If You Only Buy One Thing from Small/Cool, Make It An Optical Illusion

If You Only Buy One Thing from Small/Cool, Make It An Optical Illusion

One of the core tenets of the Small/Cool Experience is that you don’t need a large space to make a major impact. But if you’ve spent more time than ever inside your home — whether that’s 1,000 square feet or 250 square feet — you might be looking to expand your walls just a bit. How do you do that without obtaining remodeling permits? By taking cues from professional designers themselves, and adding large mirrors to your space.

It’s no secret that mirrors can help a space look and feel bigger, especially if you’re strategic about where you place them. In “Serenity Now,” Sweet July founder Ayesha Curry and Parisa O’Connell placed two identical floor-length mirrors from Ballard Designs across from each other, creating an optical illusion of space.

“The goal for creating this bedroom retreat was to showcase how neutral, calming tones can still translate into interesting design,” Curry said of the space. “One technique we used was symmetry to evoke a sense of serenity. We mainly focused on infusing texture rather than bold color, creating contrast through natural elements like wood and metal instead.” The neutral black finish and curved edges that define the Wilcox mirrors serve up that contrast without being too distracting.

Bobby Berk also used the Wilcox mirror to great effect in his room, “Warm Minimalism.” Instead of adhering it tightly to the wall, his room features a single mirror that leans slightly against its post, complementing the softer tones and round lines of the Kardiel sofa. “Spaces always feel more interesting when you juxtapose softer, more organic shapes, with rectilinear or geometric elements,” Berk said of his room — and the wooden accents certainly play against the mirror’s softly industrial feel.

Other mirrors also made their appearances in Small/Cool rooms. In “Classic Redux,” Noz Nozawa riffed on the idea of round mirrors by choosing two different styles — one gilded, vintage-inspired piece by Arhaus, and a smaller mirror with a tile frame by Serena & Lily — and juxtaposing them against each other as well as the square molding on the walls. The result is a contrast that is as surprising as it is effective, and as Nozawa told Apartment Therapy, “Layering patterns and colors is easier when you broaden what defines ‘neutral.’”

“The best designs evoke feelings of peace, warmth, and contentment,” Jaclyn Journey and Amanda Jacobs said of their room, “Moody Musings.” “Interesting patterns, rich fabrics, and lush textures are ingredients that lead to happiness and better living.” The wall mirror from Arhaus that lives above a striking root console table from Frontgate not only widens the space, but it reflects the Journey + Jacobs designers’ bold paint pick, Cherry Cola by BEHR.

If you want to use your mirror to help make your space look bigger, it helps to consider a light source before you place your find for good. Maybe you want to take a cue from Journey and Jacobs and place two candles in front of the glass so the light flickers across it, or place sconces or pendants directly above or nearby, as Curry and O’Connell, as well as Berk and Nozawa, did. Either way, you’ll make the most of your small space with minimal work but plenty of reward.

Ella Cerón

Lifestyle Editor

Ella Cerón is Apartment Therapy’s Lifestyle Editor, covering how to live your best life in the home you’ve made your own. She lives in New York with two black cats (and no, it’s not a bit).

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3 Tips for Styling Your Shelves, According to an Interior Designer

3 Tips for Styling Your Shelves, According to an Interior Designer

Savannah West

Home Assistant Editor

Savannah is a master binge-watcher and home cook. When she’s not testing new recipes or re-watching Gossip Girl, you can find her on Facetime with her grandma. Savannah is a news producer turned lifestyle blogger and professional homebody. She has a bachelors in journalism from Clark Atlanta University, a certification in Digital Storytelling and is earning her Master’s degree from Harvard University. Savannah believes every day is a good day and there’s nothing good food can’t fix.

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Maximize Your Small Space with These Cool Double-Duty Decor Finds

Maximize Your Small Space with These Cool Double-Duty Decor Finds

We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission.

In small living spaces, maximizing your decor is key. Filling your home with pieces that serve multiple functions isn’t just smart — it’s essential. During our Small/Cool experience, 10 designers showed that it’s possible for function and style to not just coexist, but thrive, in the same space. For some designer-approved inspiration, we’ve pulled some of the best pieces that can not only pull double duty in your bedroom, office, living room, and more, but also breathe life into your space with polish and flair.

Scroll on for our absolute favorite versatile furniture and decor pieces, straight out of the 2021 Small/Cool playbook.

Olivia Bowman

Commerce Editorial Intern

Olivia is an editorial intern on the commerce team at Apartment Therapy. When she’s not writing, she’s probably re-watching The West Wing, reading her horoscope, or researching skincare products. She is a proud University of Oregon alumna and firmly believes that seltzer water is part of a balanced diet.

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