How to Use Mirrors to Make a Room Look Bigger

Is your home ready for a makeover? You can easily re-paint the walls, bring in new furniture or even update the flooring. The one thing that’s not so simple to fix is your square footage. In most cases, what you see is what you get. That being said, if what you see is small, you aren’t entirely boxed in. There are strategies that make a room look bigger than what the measuring tape says, one of which involves using mirrors. Ask any designer, and they’ll tell you adding wall or floor mirrors is an effective way to trick the eye and enhance your home.

Mirror Magic: How They Trick Your Eyes

There’s a real science behind mirrors; it’s physics, to be exact. You see, when rays of light shine from an object (your face) and onto a smooth surface (a piece of dark glass), they bounce back at the same angle. The image that’s created by these reflected light rays is what your eyes interpret.

Of course, not all surfaces – or even all smooth surfaces – reflect light. Some absorb or scatter it. This is why a banana appears yellow. Its surface absorbs every color except yellow, which is the spectrum of light that gets reflected back to you.

It’s also the reason you see a blurry version of yourself in a pool of water and a much more accurate reflection in your bathroom mirror. Your bathroom mirror is most likely made of clear glass that has a thin film of silver or aluminum. These metals create a smooth surface that reflects all visible colors of the spectrum.

So how does all this make a room look bigger?

The reflection you see in a mirror is an exact duplication. In other words, you are literally seeing double. When you apply that to your home, you get a mirror image of all the objects within the space. This gives the illusion that there is more to see, because you are actually seeing more.

3 Ways to Make a Room Look Bigger With Mirrors

The Idea: Add a Floor-Length Mirror

As counterintuitive as it may seem, certain large pieces of furniture and accessories can actually make a small room look big. Now, you don’t want too many oversized furnishings – there’s no room for that, anyway. But choose the most essential items, one of which should be a floor mirror.

A floor-length mirror offers a large reflective surface area, which means it can duplicate multiple aspects of your room. Just make sure you position the mirror correctly. When stood vertically in a corner, the mirror has a great vantage point of the entire room. Then again, other features of your room may dictate a different placement.

For instance, you may get more from the floor-length mirror if it’s placed directly across from a picture window. By reflecting natural sunlight, your room instantly feels brighter and more spacious. This is also true with dining room chandeliers. A large mirror hung level with a sparkly crystal fixture can help spread light and expand the corners of your room.

The Inspiration:

Long, rectangular Zevon Mirror hangs on slate-gray wall to make a room look bigger

Zevon Wall Mirror by Uttermost

At 75 inches tall and 45 inches wide, the Zevon Mirror is a truly oversized accessory. It would not only make a room look bigger, but in fact would draw your eye directly to it. The pieced-together fir wood frame is mesmerizing, especially in a modern home with clean lines and minimal decoration.

The geometric Crawford Wall Mirror serves as a headboard in a clean, white bedroom

Crawford Wall Mirror by Howard Elliott Collection

If you really want a light show, the Crawford Wall Mirror will upstage anything you’ve ever seen. Because of its varying dimension, light bounces from all angles. Though this unique arrangement does seem complex at first sight, it has an organized, geometric element that feels just right paired with neutral colors and pared-down spaces.

2. The Idea: Bunch Small Mirrors Together.

You don’t have to splurge on an oversized mirror to make a big impact. Several small mirrors – which often come with a much smaller price tag – can have the same effect. The key is uniformity. Unlike a gallery wall of art or photos, you don’t want to get too creative with the collection and spacing of your mirrors. Mixing square mirrors with round, or silver frames with antique brass, will only clutter the space.

To make a room look bigger, you want all the mirror frames to be the same shape and color. The arrangement also matters. For groups of four or more, consider organizing the mirrors in straight rows. If you’re only working with three small mirrors, you can play around with sizing and just tightly cluster them together.  

Pro tip – Remember the rule of three we talked about in our kitchen lighting guide. You always want to have at least three items in a group to maintain visual balance. This interior design trick applies to mirrors as much as it does pendant lighting.

The inspiration:

18 Davion Squares Wall Mirrors make a room with ornate antique furniture look bigger, not crowded

Davion Squares Wall Mirror by Uttermost

Ornate antique furniture can quickly crowd a small room, unless you pair these curvy pieces with a wall of straight-edged mirrors – like the Davion Squares. Between the square frames and beveled mirror edges, you get a repeating sequence of clean lines. And with a burnished silver finish, you can guarantee these small mirrors blend perfectly with your style.

9 Copper Tropea Rounds Wall Mirrors hang in three rows like a decorative gallery wall

Tropea Rounds Wall Mirror by Uttermost

Looking for a new point of view? The Tropea Rounds Wall Mirror will give you exactly that. Its small glass mirror is convex, which creates a panoramic-like reflection that will widen your perception. Meanwhile, the oxidized copper frame will expand your design vision. Use a series of Tropea Rounds to warmly welcome guests in your foyer.  

3. The Idea: Create a Faux Window.

Windows are known for bringing in light, which you need to help create a sense of openness. Unfortunately, not all rooms are blessed with a peek outside. Think about a powder room or basement, which tends to feel dark and dungy. These are the kinds of areas that are best served with a faux window. Faux windows are easily created with certain wall mirrors, which will amplify artificial lighting and duplicate the components within the room.  

There are wall mirrors that are framed to look exactly like window panes, which can be beautiful decorative accents. However, you can achieve a similar result from a wall mirror without sectional divides. As long as the mirror has a window-like shape and a wood frame that mimics molding, you’re on the right track.

The Inspiration:

Round Camelot Wall Mirror Hangs on textured living room wall above purple sectional sofa

Camelot Wall Mirror by Howard Elliott Collection

While you would most likely find a round window on a boat, the Camelot Wall Mirror works swimmingly as a pass-through in your home. It has a nice wide wood frame that is accented with a fish-scale texture in shimmering champagne-silver. Enjoy this mirror’s lightness in your foyer or casual, coastal-inspired living room.

Mirror the Effect

You don’t have to be a professional designer to employ the reflective power of mirrors. By following these interior design tricks, you can make a room look bigger in a matter of hours with just a hammer and a few nails. Best of all, you can use wall mirrors in any home – from traditional to contemporary. You’ve already sacrificed square footage; don’t cut yourself short on style, too.

1 Comment on How to Use Mirrors to Make a Room Look Bigger

  1. Tom Hillman
    June 19, 2020 at 7:16 am (3 months ago)

    Mirrors do wonders in reflecting the light and creating an ambient look of the room.

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