Inspiration From The Parisian House of Mirrors

When a space is unfailingly beautiful, the amount of natural light spilling into the interiors is usually well in abundance. From lofty studios teetering above city scenes and chocolate box houses in the country, creating that ‘airy’ show home effect can usually be achieved with little more than a few minimalist touches (and one of those off-white colour palettes we can never quite master).

But dream living isn’t all restricted to the sprawling country homes and penthouse apartments depicted in the magazines, and for those a little closer to the city streets, those looming shadows can quickly plunge even the grandest old houses into shadow.

This is perhaps one of the most characteristic features of the central townhouses of Paris, a constant battle to bring the Parisian charm in but keep the city bustle out. It may be the city of light, but in those boutique hotels nestled down a tiny rue, projecting light around the whole plan can be a real challenge, especially when trying to work around precious original features.

Battling and triumphing over its shady location just off the Champs Elysees, The Hotel Bradford Elysees is one such example of a Parisian architectural gem that perfectly maintains its period charm whilst battling against closely packed and multi-storied townhouses. With so many beautiful features, any interior additions to the space need to be in keeping with the Haussmann style of this once private residence.

It is the use of mirrors in abundance, style and size that has allowed the Bradford Elysees to fully utilise its shadowy position and project that much needed daylight throughout the whole of the interior, without infringing on any period elegance.

Using well positioned illuminated mirrors, floor to ceiling length whole wall mirrors and incorporating mirrored surfaces into decorative wall sculptures, The Bradford Elysees has transformed itself into a subtle house of mirrors. Using techniques we can all incorporate into our homes and business spaces in order to open up the interior, we take inspiration from the little hotel that’s mastered natural light through design.

With typical Haussmann style features such as the original parquet wooden floor, cornicing and richly painted panelled walls, the main ‘parlour’ exudes period charm and acts as the main inlet of natural light. The light streaming from the main windows (originally the drawing room) therefore needs to be thrown into the shadowy entrance hall and reception to brighten up the darker spaces.

Using a multi-panelled floor to ceiling mirror has the benefit of opening the room out by giving the illusion of space, while the different panels help to throw light around the plan at slightly different angles. It’s also worth mentioning here that those luxe Regency style chairs and sofa are upholstered in delicate ‘worn’ pastel shades. This is a good way of keeping your furniture in top condition if they will be furnishing a room that naturally receives a lot of sunlight during midday as the colours won’t appear to fade.

Using a convex mirror as the central feature in an eye catching wall design draws the eye and gives a wider viewpoint across a tiny area (see the whole room distorted in the small mirror). While from a practical perspective the convex ‘feature’ mirror is lacking, these type of mirrors surrounded by an ornate circular design are popular all over Paris. I’ve yet to place this style rigidly within any of the classical period designs popular in the city, so get in touch if you can enlighten us!

In architectural design windows placed relatively high helps throw light deeper into a plan and in this instance the tall glass entrance is used to project light down the hallway where it is then met by this low hanging mirror and used to brighten the reception area. This is a fantastic example of how clever effects can be achieved through a relatively simple and cost effective addition such as well placed mirror.

Take inspiration from the city of light and style and open up your space using the techniques seen in beautiful Parisian boutique hotels. Choosing ‘textured’ mirrors which reflect light all around your plan is a great place to start and staggering mirrors and creating a feature from numerous mirrors is also a beautiful way to give the illusion of a wider and brighter compact hall space. Combining a mirrored surface in an authentic feature is tres Parisian but can also be tailored to reflect the inspiration behind your space.

For example opulent Indian style designs really work well with a bold colour scheme and bronze celtic suns are the best way to replicate the ornate circular mirrors seen in Parisian houses (see above). Design inspiration doesn’t have to come from complicated period features and architectural oddities, and throughout the blog we’ll be highlighting stunning effects from around the world that you can replicate in your own space.

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Jamie Bell is the managing director of Illuminated Mirrors. You can find Jamie on Google+; he also occasionally updates the Illuminated Mirrors Facebook page.

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