Inviting Home - architectural products, home furnishings and home lighting

carved wood mirror with shell motif, antiqued medium walnut finish, antiqued silver-leaf accents and nine pieces of antiqued glass mirror
antique glass mirror
18th century French style carved wood mirror with leaf and scroll design, finished in antiqued gold leaf
French style mirror
Empire style carved wood decorative mirror with urn and leaf moti
Empire style mirror
hand-crafted in Italy carved wood mirror with shell design and mirrored insets. Decorative mirror is finished in antique gold leaf
carved wall mirror
18th century Venetian style carved wood mirror with distressed silver leaf finish and antiqued glass
Venetian style mirror
baroque style carved wood mirror with leaf and scrolls design. Mirror finished in antique gold leaf
Baroque style mirror

Architectural Use of Mirrors

Paintings of grand European residential interiors in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries depict rooms with mirrors built into the decorative structure. Important rooms were designed to incorporate architectural elements like doors, windows, and fireplaces into an overall scheme, where all the elements conspired to create a whole.

Full-height windows, tall doors with decorative panels over them, columns or pilasters, and chimney breasts were the vertical elements in the room. Horizontal elements like crown moldings, beamed or coffered ceilings, chair rails, and wainscot, were used to connect the vertical elements.

Assuming that the room was rectilinear, the overall effect was to create a kind of grid, which, in turn, created a paneled decorative structure for the room. The nature of the grid and panels may be particular to the exact moment and location-a French room decorated in 1810 may look considerably different than an English room of 1750-but all the elements would have been geometrically organized.

In many cases, some of the panels in the room would be mirrored. If the chimney breast is mirrored above the fireplace, it is called an over mantel mirrors. If the space between the windows is mirrored, it is called a pier glass, referring to the structural pier mirrors between the windows.

The most extravagant example of the architectural use of mirrors may be the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles in France. Though these examples may seem like they are from the distant past, far removed from our own houses, they are still active precedents for decoration. It is still true that the first place we think of placing a mirrors is over the fireplace and the next is between two windows.