WHERE THEY LOOK BEST
How large a mirror you choose and where you put it depend on the size of the room and what you want the mirror to do. So start by defining your goal: expand space, multiply light, add drama - or all three. For example, to create the illusion of more space, use a few large panels. Interior designer Camille Waldron, of Camille Waldron Interiors in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, suggests eliminating seams, which lessen the space-stretching effect. If you must use more than one piece of mirror, use an odd number of panels. And, suggests Csaki, avoid dividing the wall evenly, or furnishings and light fixtures centered in the room will align with seams and call attention to them. For example, use three 4-ft.-wide mirror panels or one 6-ft.-wide panel flanked by two 3-ft.-wide panels on a 12-ft.-wide wall. Remember, the mirror must fit through all the doors that lead to the installation site. If adding drama is your top priority, try several narrow strips applied to walls or ceiling. To multiply the effect of light, be sure the light source is reflected in the mirror. Also consider installing lattice over the mirror—the mirror will reflect light and the lattice will diffuse it. And don't use smoked mirrors, which darken spaces. Also be sure you know what you're reflecting. For example, if you locate the mirror opposite a large picture window, is the view attractive? And will the mirror reflect glare elsewhere in the room? Find out by propping up a large framed mirror in the space. Waldron suggests you move it around for a day or two to be sure you're comfortable with the effect. And if you're adding a bathroom mirror, stay away from floor-to-ceiling installations. Begin the mirror at waist height or higher to avoid reflecting plumbing or the toilet. One final point: You'll find that less is more when it comes to mirrors. To avoid visual confusion, don't mirror more than two walls in the same room. GETTING IT INSTALLED
Glaziers are listed in the yellow pages under "Glass" and "Mirrors." Ask how long the company has been in business and, as always, check references for service level and work quality. Also make sure you get proof of insurance. Then narrow your choice by getting satisfactory answers to the following questions: Who will do the measuring? A professional should be responsible for this crucial phase. Cutting the mirror as little as 1/4 in. too short or narrow will create a visible gap that's hard to conceal and looks shabby. And cutting it even 1/4 in. too long will necessitate trimming. Because walls rarely are plumb, mirrors must also be shimmed during installation—often with a tarlike bedding compound—or they end up buckled and bowed. How are the edges finished? Smaller glazier shops often hand-polish mirror edges; larger companies polish with machines. Both methods ensure smooth, chip-free edges. Better mirror shops go a step further by coating the cut edges with sealant to keep moisture from getting through to the reflective back and eventually tarnishing or oxidizing the mirror. Sealed edges are a must when mirror is installed in a home in a humid climate or along a kitchen backsplash or bath vanity. How will the mirror be hung? Mirrors must be bonded to the wall with special mastic. Experienced installers know which mastic to use under what circumstances. Several factors determine the types of mastic that are used. Among them is the size of the mirror, whether it is on a wall or ceiling and the type of surface it's being installed over - painted or unpainted drywall, wood, tile or plaster. For safety's sake, manufacturers recommend that all unframed mirrors be installed with at least one type of mastic and a mechanical fastener, such as a decorative molding, J-channel, unobtrusive plastic or metal clips or screws. If plastic fasteners bother you, plan to install decorative light fixtures on the mirror. "The fixture fasteners will hold the mirror up should the glue ever fail," says Vinnie DeMauro, owner of Countryside Glass & Mirror in Waldwick, New Jersey. Or, have the mirror trimmed with wood molding that will hold it in place. Once the mirror is installed, look at the opposite ceiling line reflected in the mirror; you should see one continuous plane. "If the mirror looks wavy or there's a low spot, bulge or a broken plane, it wasn't installed correctly," DeMauro explains. With a quality installation and proper care, a mirror will stretch a space and brighten your home—and expand your visual horizons for years to come.
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