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Mirrored walls bring sparkle to decor


Q: I am thinking about installing floor-to-ceiling mirrored wall panels as part of a renovation project for an old but spacious bathroom. Can you give me some suggestions on how best to use these types of mirrors? Also, what sort of wall-covering would go well with them?

A: Floor-to-ceiling mirrors produce such a dramatic decorative effect that there's no point in installing only one or two of them. I would place these panels on as much of the room's wall surface as possible in order to create a kaleidoscope pattern of refracted images.

In the example presented in the photograph, the mirrors were bordered with polished chrome stripping around the door and window frames. Visually, this serves to define the mirrors' edges. Functionally, it helps protect the glass from scratching and nicking. Interior designer Bebe Winkler colored this setting in subtle tones of gray and white that are endlessly reflected in the mirrored walls. The bright sheen of the reflective surface forms a contrast to the white Italian ceramic tile on the floor and lighting fixtures. And the multiple images receding into infinity serve to emphasize the variations in the room of brightness and shadow.

Overall, the effect of this interplay of light and color combinations is to make the room seem large and sparkling. As you may already have gathered, I don't advise applying wall-covering in this sort of design scheme. The unavoidable result of mirrored walls is a more expansive sense of space. Using a different material on an adjacent wall, or even on part of a mirrored wall, will make the room look as though it's partitioned. And since you're lucky enough to have a large bathroom to begin with, why introduce a dividing element? I don't mean to suggest, however, that your bathroom must be done in the same black-and-white scheme as shown here.

Additional color can be introduced through the tiles, cabinetry and fixtures as well as in accessories such as towels and a clear vase full of flowers. Textures can also be varied to provide some relief from so much shininess. For example, marble could be used on the floors, tub surround or counters.

In the end, the stylistic direction you take will depend on your personal preferences and budget considerations. You might even decide to paint one of the walls if the simple yet elegant approach shown here is not to your liking. But because the mirroring technique creates such fanciful effects, you may want to enliven the setting with a more magical touch -- like giving the ceiling a trompe l'oeil rendition of the sky, complete with twinkling stars or puffy clouds.

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