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The Mirror Wall Is In—Again

Jul 04, 2023

By Hannah Martin

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It's one of design's great tricks: Want to make a room feel more open and light-filled without removing a single wall? Just add a mirror wall. (Sure, a single mirror can contrive similar results, but where's the all-out fun in that?)

It's not exactly a new trick. Some examples that come to mind are the mirrored sunroom that reflected the verdant garden in Elsie de Wolfe's French country home, Villa Trianon, and the dazzling mirrored salon in the Paris apartment of Valerian Rybar and Jean-François Daigre, which graced the cover of AD in October 1989. But lately, we’ve been noticing a particular variation on the space-expanding solution: a grid of mirrors—often antiqued, rather than super polished and reflective—that covers a large swath of one wall. It opens a room while still achieving a certain decorative neutrality.

Custom mercury glass panels by Stephen Cavallo line one wall in interior designer Bunny Williams's Manhattan living room.

On first glance, you might not even notice it's there, but "it doubles the width of the kitchen," explains AD100 interior designer Nate Berkus of the antique mirror he and husband Jeremiah Brent used to cover a wall they could not remove (it houses flues for multiple apartments) in their New York City pad. "The kitchen is one of the things we love most about the apartment. Being able to see it regardless of which direction you’re facing makes us so happy."

For other examples, see Sienna Miller's English cottage, Thatch, in which a similar rendition opens things up in the cozy dining room. Or Bunny Williams's Manhattan apartment, where a grid of custom mercury glass panels by Stephen Cavallo line the living room wall. For a wilder riff, you might recall the mirror wall lounge (complete with a stripper-slash-fireman's pole) in Alexandre and Sofía Sanchez de Betak's SoHo loft, which starred on the cover of AD's February 2018 issue.

A patchwork of antique mirror opens things up in Sienna Miller's cozy cottage dining room, decorated by Gaby Dellal.

A large mirror opens up a dining room in Richmond, Virginia, designed by Bunny Williams Interiors.

"It helps to open up space and reflect light," explains Elizabeth Lawrence, partner at AD100 firm Bunny Williams Interior Design, who has used this trick in a variety of projects—including a formal dining room in Richmond, Virginia, as well as a Southampton, New York, living room where it disguises a TV.

Interior designer Gray Walker recently worked on a project in Charlotte, North Carolina, with a mirror-paneled hallway (designed by the project's architect, Ken Pursley). "Mirrors make a space feel larger while also adding an element of drama and glamour," Walker says. "They can create windows that may not exist."

Custom mirrors by TG Glass Works line a wall in the dining area of Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent's West Village town house.

Sofía Sanchez de Betak descends into the mirror-paneled lounge of the SoHo loft she shares with her husband, Alexandre.

When it comes to the installation, each designer has their preference. In Lawrence's opinion, "One solid mirror can be a bit dated and should be left to closet mirrors. Breaking it up into a grid adds design and interest." She advises using an antiqued mirror that isn't perfectly clear—"so people won't be distracted by checking their hair."

Walker pieced all the mirrored panels together in a move similar to what you see in Miller's home. "I like to use larger pieces of mirror with rosette spacers at the corners to create the feeling of an antique mirror on walls," Walker explains.

A mirror-paneled hallway in a Charlotte, North Carolina, home designed by Gray Walker and conceived by the project's architect, Ken Pursley.

Although many are quick to point out a mirror wall's usefulness in smaller spaces, the truth is it can flatter rooms of every dimension. (Walker even imagines it as a backsplash in a kitchen!) But it's Berkus and Brent who have truly tested out the theory: "We’ve used it in our dining room, our entry—even our little powder room to make it feel like a jewelry box," Brent explains. "It's such a beautiful, luminous detail that we find ourselves reaching for it when we want to add character and dimension to any sized space."