In the world of home decor, mirrors can be a magical design tool. They can brighten a dark room. They can make a tiny space look much bigger. And they can add an affordable touch of glamour to even the most ordinary of spaces.
But you shouldn’t hang mirrors just anywhere. Decorating with mirrors comes with a few rules, some of which pertain to feng shui, or the art of using space and alignment in the home to promote good energy. And some of them simply pertain to simple standards of common sense or good taste.
For the best possible look (and good vibes!), keep the following do’s and don’ts in mind when working with mirrors.
1. Don’t hang mirrors where you sleep
Yes, mirrors can make a space look bigger and add some shine to an otherwise bland room. But your goal in the boudoir is restorative sleep—and a mirror can get in the way of this.
“Because mirrors are a wide glass pane that reflect what happens in a space, they’re considered ‘activators’ and aren’t optimal for a room that should be used for rest and romance only,” explains Katie Weber, feng shui expert and owner of the e-zine Red Lotus Letter.
Homeowners should nix mirrored closet doors, large wall mirrors, and even a vanity above the dresser.
“All of these end up doubling the activity in the room and can disrupt your sleep,” Weber says.
Carole Marcotte, a designer at Form & Function in Raleigh, NC agrees. “Not only does a mirror in the bedroom mess with the energy, I just don’t think I could sleep knowing a sharp glass object was overhead,” she says.
2. Don’t place a mirror opposite the front door
Here’s a feng shui lesson: The ancient Chinese design philosophy claims that if you hang a mirror across from your front door, the mirror will push opportunity and money out the door. That means your home could be starved for income and you’ll have to work harder to keep up, Weber says.
“And if you’re trying to sell, mirrors that reflect the front door can symbolically push potential buyers out of the house rather than draw them in,” she continues.
Instead, Marcotte suggests, hang your foyer mirror on the same wall as the front door.
3. Don’t hang a mirror above a fireplace (or anywhere too high)
When Amy Bell, a designer at Red Chair Home Interiors in Cary, NC, sees a mirror hung above a fireplace, she cringes.
“These mirrors are usually placed too high, and they end up reflecting the ceiling fan,” she laments. Hang a colorful piece of art instead, and place your mirror on another wall.
And here are things you should do with mirrors
1. Do max out your use of floor mirrors
Not every picture needs to be on your wall—and the same is true of mirrors.
“Large, decorative mirrors can be placed on the floor in a leaning position,” suggests Bee Heinemann, home design expert at Vant Wall Panels. “Many of the oversized ones can double as furniture while giving you the same depth you want from a mirror on the wall.”
2. Do pretend your mirror is a window
Have a dim living space? Dark hallways, bedrooms that receive little natural light, or rooms with no windows at all are perfect candidates for a mirror. Place them where they’ll reflect light, either on the wall perpendicular to the window or directly opposite it, Bell says. Go the extra mile with a windowpane mirror to make it truly feel like, well, a window.
“Lighting is one of the greatest of all activators in the feng shui world, so a large mirror can help amplify any light you do have in your home,” Weber notes. And don’t forget, a buyer will often judge a home on how much natural light it gets.
3. Do display a mirror in the dining room
“The dining room represents the wealth a family has acquired, including gleaming crystal, china, silver, and a chandelier, along with the bounty of family and friends gathering for holidays and parties,” Weber says.
A mirror here doubles this joy and activates it—and who wouldn’t want more of that? If your dining space is on the small side, ditch any tall china cabinets or hutches, Bell says.
“I’m in favor of a sideboard topped with an oversize mirror,” she says.
4. Do use multiple mirrors in the bathroom
You almost can’t overdo mirrors in the bathroom, so definitely go to town in this space.
“An easy, instant fix to a claustrophobic bathroom is to swap out a small mirror for a larger one,” Bell says. Plus the common surfaces found in baths (shiny tile, chrome, porcelain) naturally play off a mirror’s reflection.
5. Do use mirrors to showcase a beautiful view
The only thing better than a gorgeous view is two of them, Weber says.
“In feng shui, a pretty view is believed to bring the home good fortune—and this fortune is magnified when a mirror is placed opposite it,” she says.
Create more of a good thing by positioning a mirror to reflect rose bushes, a view of a lake, the mountains, or even the trees in your yard.