Living Space: Let mirrors magnify the beauty of your yard or patio
Mirrors can solve a variety of decorating problems. They can bring in a beautiful view from outdoors, make a room feel lighter and brighter, and open up a dark corner. Large mirrors can make a room look twice its normal size. But mirrors don't just have to stay indoors, you can use them creatively outside, too.
One of the hottest trends of the past few years is the outdoor "room." In such spaces, mirrors can be used much the same way as they are indoors. Have an outdoor fireplace? Place a mirror over it. A distressed mirror looks posh in an outdoor setting.
If your mirror is too shiny, give it an antique finish by coating the back of the glass with paint stripper. Let sit for 10 to 15 minutes then scrape the silver away with a scraper. Reapply until you get the amount of distressing you want. You may want to distress the frame, too.
Expand your space
Use a stand-up mirror to take advantage of a pretty view or reflect a special feature in your yard, such as a pool, fountain, flower garden, tree or topiary. If your yard or patio is small, you can instantly double the size by placing a mirror against a wall or fence.
Plant vines to grow over a mirror. Small bits of the glass will show through and create the illusion that the garden continues on and on. Try hanging a mirror over a seating group, just as you would a sofa indoors.
For al fresco dining, create your own mirrored chandelier. Suspending a mirror over the table will instantly double the illumination. Simply turn the mirror to face the table, and hang it from the ceiling using wire and a hook. Screw eye hooks into the mirror at various points around the frame.
Use these to dangle crystal beads or hang candles like the Raindrop hanging candle holders ($5, shopwildthings.com/hacaho). If you have electricity, you can also run twinkle lights around the outside of the mirror.
Illusion and safety
If your garden is fenced or walled and seems small, frame it out to create a doorway with 1 inch by 4 inch lumber and paint. Insert a sheet of mirror in the frame, making sure the edges are under the framing. Add rocks or gravel to disguise the bottom edge. Guests will swear that your secret garden or patio extends farther than it actually does.
Don't forget that wherever mirrors are placed, it's a good idea to make sure that sunlight won't be reflected in a way that could blind someone. Mirrors should also be adequately anchored so they don't blow over in stormy weather. If you're worried about breaking glass, opt for mirrored plastic. You'll get the same reflection with fewer safety concerns.
Kathryn Weber is a home and decorating columnist and publishes the Red Lotus Letter feng shui ezine. For more information, contact Weber through her website, redlotusletter.com.