabby chic gloppy white paint.
She got it for $500 bucks at a shop in NYC (SoHo) and I had my refinisher pick it up. He called me up a few days later, all excited because he said that this 18th c. piece would really be worth at least $5,000 when he was finished with it! And it was quite magnificent sitting majestically in her 2-yr-old son’s yellow bedroom!
I paint junk furniture, but had to stop looking at paint jobs on the net b/c my teeth hurt from grinding them whenever i saw a lovely piece of old furniture before pix and knew the piece was going to be ruined w/ paint.
Even when paint is removed, the piece still ends up as refinished, when the original finish is so very important.
(Though a good refinisher can do wonders, and museum quality is beyond expecting for most of us).
With all the junk around since thrift shops are everywhere, why do untutored people still want to paint great wood/veneer instead of turning it into potential firewood when the paint phase passes?
(This will pass, I know, since i ruined a couple of good small pieces way back when the “refinishing” was done with avocado colored paint. 1960s wasn’t it? There’s a reason folks say “what goes around comes around.” )
I thought about the too. Refinished antiques do lose a lot of their value. However, as I recall, the piece was also fairly rare and this guy is a genius restorer is a better term. The finish was gorgeous! Not at all like anything new I’ve ever seen.
As for painting pieces that were not meant to be.
Guilty as charged.
Mahogany. I would say from the early 1800s– maybe earlier with the original glass. So cool! But I desperately wanted it to be pale. Now, I did not slap on a lot of paint. Nosiree, I hired a decorative artist who spent an entire week – 50 hours (yes, it cost a pretty penny) and in the end, 16 years later, am still in love with my Gustavian-style bookcase. I used to joke if the house were on fire I’d grab the cat and the bookcase! Oh, and of course, the screen!
But, but, but…while I get your thinking, the paint phase will not be passing. Painted furniture has been around ever since they invented paint.
And in the era of my piece, much fine furniture was painted. So, while yes, there’s a trendy thing going on, it’s also an enduring classic. But it depends on what else is going on and how it’s handled. And yes, often, not-so-great.
Love all your mirror choices! Mirrors add so much interest and light on walls & there are so many cheap ones nowadays (though of course, the antique ones are more beautiful!) The one good thing about a cheap mirror is that they are often light– which makes it easier to hang it up in a non-damaging way in a rental apartment. I just got this cheap mirror from Zara Home and my goodness, it looks great: https://www.zarahome.com/us/convex-mirror-with-gold-frame/convex-mirror-with-gold-frame-c0p300276047.html. The opposite of an investment piece, but it’s under $100 and once it’s on the wall it looks fantastic.
I love convex mirrors. And that one for a 100 bucks isn’t bad. I’ll never forget, one time when I was visiting Mariette-Himes Gomez (then) shop in NYC – oh wow. Maybe 25 years ago? She had these darling (as in petite in size) convex mirrors on the wall. Well, I turned the tag over and each one was about $12,000!!!
Always enjoy your blog. Have to take exception to your description of men in general in today’s post. My husband is appreciative and encouraging in all my decorating dreams. Other men I know are the same. Agreed that many men are not, but have to think the % favor those who enjoy a beautiful home/interiors.
Finally, a beautiful mirror at Home Depot? I don’t think so….and bet you agree…but can’t say so.😊
Well, I guess my lame attempt at satire aimed to make Suzi feel better, fell flat for you.
My wasband (ex husband) is THE nicest, most supportive, appreciate, encouraging man on the planet. Couldn’t believe how lucky I was that I was married to this gem. That is… until I discovered his “other life” that he left open on my laptop, one soul-annihilating night in the summer of ’06. It took me a very long time to right the ship, but I finally realized in 2011 that there isn’t enough chocolate cake (home-made, store bought, or otherwise) on this good earth to satiate that man, plus a profound need to eat copious amounts of it in secret, (unless he gets sloppy). That didn’t work so well for me, so I left.
And yes, the mirrors at HD suck.
Currently I’m loving large round mirrors with a very slim/minimal frame. They look so clean & modern.
I like those too.
Statements like “All mirrors are tacky” stretch my almost nonexistent patience to the limit. 😉
History is littered with all manner of imaginative and stunning mirrors that are works of art.
Laurel, that Furlow Gatewood mirror is beautiful. I can see a slight difference in the ears between that one and the Wisteria one. But Wisteria’s is otherwise a great match!
I need to look at the deer’s head again! It is funny. I had saved the mirror and knew that I wanted to include some Furlow in this post and it was only after I was well into writing it, that I realized what was going on; at least consciously.
Hello Laurel, When an aunt was downsizing she shipped some things to us, including a large rococo mirror whose frame was badly damaged in transport, with many of its curlicues broken off. Although we were given a box of fragments, it was clear that the mirror was not complete. Instead of restoring it, we detached some more pieces to restore symmetry, and ended up with a simpler, more classical mirror that we like much better.
What a great story! I’m far more of the Louis XVI type myself.
What a great post! I just love your blog-packed with great stuff and written with great style! Thank You! You’re Great!
Thanks so much Erika!
Gorgeous vignettes! On the subject of husbands, that could be a whole blog post. Chocolate cake does it? Really? I’m going to try that. Me: Chinoiserie and all things English. Him: Acrylic crocheted 1970s afghans and paint by number art. *Not ironically.* Not in any Etsy wink wink kind of way. Like he LOVES this stuff and wants to be surrounded by it. I’m winning the war right now, but grudgingly. He gets veto power, (no art we can agree on). I guess this is why there are man caves. (Next house. We live in a two-bedroom apartment now.)
Chocolate cake is the answer, huh?
On the subject of mirrors — we have our original mirrored closet doors, wall to ceiling, ala the 70s. They’ve grown on me. (It’s a mid century modern interior. The husband loves them.) Oddly, I like the doors, but I do not like a whole wall that is a mirror. We should all live in stately English homes with tasteful antique mirrors. Sigh.
About the cake…
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