Mirrors are one of the most misused, abused and overused items in the world of home decorating. They’re everywhere that they shouldn't be and nowhere they should be…
How about those friggin’ “sunburst” mirrors…did u ever see anything go viral as much as they have? Talk about overdone…

And then there’s those crappy “antiqued-glass” mirrors, can you get any more 90’s ????? Do it right or don’t do it at all…

Ironically, I love mirrors!!! Good ones in special places, used wisely or conservatively.

The best use of a mirror is for utilitarian purposes e.g.: ones that create space, reflect light, create a believable illusion, or placed where one can actually use them.

As the Arbiter of Good Taste I have some rather strict rules about mirrors and their use:

1. A mirrored wall is great only when it creates an illusion of space, or an optical illusion…not just to have a mirrored wall which duplicates the clutter in the room.

2. A Foyer or Vestibule should always have a mirror; guests like to check themselves out before entering a room full of people, especially if they've come in from a rain or windstorm.

(Source: Joseph Paul Davis)

3. Dressing rooms should have full-length, wide-as-possible mirrors, not those shitty Walmart 12” x 48” ones you nail to the back of the door. Get as large a mirror as you can. Maybe a whole wall, or have the closet doors fully mirrored by a pro. 

(Source: Elle Decor)

4. Bathrooms need good, usable mirrors, not ones that are cutesy and have about eight square inches of glass. The bathroom mirror should be situated so that someone 42” tall up to 6’ can see themselves without stretching or hunching.

(Source: Joseph Paul Davis)

5. NEVER mirror the entire ceiling, ever at all…period.

6. Mirrored back-splashes in kitchens are only good in kitchens that are rarely used for cooking. The spots and spatters on the glass make it look two times dirtier and are impossible to get grease off of effectively. But they do look fabulous!

7. ONE wall-hung mirror per room only!

8. Mirrored walls are NEVER, EVER to be in 12” x 12” place-n-press squares it doesn't get anymore ‘Target’ than that…

9. Outdoor mirrors must be washed often or have Rain-X applied frequently!
10. NEVER mirror opposing walls, it looks like the ‘fun-house’ on the boardwalk and will have a green-ish cast all the time, and no one looks good in green light…


A good wall mirror can be above a table, mantle or a pair flanking a doorway or something special. Ones that open up a narrow hallway or reflect light into a odd dark corner are wonderful.

Most people when buying mirrors err on the side of buying one too ornate hoping it will imply a level of taste….. uhhh… NO!

If possible when buying mirrors, buy a fabulous antique one. Not a Victorian one as they’re always wayyy too ornate and clunky looking. Depending on your look, get an English Georgian one, a French Louis one, or even one from the mid-20th century. The secret to a great mirror is SIZE! Don’t spend a shit-load of money on a fabulous small mirror and think it will be OK above the fireplace or buffet just because it’s “good” and cost a lot of money.

The mirrors above demonstrate how the “visual weight” of the mirror needs to compliment the “visual weight” of the piece it's over. A “focal point” needs to be just that, your focus (its not ‘squinting’ point). 
The mirrors below also show you how you can have a mirror fabricated to work in a space, create openness without mirroring the whole wall.

Designer wholesalers have mirrors for thousands of dollars…if you have that kinda dough, fine pay it. If you want a bargain, you gotta dig for it. Of course I love “the hunt”…

There are scores of good, well priced reproduction mirrors available on the online market, shown below.


You can’t swing a cat without hitting a shitty mirror in today’s mirror crazed decorating market. The ones with goofy George-Jetson asymmetrical frames or ones covered in shells or hammered tin. My favorites are the extruded plastic ones in Rococo form - gilded to look like they belong in a Trump property….all for $89. whaaaat???

That being said….there are some ‘plastic’ framed mirrors that have superb lines and scale. I like to get them and paint them in a flat antique-white paint then distress them a bit. This is especially chic against wall-covering or a colored wall.

Oh and by the way…when you see a mirror e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e don’t get that one…That pivoting mirror from Waterworks which has now been knocked off by Home Depot and Target...ad-nauseum…is just sooo overdone. Or, those mosaic mirrors with small angled mirrors in one frame with all different angles, etc.....ugh...sooo Pier-1.

No…..any questions?


Used conservatively, they can be a wonderful trompe l’oeuil “moment” in a garden. Add a little depth to a small Charleston or Georgetown garden. Recently I placed an (plastic) elegant mirror over a stone console outside by someone’s pool. It made great sense as most like to get their hair combed out after a swim or adjust our swim-suits.


A wall which is mirrored and no one 'gets' that its mirrored right away is a successful mirror. Again, a trompe l’oeuil effect. This subliminal effect can create the illusion of space without the passé “mirrored wall” look.

(Source: Joseph Paul Davis)

The dining room above is in a home that I staged to be sold in Palm Beach. The space had no windows...I know, duh, right? Anyhow, I mirrored the back wall and the butlers pantry door to seamlessly reflect the living room windows and bring in some light as it was obviously a dark room.

The potted palm in the corner actually contributes to the illusion as it breaks the reflection of two buffets, etc.
The room below is in an ocean front residence that I wanted to repeat the sky colors in the room, so I designed a high back banquette and mirrored above it. This makes the room feel huge, and creates an illusion of another room behind.

(Source: Joseph Paul Davis)
The photo below shows another condition where a mirrored wall helps the rooms dimensions or shortcomings; this very long and narrow family room with the skinny long windows at the end needed to be wider or it would have looked like a hallway. The mirrored wall above the built-ins gives the room breadth without feeling like it has a mirrored wall when you enter.

(sorry for shitty photo, I took it - not a pro!)


One place are condos where people mirror the back wall of a long skinny living dining room; in their minds it brings the light to the back of the room, however, it only exacerbates the problem, creating a very long skinny room.

The room above shocks me... the mirrored wall, which was poorly installed using narrow pieces (creating more seams) is reflecting all that chazerai, the books, colors and patterns.. it's just exacerbating the cluttered look, creating a very 'Sanford and Sons' look.

Another hideous invention is the beveled mirror strip used to cover the seams of a large mirrored wall….WTF? Hide a hairline seam with a 4” beveled strip that catches and reflects light? 

Riiiight…good thinking!


The sinks below have sinks and their mirrors installed in front of windows allowing the natural light in. The contemporary one on the left is hung over the vanity by small chrome-plated chains from the ceiling. The one on the right I had to make the window jambs wide enough to allow for the Venetian blinds and the mirror to be inset into the casing.

Below, in this blue bathroom I mirrored the entire wall, into which I inserted the fully-mirrored medicine cabinets (Kohler/Robern) and then placed the glass sink in front of the wall creating this wonderful illusion of a floating glass top with no architectural distractions.

(Source: Joseph Paul Davis)
The divine powder room on the right has that fabulous serpentine sink base and Venetian glass mirror above it and very simple, with solid wall-covering. The perfect alchemy of swank and restraint. If the wall-covering were patterned it would then be pushy and overdone.


My favorite way to use mirrors is by using them in a "tromp l'oeuil" (Fr: fool the eye) manner. Below are two spaces, the one on the left is a dark small apartment with poor natural light. I placed mirrors behind the bookshelves (which I often do) making them "visually lighter" and removing the heavy "look" of a wall of books. The wall seems to recede and gives an increased breadth to the space.

The room on the right is a very large living room, long with deep exterior roof eaves and very little natural light. If the end wall were to be mirrored, it would have looked like a huge, dark, cavernous space. I mirrored it and then draped over it with a diaphanous curtain to create an illusion of lightness. The few windows softly, albeit abstractly reflect in the mirror, the white fabric reflects the light, and at night, the lamps and other illuminated items sparkle in this mysterious reflective wall.

(Source: Joseph Paul Davis)


Isn't that thing about mirrors in a bedroom being 'sexy' dead now? God, I hope so...it looks sooo trashy when they're in specific places...

BUT, bedrooms are small and need light and space too. It's just knowing how to do it the right way. The two bedrooms below had architectural problems that were tough but not insurmountable.

The modern blue-gray bedroom has ocean views and those damn angled corners (which I hate). So, I mirrored the angled corners and put the bedside tables in front of them, and upholstered the wall between them to the ceiling. This treatment reflected light and views into the bedroom, the upholstered wall connected the two and made it feel like one large bed wall.

The traditional beige bedroom only had one long wall, but it was interrupted by a support pilaster (half-column) two-thirds in from the end, interrupting the "bed wall."

By placing the bed in the center with the pilaster immediately adjacent to the bed, and framing out the one wall 4" to cover the pilaster, then mirroring both sides of the bed one couldn't tell the mirrored walls were at two different planes.

(Source: Joseph Paul Davis)


Occasionally you need the light or space a mirrored wall offers, but you may want an additional punch. I love mirrors mounted ON mirrors, or paintings mounted on them. Its a very simple process using Velcro.


Below are two examples of what I think are poor uses of mirrors. The dining room on top has two bulls-eye mirrors over two bookcases. I think they're too small for the walls. Instead, two large, vertical rectangular mirrors or taller cabinets would've been better. The two small, albeit bold mirrors and the soft painting are competing, especially in a room which has all of the furniture under-scaled...

The dining room on the bottom has that big-ass "Trump" inspired mirror from 'Mirrors-are-us."

a: Why have a brightly gilded mirror in a rustic looking space?
b: A mirror should always (99% of the time) be vertical, NEVER wider than tall.
c. Why is it leaning? So the diners can see the ceiling?

Remember, seven years bad luck if you don't listen to me about mirrors...