Want to know a secret? I love mirror. I love mirrored walls, mirrored doors, mirrored screens, mirrored furniture, and mirrors on a wall. (I don't, however, do mirrored ceilings.) Am I a narcissist? Do I like to admire my reflection? Well, no. OK, so maybe a little.
What I'm drawn to most is mirror that has something interesting going on. Think smoked or antiqued mirror or better yet verre églomisé. And mirror that has been incorporated into a room's architecture really pushes me over the edge- in a good way. What I find a shame is that so few artisans or designers are doing unique things with mirror today. (An exception is my friend Ray Goins who is a master at verre églomisé, but that's a post for another day.) Back in the 1920s, 30s and 40s, mirror really was the height of sophistication, and the imaginations of furniture craftsmen, architects, and designers knew no bounds when it came to using it. Take, for example, this door:
Now, a door like this could not have been in the apartment of a milquetoast. Instead, it graced the New York apartment of screen legend Gloria Swanson circa 1928. I can't quite figure out where the door actually is or how it opened, but that's not the point. The mirrored panels were outlined in steel molding, and in the middle was an electric fountain backed with a bright gold niche. Yes, the fountain shows questionable taste, but hey, it was Gloria Swanson. And you have to admit it was pretty creative.
Above is an outdoor ballroom designed by Nancy McClelland, a very talented and prominent designer whose name has been somewhat forgotten through time. That rather rotund fountain, the shell above the door, and the stylized tree were all made from mirror mosaic. This is really pretty fantastic. Gaudy? A bit. Do I want it on my balcony? No. But can you just imagine how this outdoor ballroom looked at night with guests attired in dinner jackets and satin bias-cut gowns, champagne coupes in hand, dancing among the mirrored decorations? Now tell me, when have you seen anyone go to this much trouble lately to do something different?
OK, so this example above might be more to your taste. A bedroom in Paris c. 1936 in which the door and window frames, the radiator covers, and tables were covered in mirror. I'm not so crazy about the commodes (or are they the radiator covers?) with the strips of mirror on them, but that door...perfection. That was some glamorous architecture!
And finally, a dining room from 1941. The mirrored fluted pilasters framed panes of mirror. The diamond inset behind the clock was a nice touch.
If mirroring walls, doors, and radiator covers seems a bit complicated, you could always buy a mirrored screen like the one at top, available from David Duncan Antiques. It's obviously not the type of mirror in which to preen, but it looks pretty smashing nonetheless.