Home Hacks

Real Solutions: The Big Mirror

February 26, 2015

Every home is filled with unique design puzzles, from figuring out how to make do with a tiny room (or fill a giant one) to finding that rug, wall-hanging, or piece of furniture to bring it all together. Here's where we share real solutions, through design success stories in the homes of Food52 team members.

Today: Our Managing Editor Kenzi Wilbur transforms a white, blank wall with an artfully framed mirror she found abandoned in a thrift shop.

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Some people look at a white wall and see possibility. I see fear.

I see responsibility. Whatever I choose to fill that great, big blank with is a statement. What will it say about me? Is it too loud? Too colorful? Do I even like sculpture, or do I just think I should? If empty walls could talk, they’d keep mum. Adorned walls perform soliloquies.

Here’s my solution: If you decide to hang a mirror, you only have to make a statement with the frame. Big, sweeping panes of reflective glass are like answering a tough question with a clever one: They feel noncommittal yet also perfect -- they save you from that liminal space between saying too much or saying too little. (That they help small rooms feel large becomes almost a fringe benefit.)

I found this little number tucked away behind an old road sign in the basement of an antiques shop. It didn’t look like this then. It was covered in dirt and shoddy wood glue, fitting in nicely with the dank cement and creaking garage relics. For these reasons, I bartered -- with the money I saved, I bought sandpaper. 

And that’s my under-qualified design tip #1: Be the change you want to see in your thrifty finds. See potential, and then sand like a madwoman.

Tip #2? Introduce that big white wall to that mirror. Watch it transform your room.

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It's here: Our game-changing guide to everyone's favorite room in the house. Your Do-Anything Kitchen gathers the smartest ideas and savviest tricks—from our community, test kitchen, and cooks we love—to help transform your space into its best self.

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • ninastrauss
  • amysarah
  • AntoniaJames
  • Amanda Sims
    Amanda Sims
  • Kenzi Wilbur
    Kenzi Wilbur
Kenzi Wilbur

Written by: Kenzi Wilbur

I have a thing for most foods topped with a fried egg, a strange disdain for overly soupy tomato sauce, and I can never make it home without ripping off the end of a newly-bought baguette. I like spoons very much.


ninastrauss February 27, 2015
can't we keep food 52 to cooking, recipes and techniques?
amysarah February 26, 2015
Big mirrors are a good old designer trick to brighten a room and make it feel larger. But one thing: a large framed mirror is often quite heavy, so when hanging it, make sure it's well supported - especially with gyp board walls (typical in newer construction.) Learned this the hard way years ago.
Kenzi W. February 26, 2015
Yes! Very good point.
AntoniaJames February 26, 2015
Mirrors also add enormous amounts of light to a room. And they make it so easy to give yourself a last minute check before you leave the house. Love mirrors, especially in dining rooms and front hallways. ;o)
Amanda S. February 26, 2015
So impressed by your "v" impressive sanding abilities.
Kenzi W. February 26, 2015
Elbow grease!! Also that of very helpful and loving parents (I found this when I was home for the holidays). So I guess tip #3 is: Enlist help.