Mirrors have long been talked about in interior design spaces as the easiest way to make a room feel larger. And while that is certainly true, in order to make them work for you and your space, it is important to understand why they work, and the best way to place them around your home to get the best results.
According to architect Cliff Tan (who you might know as “that Feng Shui guy on TikTok”), the most important thing to remember is that mirrors obviously reflect things, so you must be careful with your placement.
They create an illusion of depth and space
Because they help bounce the light and reflect the space they are in, it’s important to curate whatever view the mirrors are reflecting. “The reflection in the mirror depends on where you stand, but we tend to be surprised at how limited our positions are in our homes,” Tan says. “We are always walking around the same pathways, coming through the same doors, and looking at the mirror from the same angles. Based on that, you should hang it where it reflects a nice view.”
What Tan means by that is you don’t want your mirror to reflect ugly things, like your stove or your laundry. Instead, hang them in a way that purposely doubles the nice, pretty stuff, such as flowers and artwork. Size is also important here: if the intention is to open up the space, one very large mirror will do a much better job than smaller ones.
They act as a focal point and create visual interest
But how does it work, you may be asking? Essentially, by breaking up the wall and creating visual interest. “A wall is a blank, blank space. You look at it, and your eyes just stop right there,” Tan says. “With a mirror, you can look through it, and because it entertains your view, it makes it feel like the room didn’t end there.”
The effect also varies depending on your decorating preferences, however. For darker rooms, because they create a lot of contrast, Tan says “it becomes a little like a window. A mirror in a dark room is like a glowing lamp, whereas in a light one, it just expands it.”
A few bonus tips
Practices like Feng Shui advise against hanging a mirror in your bedroom—or at least, not where you can see it from your bed. If creating a harmonious space that flows well is important to you, that is something to keep in mind.
Lastly, mirrors are often really expensive, so we asked Tan if there’s really that much difference between a $50 and a $300 one if they are roughly the same size. “The mirror itself makes no difference,” he says. “It’s more so the frame that costs more or less.” Since what it’s reflecting is more important, the frame then becomes secondary. In fact, Tan recommends buying secondhand when possible, as you might be able to find quality frames for a fraction of the retail price. And who doesn’t like the sound of that?