Framed mirrors have been used for centuries in many ways . They hang everywhere from the rooms of modest homes to the opulent spaces of grand palaces. Their reflective surfaces provide depth and sparkle by visually increasing the space of the room and by reflecting back and seeming to amplify the amount of light. Of course, mirrors also function in more utilitarian ways by allowing the viewer to see themselves.
Mirrors can be hung either framed or unframed but most mirrors, like paintings or other artwork, will be more pleasing if surrounded by a frame. There are many different types and styles of frames and a variety of materials from which frames can be made. Often antique frames are the best quality mirror frames and the most highly prized. To try to capitalize on this there are many sources for modern frames made to look old, some of which are quite expensive. These may look good from a distance but with closer viewing will fail to impress. Often the details are poorly executed and they are covered with imitation gold or silver leaf with a simulation of aging and patina that is excessive or unconvincing. Many of these frames are made hundred at a time overseas using molded plastic resins and may be marketed under the name of antique mirrors.
The superiority of an antique framed mirror will be apparent both from a distance and up close. These need not only be considered as suitable for older or historic interiors and are often used very suitably in contemporary surroundings.
The true antique mirror frame will have a sense of history, a “feel ” or a presence to it. This comes from from their being made by hand, one at a time with traditional materials that have achieved character through the passage of time. Many of these frames are authentically unique with no others having been made in that particular design or size.
Most antique frames are made of a wood base that has either been left plain, has been fully carved or has been embellished with applied ornament or other materials such as wood veneers, stone, metal and tortoise shell. The profile or shape of the moulding can range from the simple, linear and unadorned to the elaborately complex with highly sculpted surfaces with deep relief. The finishes can range from the stained or painted including faux finishes to the richness of gold or silver leaf. The truly outstanding characteristic of any antique frame will be how the materials and surfaces have subtly aged which is the hallmark of any fine antique. The value of this natural process of time is a noticeable complexity and and richness. The hand of time produces this appealing effect which is virtually unobtainable by any other means. On a fine antique frame this will include wear such as rubs, dents and perhaps minor losses along with the accumulation of dust and other airborne matter known as patina. On gold or silver leafed mirror frames the result will be a a mellow glow.
Using a style of framed mirror from the same period as the interior of the room it will hang in has the advantage of complimenting the architecture of the space and fitting well within it. Conversely, often antique framed mirrors also harmonize very well even in an ultra contemporary decor. There are some historic designs for antique frames which have a restrained or sleek and unadorned modern appearance which can fit right in. Or, sometimes an antique frame with a more exuberant appearance can be effectively used as a contrast between the interior space and it’s furnishings to create an energized focal point.
There is really no limit to the many different ways these antique framed mirrors can be used to accentuate and enliven any room. Their individuality and incomparable character will delight the discerning eye.