Oversized Mirrors in Architecture: The Illusion of Larger and Brighter Spaces
Humans have always been fascinated by reflections. Although they are no more than light bouncing back after striking a surface, there will always be something mystical and fascinating about them –whether it be a lake mirroring a beautiful landscape or a small hand mirror reflecting our face. This explains why some ancient cultures considered mirrors to be sacred objects with magical powers, while others associated them with portals leading to an unknown world. Since then, mirrors have evolved to adopt many valuable functions that are indispensable in everyday life, being found in cars, medical equipment and, of course, in countless architectural applications, especially in interiors. Experimenting with the reflection and perception of space has become an easy way for architects, designers and homeowners to transform any room. And when looking to maximize this impact, the power of exceptionally large mirrors is unparalleled. After all, the bigger the mirror, the bigger the impact.
We often hear that a mirror should not be more than two-thirds the size of the furniture below it. But as design continues to evolve and defy outdated norms, oversized mirrors that drastically exceed standard dimensions are more in trend than ever. Usually found in bedrooms, closets and common living areas, their popularity is a result of current demands in contemporary design: subtle sophistication, crisp lines, minimal furnishings, open spaces, a feeling of airiness and a great deal of natural light. An extra-large mirror adheres to these principles by reflecting huge amounts of light off the glass and back into the space, creating the illusion of bigger and brighter spaces. It also makes a bold, dramatic statement capable of elevating a room’s aesthetics, as well as serving the practical function of capturing our appearance. In this article, we explore these possibilities through a selection of oversized mirror typologies, a lot of which can also be found in the Architonic catalog.
Playing with light, texture and angles
One of the most commonly cited uses of designing with a large mirror is to generate a sense of amplitude, both to complement large rooms or to open up small, cramped environments. But besides changing our perception of space, the correct placement allows lighting to be improved and optimized. For example, if positioned in front of a window or near a light fixture, a mirror can perfectly catch the angle of light and bounce it throughout the room. The brighter the room, the better its appearance (and the healthier for the user).
Oversized mirrors can also create texture and, as a result, fabricate spatial illusions with interesting dimensions and depth. This can be accomplished primarily in two ways: by installing a textured mirror frame for a three-dimensional effect, or by locating the mirror in a way that it reflects a textured object –such as a rustic coffee table, a furry rug or an eye-catching sculpture. In that sense, thinking creatively and carefully about the angle and placement of an oversized mirror is crucial to achieving the desired effect. The possibilities are endless; making a narrow hallway appear double the size, projecting light into dark corners, accentuating architectural elements, directing attention by generating a focal point on the wall, or highlighting accessories, paintings and furniture pieces by reflecting them from different angles.
Versatility in formats and styles
Once placement is defined, it is important to consider the diversity of styles available in the market. Oversized mirrors can be frameless for a sleek, elegant look or include a heavy, vintage-inspired frame for a dramatic appearance. They may feature LED lights and come in various formats and shapes (rectangular, round or irregular geometries). Either in their frame or in attached furniture pieces, mirror systems can integrate materials that range from wood to metal. It is important to note, nonetheless, that not all reflective surfaces are made of glass. Of course, the classic glass mirror is perfectly effective, but the same mirroring effect can be attained using stainless steel with a mirror finish or adhesive reflective films, which allow professionals to easily clad walls, sections and surfaces.
To inspire architects, designers and homeowners who are looking to integrate oversized mirrors, below we dive into a selection of styles and formats that are ideal for contemporary residential settings. Many of these designs can be achieved with products from Architonic’s ‘Mirrors’ section.
Filling the wall
Mirrored walls were at their peak between the 70s and 90s, but contrary to popular belief, they are found in many contemporary settings, from entrance spaces to living rooms. Today, modern versions express the oversized trend in its maximum splendor; the mirror effect is maximized when a reflective surface encompasses a whole wall, visually expanding the size of entire rooms by making them appear twice as large.
When it can be complex to hang large mirrors or fill entire walls with reflective panels, classic free standing options are the ideal alternative. In fact, sometimes they are even the preferred choice for their strong aesthetic impact and functionality. With their impressive dimensions, these often double as statement pieces or bold pieces of art set to the ground. And because they don’t need to be drilled to the wall, they can be easier to move around in comparison to other formats (although many oversized versions can be quite heavy, of course).
Full-length, floor-to-ceiling mirrors are usually several centimeters taller than they are wide, allowing building occupants to see their full height through their reflection. Their vertical disposition means that they are great for capturing interesting details from a room’s floor and ceiling, such as intricate floor patterns or exposed structural beams.
Hiding the closet
Similar to filling the wall, this oversized mirror format clads an entire surface. But in this case, to cover –and, at the same time, hide– wardrobe or storage spaces. In some ways, adding a reflective surface attenuates the reduced floor space that a closet implies, contributing to the perception of a bigger room (with the added advantage of enabling users to take a look at their outfits). Mirrored closets are especially suitable for smaller bedrooms that benefit from this sense of openness and airiness, as well as for concealing storage elements that may interrupt the visual flow or style of a space.
Attached to the wall
Adding an extra-large wall-mounted mirror is a simple way to optimize space and create a clear focal point. Either attached to a vertical surface with adhesives or hung with brackets or wires, these work well when designers seek to save floor space or merely to draw attention to the wall. They don’t necessarily have to cover the entire wall to achieve the oversized effect, but must be large enough to create a big impact, often appearing disproportionate to the rest of the furnishings.
Oversized mirrors can be heavy, involve a large investment and usually require a lot of maintenance to keep their surface spotless. However, they clearly make a big difference that can certainly justify the hassle, ultimately contributing to brighter, better and seemingly larger spaces.
Visit Architonic’s catalog to discover a variety of mirror options.